As an athlete in a contact sport, an athletic mouthguard is the best way to protect your teeth and jaw from injuries. In addition, a custom-fit mouthguard can also reduce the risk of concussions. Unfortunately, in order to achieve optimal protection from your mouthguard, it is essential that you take care of it properly. Everything from proper cleaning methods to how you store your mouthguard play a role in prolonging the life and maintaining the level of protection your guard should provide.
Begin with Your Teeth
Taking care of your mouthguard actually begins with your teeth and mouth. Good oral hygiene, like regular brushing and flossing, helps remove food particles and reduces the number of bacteria in your mouth. Bacteria can transfer to your mouthguard and, if left untreated, can grow and lead to possible health risks. It is important that you brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once a day.
Cleaning Your Mouthguard Starts with Regular Rinsing
Rinsing your mouthguard before and after wear is essential. Rinsing in warm water before wear removes any possible bacteria that may have built up during storage. A good rinse will remove the bacteria and debris so you don’t introduce it into your mouth. After wear, another rinse helps remove saliva and bacteria until you can clean the mouthguard properly.
Scrub and Brush Your Mouthguard
While a good rinse does remove a good number of bacteria and debris after wear, regular cleaning of your mouthguard is essential to prolong its life and reduce your risk of getting sick. Using a soft-bristle toothbrush and a non-abrasive toothpaste will remove remaining debris and bacteria that can lead to plaque build-up or illness. You can also choose to clean your mouthguard with soap and water.
A poorly cared for mouthguard can actually make you sick. Read our blog post on the importance of taking care of your mouthguard.
Do a Deep Clean At Least Once a Week
A deep clean, or soak, is essential at least once a week to break down any potential buildup on your mouthguard. At SportingSmiles, we recommend using Fresh Guard by Efferdent at least once a week. Follow the instructions on the packet, but never leave your mouthguard soaking for more than an hour as this can damage the material.
Allow Your Mouthguard to Dry Completely After Cleaning
Whether it is after cleaning or after a soak, always allow your mouthguard to dry completely before storage. This should take 15 to 30 minutes but is an essential step in preventing bacterial growth during storage.
Store in a Vented Container
Once your mouthguard is clean and dry, store it in a vented case. Allowing fresh air to circulate through the case through vents reduces the risk of mold and bacterial growth.
Keep Your Mouthguard Case Clean
While cleaning your mouthguard, it is also essential to clean the case. Putting a clean guard into a dirty, bacteria-filled case defeats the purpose. A dirty case can transfer bacteria back onto your clean guard.
Having a backup mouthguard is a great way to ensure you always have a clean mouthguard available. Visit SportingSmiles today to purchase a high-quality, low-cost backup or replacement mouthguard.
Know When to Replace Your Guard
Keeping your guard clean is essential, but so is knowing when it is time to replace a broken or damaged guard. A guard with cracks or tears can quickly develop bacterial growth, increasing your risk of getting sick. In addition, a broken mouthguard does not offer the same level of protection during practice or a game, increasing your risk of injury. SportingSmiles offers custom-fit mouthguards to replace your broken or damaged guard. For information, visit Athletic Mouth Guards today.
What Not to Do
While we have talked about everything you should do in order to take optimal care of your mouthguard, there are a few things you shouldn’t do. These actions can damage your mouthguard and leave you without protection.
- Do Not Chew on Your Mouthguard – While you may see your favorite professional athletes chewing on their mouthguard, do your best not to chew on your guard. Chewing on your guard damages the material, causing cracks and tears where bacteria can develop and hide.
- Do Not Use Mouthwash with Alcohol – If you choose to soak or rinse your mouthguard in a mouthwash, be sure that is alcohol-free. Alcohol-based mouthwashes can dry out and damage your mouthguard material.
- Never Use Hot Water – When rinsing or cleaning your mouthguard, always use warm water, NEVER hot! Hot water can soften your mouthguard’s material and cause it to change shape. As the shape changes, it will no longer fit like it should, reducing the amount of protection you have.
- Do Not Leave in Direct Sunlight – Do not leave your mouthguard in direct sunlight, such as on the dash of your car. Direct sunlight can degrade the mouthguard material.
- Do Not Play with a Broken or Damaged Guard – Never play with a broken or damaged guard. A broken guard can be a choking hazard and does not offer the proper level of protection you are counting on.
Taking good care of your mouthguard will ensure you have the protection you need when it counts and that your mouthguard will last you through the season. It is, however, recommended that you replace your mouthguard each season for optimal performance. SportingSmiles can help you replace your current mouthguard for a fraction of the price you would pay your dentist. This also makes it easier to purchase a back-up mouthguard to have on hand when needed. For more information, visit Athletic Mouth Guards today.