Night guards are optional oral appliances, but the benefits you feel after using yours could make it a must-have part of your bedtime routine. These handy mouthguards keep your upper and lower teeth from touching and give your overworked jaw muscles a much-needed rest.
But while your body gets a break, your night guard is taking the brunt of the grinding and clenching. That’s why cheap guards don’t last long: Moderate and heavy grinders bite right through them.
Using professional guidance to help you relax and sleep with a night guard in your mouth, like those suggested by JS Dental Lab, can help. But if you don’t care for your guard, it can still get damaged.
So, you’ve invested in a decent custom appliance and want to ensure it lasts. Follow these tips to keep your night mouth guard in great shape and get your oral health there, too!
1. Take It With You When You Brush
Do you know how you’re supposed to brush your teeth first thing in the morning? Make caring for your night guard part of that routine.
Don’t take your guard out of your mouth until you trudge to the bathroom. Then, when it’s time to brush, pull the appliance out and rinse it off with warm water. (Never use hot water, as it can warp the material.)
Grab a toothbrush and use it to scrub any plaque and debris buildup that may have accumulated overnight.
Check the appliance’s instructions before adding toothpaste to the brush since some of the ingredients can damage the material. But even without toothpaste, the warm water and bristles should be enough to remove most of the buildup.
2. Keep the Case and Guard Dry
Although your night guard stays in your mouth all night, you don’t want it to stay wet any other time. Moisture attracts germs like bacteria, mold, and mildew — all microorganisms you do not want on something you’ll be putting in your mouth.
Keeping your case and night guard dry at all times (when they’re not in use or being cleaned) can prevent much of this problem. Let your night guard air dry after you wash and scrub it, and then store it in a case in a clean, dry spot. Your nightstand drawer is an ideal choice, especially if you have pets or little ones that could use your appliance as a toy.
Avoid storing your case and night guard in rooms where moisture is common, like the bathroom and kitchen. The humidity and wetness, combined with regular periods of darkness, are the perfect breeding areas for yeast, mold, and bacteria.
If you’re getting sick frequently, a dirty, germy night guard might be the culprit. It’s not uncommon for unclean appliances to trigger colds, flu, sore throats, and strep and staph infections. And regular exposure to bacteria leads to tooth decay and infected gums.
By keeping your guard and case clean and dry, you can have the benefits of your oral appliance without the germy side effects.
3. Deep Clean At Least Weekly
Add “thorough deep clean of your night guard” to your weekly to-do list. Daily rinse and scrubs reduce the buildup, but those pesky bacteria and other organisms are stubborn. Weekly deep cleanings get rid of any germs that are hanging around or tucked in hard-to-reach hiding spots.
There are a few ways to clean your night guard, depending on how much effort and expense you want to invest in the job:
- Buy a denture cleaner at your local store. Put your night guard in a glass, then follow the cleaner’s instructions. Let the guard sit as the powder dissolves for about 15-30 minutes, then remove and rinse.
- Pour a capful of mouthwash into a glass, then add a little water, so there’s enough liquid to cover your night guard. Add the appliance and let it soak for about half an hour. Remove and rinse.
- Use an ultrasonic cleaner. This is more expensive, but it gets rid of all the germs, regardless of where they’re hiding or how stubborn they are. All you need is water and the device. Your night guard will be thoroughly cleaned within a few minutes.
Damage can start to show as the night mouthguard gets older, too. If you start to notice white spots or signs of discoloration on your guard, they could be signs of calcium buildup.
This happens when you’re not cleaning your appliance thoroughly enough, and it causes the material to wear away faster. It may be getting close to time to invest in a new one, which can be anywhere from one to five years after purchase.
As with everything you own, the better you care for your night guard, the longer it will last. Once you start to feel the benefits of regularly wearing your oral appliance, you’ll gladly use these tips to keep it in tip-top shape!