If you regularly wake up with a headache or a feeling of soreness in your jaw, you might grind or clench your teeth at night. People who grind their teeth have a condition called bruxism. Over time, clenching or grinding your teeth can cause wear and tear on your teeth as well as ongoing discomfort. Some people develop problems with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) on the sides of their jaw due to the tension in their teeth and jaw.
A night guard, worn over the top and bottom rows of teeth while you sleep, is one way to treat bruxism. Night guards help to ease tension in the mouth and reduce friction between the rows of teeth. If your dentist recommends wearing one, they will also most likely recommend keeping it clean and disinfecting it from time to time. Here's how to disinfect a night guard so it can protect your teeth effectively.
Why Clean Your Night Guard?
Cleaning your night guard helps it do its job. Even if you only put your night guard in your mouth after you've brushed your teeth and flossed, plaque, bacteria and other debris can still build up on it overnight, as you sleep. Cleaning it will keep it from becoming discolored and will remove any plaque or bacteria from the night guard's surface or the area that contacts your teeth.
When you clean your night guard, you also help to freshen it up, as cleaning removes odor-causing bacteria. A fresh-smelling night guard is less likely to give you bad breath.
How to Clean Your Night Guard
You have a few options when it comes to cleaning your night guard. You can soak the night guard when you aren't wearing it, such as right before bedtime or in the morning when you first wake up. Another option is to use a night guard cleaner and clean it as you wear it. Take a look at some of the best ways to clean a night guard.
Cleaning your night guard when you aren't wearing it is one way to protect your mouth and teeth from bacteria and other germs. But what happens if you forget to clean it during the day and don't have time before bed? WhiteFoam from EverSmile lets you clean your night guard as you wear it. The night guard cleaner removes bacteria and germs from the night guard itself while it freshens your breath and whitens your teeth.
To use WhiteFoam, apply a layer of it to the inside of your night guard —the side that presses against your teeth — before you go to bed. Position the night guard in your mouth as usual and spit out any excess foam. Wear your night guard as directed. After a few weeks, you'll start to notice a whiter smile, as well as a night guard that stays clean and fresh.
*Consult your dentist first. Distilled white vinegar contains about 5% acetic acid, which is strong enough to break down dirt and grime. It also has some disinfecting power and can kill off bacteria. To clean your night guard with vinegar, mix together one part vinegar and one part water and put the night guard into the mixture. Let it soak for about 30 minutes, then remove and rinse off. You can use a soft-bristled toothbrush to remove any remaining, visible pieces of dirt or debris.
3. Denture Cleaning Tablets
*Consult your dentist first. The tablets, which dissolve in water and kill bacteria, can also help to keep your night guard clean. To clean your night guard with the tablets, dissolve one in a glass or bowl of water. Add your night guard and let it soak for about 10 minutes or for the time recommended for dentures on the package. Remove the night guard from the water, brush with a soft toothbrush or wipe with a soft cloth, then dry thoroughly.
4. Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is another disinfectant that can kill bacteria on your night guard and remove dirt and debris. For best results, use hydrogen peroxide with a strength of at least 3%. You can soak the night guard in undiluted hydrogen peroxide when cleaning it. After soaking for about 20 or 30 minutes, remove the night guard and rinse it with warm water.
What Not to Use to Clean Your Night Guard
Some methods are better than others for cleaning your night guard. A few materials that seem like they would be ideal for cleaning your night guard can actually do more harm than good. Even if you're in a pinch, it's best to avoid using the following.
Toothpaste is great for cleaning your teeth, gums and tongue. It usually contains abrasive ingredients that scrub away plaque, food bits and other debris. It's this abrasive quality that makes it not a good option if you need to clean your night guard. The abrasive nature of toothpaste can scratch the surface of your night guard, creating small abrasions where bacteria and fungus can get stuck.
The dishwasher might seem like a quick and effective way to clean your night guard. The detergent can remove any plaque or stuck-on bits of food while the heat of the water can kill off germs. However, the temperature of the water in your dishwasher is high enough to damage the plastic or other material of a night guard. Your night guard might come out of the dishwasher clean and nearly germ-free, but it also might be misshapen.
3. Boiling Water
Skip using boiling water to clean your night guard for the same reason you'd skip the dishwasher. At 212 degrees Fahrenheit, boiling water is way too hot for your night guard to handle. The heat of the water will kill bacteria and other germs but is also likely to damage the appliance itself.
More Care Tips for Your Night Guard
Along with cleaning your night guard regularly, what else can you do to keep it in great shape? Here are a few tips:
- - Rinse after wearing: Even if you aren't going to clean your night guard that day, it's still a good idea to give it a rinse after each wear. Rinsing your night guard daily will wash away dirt and germs and make it easier to clean.
- - Dry it thoroughly: Always make sure your night guard is completely dry before you tuck it away in the morning. Bacteria and mold thrive in moist conditions. A damp or wet night guard can be the ideal breeding ground for them.
- - Store it in a case: Give your night guard the most protection by keeping it in a case when you're not wearing it. The case will protect the night guard from dust and debris.
Let EverSmile Help You Keep Your Night Guard Clean
Keeping your night guard clean lets it do its job while protecting your mouth from tooth decay, gum disease and bad breath. EverSmile WhiteFoam cleans your night guard while you sleep, making it the perfect, hands-off way to protect your mouth while whitening your teeth. Get to know our other products and order your night guard cleaner today.