You were recently told by your partner that they are constantly sleep deprived due to the sound that comes when you clench your teeth at night.
They have told you that at times you are even grinding your teeth which make a very cringey sound.
Therefore you decided to visit your dentist and find out what is happening.
Your dentist has told you that you have a habit called ‘bruxism’ which can be caused by several things. In your case, it’s the constant stress.
After asking you to visit a physician to tackle stress and anxiety, they have also asked you to wear a night guard so that your teeth are not subjected to any sort of trauma due to the habitual clenching of teeth.
After giving you a night guard, they have also instructed you to keep it clean to avoid any bacterial contact. The next thing you asked them was:
what is the best way to clean dental night guard?
They told you that you can simply clean it with a soft toothbrush or even wash it with mouthwash and water.
If you want to be 100% satisfied, buy a mouth guard cleaner available on the market and get squeaky clean results every day!
But if you want to know all there is to know about cleaning your dental night guard, keep reading!
Step By Step Instruction To Clean Dental Night Guard
A night guard is a clear tray-like instrument that is supposed to be worn over the teeth at night to keep them from clenching and eventually destroying the functional anatomy of your teeth.
They closely resemble an invisalign or a removable retainer.
If you wear one, it’s extremely important to keep them clean. Let’s see how you can clean them in a step by step fashion:
1. Immediately Rinse It In The Morning
Being a dental night guard wearer, the most important thing to do after you take it off in the morning is rinsing it with warm water.
This is as important as brushing your teeth because it will successfully wash away all the bacteria and help the device get rid of the plaque that built up on your night guard overnight.
2. Clean It With A Toothbrush
As soon as you are done rinsing the mouth guard, lightly brush it with your toothbrush.
If you want you can even use a separate toothbrush exclusively for the night guard.
3. Let It Dry Out Completely
The next and very important step is to let your night guard air dry. It’s important to do so because moisture is the perfect environment for bacteria to grow and you don’t want your night guard to be full of bacteria even after proper cleaning.
So don’t use any towel or tissue to dry it out, instead give it time to air dry completely.
Choose a clean flat surface and leave it there for 15-20 minutes.
4. Safely Put The Night Guard In Its Case
Before you head out for the day, make sure you have put the night guard in its case. Doing so will save it from the humidity and heat inside the bathroom and keep it from any sort of malformation.
5. Deep Clean Your Night Guard Once A Week
If you want your night guard to last longer, giving it a nice deep clean is essential. Here are some ways to do that:
- Dissolve it in an over the counter denture cleaner for about 20 minutes and let it air dry.
- Mix 30-40 ml of mouthwash in a cup of water and let your night guard sit in it for about 30 minutes. Take it out and let it air dry.
- This one is a bit of a long process, but ensures complete removal of the plaque and bacteria.
First you’ll take a glass and fill it up with some white vinegar. Soak your night guard in it while making sure it’s no longer than 30 minutes.
Once you have taken it out of the vinegar, put some hydrogen peroxide in a new glass or in the same one after rinsing it thoroughly and soak the night guard again for 30 minutes (No Longer).
Can You Clean A Mouth Guard With Vinegar?
As mentioned above, soaking a night guard in vinegar can be very beneficial in order to remove all the plaque and bacteria.
However, doing it solely in vinegar is not recommended. You have to soak it in hydrogen peroxide afterwards to achieve the best results.
Therefore, if you don’t have hydrogen peroxide at home like most of us, it’s better to just soak it in a denture cleaner or a mouthwash/water mixture.
Just make sure you are not leaving it in the mixture for more than an hour maximum as it can damage the material.
Why Is There Black Mold On My Night Guard?
Often times patients come to their dentist’s office complaining of the presence of a black mold on their night guard. They claim that they have been regularly cleaning the device and don’t know what may have caused it.
Are you in a similar situation and want to know why?
Well the reason most often is that you are cleaning your night guard, but not rightly.
The most common mistake is that the night guard is not left to dry out and is immediately put in the container. The moisture is retained in this way, and provides a perfect environment for bacteria to grow. Hence the black mold.
Another reason could be that you are towel drying the night guard and not letting it air dry. The towel could have a lot of bacteria that have now transferred to your night guard, turning into a black mold.
Make sure that you are not being neglectful in any step of the cleaning process. And always remember to deep clean the mouth guard once a week.
How Often Should I Clean My Night Guard?
By following the steps mentioned above, you should clean your night guard every single day!
Miss a day and the bacteria will be ready to attack you.
So make it a part of your routine and your mouth guard will last so much longer.
Once a week you want to give it a deep clean. It’s essential to soak your denture in any of your favourite solutions mentioned above to obtain a thorough clean.
How Do You Store A Night Guard?
Your dentist should have given you a case with the night guard. This is where you are supposed to keep it.
However, for the night guard to stay clean and clear in the case, the case needs to be in pristine condition as well. Make sure that you are cleaning the case in the same way at least once a week.
Now once the night guard is in its case, you should ideally store it in room temperature.
If you are keeping it in your bathroom, make sure that it’s not too hot or humid in there. It’s also equally important to not keep it in the cold.
In case you have lost your case, keep the dental night guard in a zip lock for the time being.
Once it has air dried completely, make sure to get a new case as soon as possible as this is just an emergency trick.
How Long Does A Night Guard Last?
The severity of teeth grinding is the sole determinate of how long your dental guard will last.
If the bruxism is severe, it’s possible that the damage will start appearing within the next six months. Since the dental guard was made only to transfer the wear to the device and not your teeth, don’t worry about the malformations too much.
You might have to visit your dentist for some adjustments and then you are good to go!
On the other side, your dental guard can become a victim of bacterial attack, making its life span of years to just a few months.
Therefore, never store it wet and always keep it clean to help it last longer!
To Sum It Up
Recognizing in you a habit like bruxism and then having to wear something overnight to keep your teeth from wearing off can be an overwhelming process.
But it’s also necessary and should not be avoided.
Something that is even more necessary is to keep your night guard squeaky clean every day!
This will help it last longer.
Along with that, giving your night guard a deep clean by soaking it in either denture cleaner, a mixture of mouth wash and water or in a vinegar/hydrogen peroxide mixture is extremely important.
Choose either and make sure you have soaked it for at least 30 minutes. Air-dry it completely before storing it.
The emphasis on air drying is given so that there is no moisture left for the bacteria to grow leading to the formation of a black mold.
If you are worried about the damage that the severity of your bruxism is causing to the device, please don’t as that’s what it’s designed to do!
Instead, get to the root cause of this habit and treat that.
De-stress yourself and enjoy!