mouthguardTeeth grinding, or bruxism,  is a common problem among the population, and it can leads to a number of annoying or painful health conditions, including neck or jaw pain, headaches, earaches, or tooth sensitivity. If you have this condition, your dentist will likely recommend wearing a mouthguard at night to prevent the teeth from connecting with – and grinding – each other. That mouthguard needs to be cleaned in order to prevent the overgrowth of bacteria and plaque in your mouth. What is the best way to keep your mouthguard clean and in good condition?

Rinse – Make sure to rinse your mouthguard thoroughly with water every morning after you remove it.

Brush – After you rinse your mouthguard off, brush it briskly with a toothbrush – either your regular one or one set aside for brushing your mouthguard. Either will do. You do not need to use toothpaste for this. Some toothpastes contain granules of material that work to scrape plaque off your teeth but could also damage your mouthguard. After brushing it, rinse it again, and allow it to dry on a clean, flat surface.

Deep clean – In order to make sure that your mouthguard is kept free of bacterial overgrowth, you should deep clean it once a week. You can do this using a variety of sterilizing methods. One of them is a vinegar and hydrogen peroxide combination. Soak your mouthguard in distilled white vinegar for thirty minutes, then rinse it and soak it in hydrogen peroxide for thirty minutes. Another is a mixture of mouthwash and water. Pour a capful of mouthwash into a glass and dilute this with water, then soak your mouthguard for thirty minutes. A third way is to use a mixture of dental cleaner and water. After soaking in any of these solutions, rinse your mouthguard thoroughly with water and then allow it to dry completely before using it again.

Store in a case – Do not keep your mouthguard on your bathroom counter where it can be easily knocked to the floor or lost. Store it in the case that it came in.

Keep your case clean – Bacteria can grow in the case as well, so rinse and clean it out at least weekly. It’s better if you keep your case in a dry place as well, as bacteria (and mold) flourish in damp, warm environments like bathrooms.

Take your mouthguard with you to your routine dental cleanings – If you bring your mouthguard with you when you visit your dentist, he can make sure that it is still in good condition and fits comfortably in your mouth.  

If you follow the above instructions, you should have no problem keeping your mouthguard in great shape for years. Starting a mouthguard cleaning habit will also will help you remember to brush and floss your teeth every morning too – and that’s great for your teeth and your oral health! If you suspect you might be grinding your teeth at night or have experienced jaw pain or dull headaches when you wake up in the morning, ask your dentist about whether getting a mouthguard might help solve these problems.