You wear your night guard every night in order to protect your teeth from wear and tear associated with bruxism, or teeth grinding. This protection helps reduce the risk of your nighttime grinding damaging your enamel and leading to cavities and tooth decay. But can your night guard actually contribute to tooth decay? The answer isn’t quite as simple as yes or no, but more of a maybe. The truth is, if you don’t care for your night guard properly, it can contribute to the development of cavities. Let’s take a look at how cavities develop and what role your night guard may play.
What Causes Cavities?
Cavities in your teeth occur when bacteria damage the hard surface of a tooth, known as the enamel. Once bacteria enter the tooth, it continues to eat away and spread into the deeper tooth layer, the dentin. But how does all this start? To understand this, you must know that your mouth is always full of bacteria. The bacteria in your mouth helps aid in digestion, but when it gets out of control, it begins to eat away at the teeth.
The start of cavity formation begins with the build-up of plaque. This sticky film forms when bacteria feed on sugars and carbohydrates left on the surface of your teeth after eating and drinking. When the bacteria feed, they produce acid. This combination of bacteria, acid, food particles, and your saliva creates plaque. Once this sticky film covers your teeth, the acid in the plaque begins to eat away at the tooth enamel, making tiny openings where bacteria enter and form cavities. If left untreated, the acid and bacteria move deeper into the tooth, reaching the dentin. This is when you may notice a cavity causes pain.
Common Causes of Cavities
- Poor Oral Hygiene – If you are not regularly brushing and flossing your teeth to remove the bacteria, acid, and food particles, they are able to build-up on your teeth, increasing the risk of cavities.
- Dry Mouth – Your saliva is a powerful tool in cavity prevention as it helps wash away plaque from the surface of your teeth. Unfortunately, medical conditions, such as Sjogren’s, or certain medications, can reduce saliva production, leaving your mouth dry. This allows plaque to form more quickly on the teeth.
- What You Eat and Drink – Unfortunately, eating and drinking plays a role in cavity formation, but you can’t just stop eating and drinking. However, what you eat and what you do after eating can play a role. Sticky foods high in sugar, such as dried fruit or caramel, cling to the teeth, providing a food source for bacteria. You should always brush your teeth after eating any high-sugar foods in order to reduce the risk of cavities.
- Medical Conditions – Certain medical conditions that cause stomach acid to flow back into the mouth can increase the risk of cavities. In addition, certain head and neck cancer treatments using radiation can alter the makeup of your saliva, making teeth more prone to damage and cavities.
Now that you have a better understanding of cavities and how they form, what about your night guard. Can your night guard really cause cavities? The truth is, your night guard itself does not contain anything that will directly cause cavities. However, how you care for and wear your night guard can contribute to the development of cavities.
Cracked or damaged nightguards can increase the risk of cavity development. Visit SportingSmiles today to find out how you can get a high-quality, low-cost replacement guard.
You now know that your mouth is full of bacteria that feed off food particles and plaque on your teeth. When you put your night guard in your mouth, not only does it become covered in bacteria, but it traps the bacteria up against your teeth while in place. If bacteria remain in contact for extended periods of time, your risk for cavity development increases. Luckily, there are things you can do to reduce your risk.
Proper Oral and Night Guard Care Reduces the Risk of Cavities
Since you wear a nightguard, you are already doing something to protect the enamel of your teeth. Your night guard stops the destruction of your enamel from your teeth grinding together while you sleep. So, you don’t want to let that night guard contribute to possible cavities in other ways. The good news is, you can prevent that with proper oral care and caring for your night guard. Reduce the risk of bacterial build-up on your teeth and night guard with these steps.
- Brush and Floss Your Teeth – Reducing the risk of cavities begins with good oral care. You should brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss at the end of the day to remove any trapped food particles. When it comes to wearing a nightguard, you should always brush and floss your teeth prior to putting the night guard in, as this reduces the bacteria that would be trapped on the surface of your teeth.
- Always Rinse Your Mouthguard – Before placing your mouthguard in your mouth, always rinse the guard to remove any possible bacteria or debris.
- Removing the Guard in the Morning – After you wear your guard overnight, remove the guard and thoroughly clean it with soap and cool water or your toothbrush and non-abrasive toothpaste. Let your guard air dry before putting it in the case. After cleaning the guard, thoroughly brush your teeth to remove any bacterial buildup that occurred overnight.
- Soak Your Mouthguard At Least Once a Week – At SportingSmiles, we recommend Fresh Guard by Efferdent. This is formulated for oral appliances like night guards, mouthguards, and retainers. A quick 30-minute soak helps remove bacteria and mouth film from the guard.
- Replace a Broken or Damaged Night Guard Immediately – If you notice signs of cracking or tears in your night guard, replace it immediately. Bacteria can hide in these cracks or tears, making it difficult to remove. Once in your mouth, bacteria thrive and feed on your teeth.
SportingSmiles Can Help With Replacement Night Guards
At SportingSmiles, we understand the importance of a good night guard, as well as the importance of proper oral and mouthguard care. Keeping your night guard in top shape is essential to reducing your risk of developing cavities. Should you need a replacement night guard, we offer the same high-quality guards as your dentist, but at a fraction of the cost. For more information, visit Teeth Grinding Guards today.