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7 Recommended Methods for Cleaning Your Mouthguard

If you are currently wearing a night guard for bruxism, also known as teeth grinding, it is important that you take care of it correctly. Most people who use mouth guards don’t take the time to clean them correctly and this is imperative. Not caring for, and not cleaning your mouth guard is certainly not recommended, and could actually lead to significant health problems. On top of this, your mouth guard will likely begin to take on a foul odor and even start to grow mold. This is certainly not something that you will want to put into your mouth. Fortunately, there are things you can do in order to ensure that you are keeping your mouth guard clean, as well as helping it to last as long as possible.

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The recommended methods for cleaning your mouth guard include:

  1. Toothbrush and toothpaste
  2. Mouth Rinse
  3. Soap and Water
  4. Mouth guard cleaning tablets
  5. Dental sanitizing devices
  6. Natural cleaning methods
  7. Professional dental cleaning.

Note:
For each of the methods mentioned above,  remember not to store your night guard until it is completely dry!

 

Method #1 – Toothbrush and Toothpaste

Cleaning your mouth guard with a toothbrush and toothpaste is a common, and highly recommended way for you to get the cleanliness you need, quickly. You can use a toothbrush and toothpaste just as you would when brushing your own teeth. Though this is certainly an effective method for keeping your mouth guard sanitary, it is still recommended that you use other methods in addition to this one. Keep in mind, when using a toothbrush and toothpaste to clean your mouth guard, that you want to be a bit cautious as some toothpastes and toothbrushes could scratch the plastic that the mouth guard is made of.
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Method #2 – Mouth Rinse

Using a mouth rinse or mouth wash to clean a mouth guard is another method that people use. This is popular thanks to many dentists recommending it due to the fact that mouth rinse is good at killing germs in the mouth. Most people will soak their mouth guard in mouth wash from around 10 minutes, all the way up to overnight. You will notice that this soaking will give your mouth guard a great taste and kill germs, but it can also stain the mouth guard, so keep that in mind when choosing the rinse you will use. Dentists recommend that you use this method in conjunction with other cleaning methods, as well.
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Method #3 – Soap and Water

People who have mouth guards will also use soap and water, especially when they first take the mouth guard out. You probably know that you should rinse the guard with warm water when you remove it from your mouth, but you might not use soap. The added addition of soap can help to kill germs and will keep your mouth guard sanitary. Like with other methods, this should be done on a day to day basis and should be used in conjunction with other methods for best results.
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Method #4 – Mouth Guard Cleaning Tablets and Powders

One of the most popular methods for cleaning mouth guards is to use cleaning tablets and powders. You will probably recognize these tablets if you have ever browsed through a drug store. Denture cleaning tablets and powders are examples of this method and are extremely effective for cleaning mouth guards. They help to sanitize, as well as remove stains that can often develop. You will also find that there are tablets and powders made specifically for mouth guards.
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Method #5 – Dental Sanitizing Devices

Dental sanitizing devices are also on the market and a great choice if you are looking for something that will clean and sanitize your mouth guard. They are relatively affordable and you will get a great result if your goal is to have a thoroughly clean mouth guard. Depending on the model, the dental sanitizing device will use sonic or ultraviolet light to effectively clean your mouth guard. These are a bit more expensive than other methods, but it can be a good investment if you will wear a mouth guard for an extended period of time.
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Method #6 – Natural Cleaning Methods

There are a number of natural cleaning methods that can also be used to clean your mouth guards. From vinegar and lemon soaking to using hydrogen peroxide, or even bleach, there are a number of cleaning methods that you can use that are more natural. You should make sure to talk to your dentist before using any of these methods, however, as they might not give you the type of clean you are looking for. Some of these natural methods will be better than others, but they all have their pros and cons.
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Method #7 – Professional Dental Cleaning

Your dentist will also have the tools needed to offer a professional clean when it comes to your mouth guard. When you go in for your next cleaning appointment, you can often ask for this professional clean. Most of the time, they will use the same cleaning methods they use when cleaning their dental tools, so you can be sure that this is effective. Your dentist will know which type of professional cleaning is best based on the material your guard is made of. It is also quite fast, so you can expect to get your mouth guard back by time your cleaning is over.
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Final Word on Mouth Guard Cleaning

Proper maintenance of your mouth guard is imperative, especially when it comes to preventing infections in your mouth, as well as contamination, odor and discoloration. Dental professionals recommend that individuals who use mouth guards, especially at night, clean them on a daily basis. It is recommended that you both brush and floss after taking the mouth guard out and that you at least wash your mouth guard in soap and water at a minimum, even when in a hurry. Additionally, you should never share a mouth guard with someone else, and you should be sure that after cleaning, you are storing it properly, in a well ventilated case.


You might be wondering what happens if you don’t clean your mouth guard correctly? 
Many studies have been done on this and the results can be quite alarming. First of all, a dental mouth guard is a breeding ground for bacteria, viruses, fungus, and more. Because of this, if you do not properly clean your mouth guard, by using one of, or a combination of methods above, you can put yourself at risk for things like gum recession, tooth decay, lesions in the mouth, gingivitis, bacterial infection, and staph infections. If these bacterial infections grow, they can affect the heart, and lungs, and can be quite serious very quickly. You will certainly not want to get into any of these situations, especially because all of the above are preventable.


If you have a mouth guard, make sure that you are taking the proper steps to keep it looking and feeling like new.
With so many different methods of cleaning available, from cleaning tablets to ultraviolet cleaning chambers, you will easily be able to find the right method to meet your needs, as well as your budget. Talk to your dentist to learn more about which method might be right for you.

Christopher

Christopher has been writing professionally for 17 years. He specializes in health and dentistry. He has written extensively on bruxism, mouth guards and alternative approaches.

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23 Comments
  1. Reply
    Shell April 14, 2017 at 1:46 am

    I wear a day and night time one and I was told not to use toothpaste because it could ruin it. I just read another article and it said never to use bleach, or use boiling water. I don’t know about others but I can’t afford to get a new ones.

    I also can’t use mint so I have been using warm water and vinegar for cleaning, and keep them stored in a denture case over night/day. You can also use mouthwash and water as a way of cleaning them.

  2. Reply
    Ann January 14, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    OMG all the different advise…can drive one crazy…I’ll just clean mine in lemon makes the most sense

  3. Reply
    Ree January 5, 2017 at 4:09 pm

    I cannot believe none of the professionals making recommendations to nighttime mouthguard users have thought of the obvious.

    What do you do with items you don’t want bacteria/mold/fungus growing on? That’s right: put them in the refrigerator. Clean your mouthguard thoroughly and put it in the fridge until bedtime. That way, any residual bacteria or other nasties left after cleaning will not have the opportunity to reproduce.

    How simple is that? How obvious? I’ve been doing it for years. You’re welcome.

  4. Reply
    Jfisher January 1, 2017 at 11:59 pm

    I recently had surgery and didn’t wear my mouth guard. I went to use it and it had a fuzzy mold on. Would it be safe to use after bleaching it. I really can’t afford another dental fitted guard.

    • Reply
      Mary March 9, 2017 at 6:51 pm

      Bleach is toxic to the body. I don’t recommend it.

    • Reply
      Christopher January 5, 2017 at 12:49 am

      Yes, bleach and wash it with water and soap and it should be fine

  5. Reply
    Myles September 16, 2016 at 2:25 am

    Is leaving your mouthguard in hot water overnight okay?

  6. Reply
    Robert Clements March 4, 2016 at 2:36 pm

    I paid for my mouth guard now it’s went from soft to hard could you explain what went wrong. Thank you.

  7. Reply
    larry p February 27, 2016 at 3:55 pm

    This article is not well written. It’s too confusingly long, and too vague. As I see it, there are two issues. One is basic cleanliness, i.e. keeping down germ and bacteria levels. The other is plaque build up. Over time, plaque will build up on one’s mouthguard. How to get rid of it?

    Brushing with toothpaste will _not_ keep plaque from building up on your mouthguard. Neither will washing in soap and water. Soaking in hydrogen peroxide is great for killing germs and bacteria, but it will _not_ keep plaque from building up.

    I don’t know about soaking in vinegar. I haven’t tried it. I would guess that would keep down plaque buildup, but who wants a vinegary after taste? So, what _does_ work just fine is the occasional bath in lemon or lime juice. I don’t know what the author’s issue is with squeezing lemons. It sounds like a lot of stupid work for no useful purpose. But, soaking in Lemon- or lime-juice concentrate straight out of the bottle works just fine. I soaked my mouth guard in RealLemon, and after a couple of days, the plaque was all gone.

    All that the article really needed to say was “keep your mouthguard clean and soak in RealLemon from time to time.” Done!

  8. Reply
    Karen S February 11, 2016 at 9:24 am

    I just called my dentist and they said buy a bottle of Miltons baby sterilizing fluid and dilute it – followings the instructions

  9. Reply
    Tammie T January 28, 2016 at 4:06 am

    I always brush my mouth guard with a separate toothbrush than I brush my teeth with. No toothpaste. I don’t get stains. The dentist told me if I do to put it in the dehydrator for a few minutes bc stains are usually saliva that get in the pores and dry. The dehydration process removes the saliva and returns the material to clear.
    My newest guard tastes terrible. It’s my first night wearing it.

  10. Reply
    Cheryl C January 10, 2016 at 6:14 pm

    There seems to be a lot of conflicting directions on what to use and not use but I believe that’s because the materials have changed so much over the years. What is okay for one purchased in 2015 might not be okay for one you received in 2003.

  11. Reply
    Tina C August 10, 2015 at 5:47 pm

    I got my mouth guard years ago, using it nightly, and was told NOT to use toothpaste (too abrasive) but just denture cleaner. It now has stains that are unsightly. My previous dentist tried getting them out with limited success. Any suggestions? Don’t want to get a new one. I will now use toothpaste every morning instead of just warm water/brushing. Hope it helps!

  12. Reply
    Leona Garzelli July 4, 2015 at 5:51 am

    I have been treated for burning mouth issues and I was wandering if my mouth guard, which I clean regularly, has absorbed mouth wash and toothpaste over time and may be causing my mouth and tongue burning issue? It’s several years old and I’m also curious if the material it’s made of could be causing my problem. Please help!

  13. Reply
    Saija April 10, 2015 at 2:24 am

    My dentist recommended storing my mouthguard in salty water during the day, and rinsing my mouth with a warm salty water after use in the morning.

  14. Reply
    drronaldperkinsorthodontics April 9, 2015 at 4:49 am

    If you can avoid all cleaning agents that contain alcohol, we do recommend it! Brushing the guard with toothpaste and water will clean it just as well.

    dr ronald perkins orthodontics reviews

  15. Reply
    Chris April 4, 2015 at 9:27 pm

    I’ve cleaned my mouthguard for a few hours in dettol diluted in tap water. Only after I did this did I realize that perhaps the dettol could be toxic. Can I use the mouthguard? Is there something I can do to de-dettol it?

  16. Reply
    Emma March 19, 2015 at 10:13 am

    I just received my night guard, which I’ve been instructed to wear at night as well as day. My guard has a hard outside shell and a soft inner layer that appears to be pulled away and saliva is getting between the two layers. I see little air bubbles and I can press on them with my fingernail and move the trapped saliva around. I brought it to my dentists attention, but he says its a spongy layer and that saliva moves freely between the layers and that’s why it’s so important to keep it clean. I brush it and use pol ident, but neither method cleans the trapped saliva. The only place I notice this happening is behind my front teeth where the guard appears to have been filed down possibly during manufacturing or when my dentist was adjusting my bite.

  17. Reply
    Daha March 8, 2015 at 12:20 am

    @betty Jane. My dentist said to soak them in vinegar if you notice any plaque formation. Mine haven’t formed any yet so haven’t tried it yet but hope it does for you.

  18. Reply
    Jen C March 3, 2015 at 9:24 pm

    My dentist specifically said not to use denture cleaners as they break down the material. I brush it twice a day with toothpaste & use mouthwash every few days. I wear mine 24/7 except when eating

  19. Reply
    Janice Hansen January 31, 2015 at 7:45 pm

    Try denture cleaning tablets. Those should work on the placque looking collection.

  20. Reply
    Selena January 2, 2015 at 7:19 am

    I have the same problem .

  21. Reply
    Betty Jane Jenkins December 20, 2014 at 10:30 pm

    How often should one replace their night guard. I have had mine now since mid 2011. The previous one before that was in 2001. I brush my night guard every morning after use, but I noticed what looks like plaque on it and know of no way to get it off. What should I do?

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