Are you wearing a mouth guard when you play contact sports? If so, good for you! The American Dental Association recommends wearing custom mouth guards during practice and competition for acrobats, basketball, boxing, field hockey, football, gymnastics, handball, ice hockey, lacrosse, martial arts, racquetball, roller hockey, rugby, shot putting, skateboarding, skiing, skydiving, soccer, squash, surfing, volleyball, water polo, weightlifting, and wrestling. Other experts include baseball and softball infielders on that list.
In addition, mouth guards can offer protection against grinding or clenching your teeth while sleeping.
Mouth guards are an important tool; however, they can become, shall we say “icky” if they are not cleaned and cared for. Simply rinsing it off in the sink is not enough and may allow bacteria and/or fungi to build up on it, especially if the mouth guard has pits and cracks in it.
Here are the steps you should take:
- After you use your mouth guard, rinse it with water. You can also brush it with a toothbrush and toothpaste to remove any debris.
- Soak your mouth guard in a cleaner that can remove bacteria. Cleaners include hydrogen peroxide, vinegar and denture cleaning tablets. You only need to soak the mouth guard for a few minutes in any of these.
- Rinse the mouth guard thoroughly to remove any residue.
- Pat the mouth guard dry with a clean cloth or towel.
- Place the mouth guard back in its hard case that has plenty of ventilation so it will be protected. (Also, clean the case in this same way a couple of times a week.)
Caring for your mouth guard properly will enable it to protect your teeth for as long as possible. You can also use this method to clean orthodontic retainers. If you have questions about getting a custom-made sports or night mouth guard, please contact Enlighten Dental Care at (336) 765-0904 and schedule an appointment.