Night guards can be a valuable tool for protecting your teeth from the harsh effects of grinding, clenching and even gum recession. With just a few simple steps that are easy to incorporate into your routine, you’ll be admiring your squeaky-clean retainer or night guard, and your mouth will be thanking you.
Daily Cleaning Routine
Once the stains have formed, they can be difficult or impossible to get rid of, so preventing them from happening in the first place is your best bet.
Did You Know: The yellow stains that begin showing on your night guard are due to the bacteria that naturally occur in your saliva.
Rinse It After Wearing It
Each time you wear your night guard, you should rinse it with cool or lukewarm water as soon as you remove it from your mouth. This step will remove debris and loosen any plaque stuck to the night guard. Avoid using hot water because it can warp the material.
Brush the Night Guard with your Toothbrush
After rinsing, give your night guard a light brushing with your regular toothbrush and water. Some people prefer using a separate toothbrush just for their night guard, but it’s okay if you want to use your regular toothbrush.
Note: You don’t need to apply toothpaste to the brush. Since toothpaste can be abrasive, it may scratch your night guard and cause it to wear out more quickly. Dish soap or Castile soap is an excellent non-abrasive daily cleanser for your guard if you want to cleanse with a separate toothbrush
Lay your Night Guard on a Clean Surface and Allow it to Dry Completely
One of the most important steps to help prevent bacteria build-up is to let your mouth guard or retainer dry completely before storing it. Choose a clean, flat surface to allow your night guard to dry. Typically, it should dry within 15-30 minutes.
Always Store Your Night Guard in a Case
When you are not wearing your night guard, it is important that you keep it stored in a case. Many people store their night guard in their bathroom, but over time the steam and humidity in the bathroom can cause the nightguard to warp. We recommend keeping the night guard stored in your bedroom or on your nightstand instead. Be careful not to store your night guard anywhere subject to extreme hot or cold temperatures.
Be aware that pets love new chew toys. So please keep your night guards safely out of reach of your pets to prevent it form becoming a punch line!
Weekly Cleaning Routine
It’s a good idea to do a deep clean once a week to ensure your night guard or retainer is at its best.
Drop a cleaning tablet meant for use with dental night guards into a glass with water along with your night guard or retainer and let it soak for 15 minutes. You can get these over the counter at most drugstores. Those fizzy bubbles will work their cleaning magic and leave a fresh minty scent. After soaking, rinse in cool water and allow to dry completely before storing.
Deep Clean your Night Guard Monthly
Make a habit of deep cleaning your night guard at least once a month. Deep cleaning can be done using vinegar and hydrogen peroxide. First, soak the night guard in distilled white vinegar (1 part white vinegar to 3 parts water) for at least 30 minutes. After soaking, rinse the night guard and the bowl with water. Then soak the night guard in hydrogen peroxide for at least 30 more minutes. Once finished, rinse with water and allow the night guard to dry completely.
Pro Tip: Don’t leave your night guard soaking in anything for longer than one hour. Extended time in liquid can damage the material your night guard is made out of. Also, don’t soak in any liquid containing alcohol – that includes Listerine.
Keep Your Case Clean
Cleaning your night guard can become a wasted effort if you put a clean night guard into a dirty case.
Keep the case clean by hand washing it every few days with regular dishwashing soap or castile soap.
Avoid placing the case in the dishwasher as the high temperature may melt or warp the plastic. Make sure the container is completely dry because, as we now know, moisture is bacteria’s best friend. If you lose your case, you can always ask us for a new one at your exam or cleaning appointment.
How Long Should My Night Guard Last?
Night Guards will have varying durability depending on several factors. A night guard will have an average lifespan of 5 years, but with those who are severe bruxers, it can need replacement in just 1 year
Help! My Night Guard or Retainer Is Stained?
As we mentioned before, proper cleaning is always your best bet to prevent stains in the first place. But if you haven’t been keeping up with your cleaning routine, what can you do about it?
Depending on the type of stains or discolouration you’re dealing with, your chances of getting rid of them may be higher or lower.
The yellow discoloration is, unfortunately, very difficult to get rid of once it’s there. Some night guard materials are more prone to yellowing than others. Softer night guards are particularly susceptible due to the more porous nature of the material. If that’s the case, we recommend cleaning tablets more frequently to prevent the discoloration from worsening.
If you’re noticing white deposits from calcium build-up, try soaking your retainer in a mixture of 1 part white vinegar to 3 parts water for 15 minutes. Afterward, use a soft toothbrush to scrub any remaining calcium and rinse thoroughly in cool or warm water.
Like your teeth, your mouth guard or retainer needs care and cleaning to keep it at its best. Incorporating these steps into your routine will go a long way toward keeping it fresh and clean and giving it the most life possible.