Mouthguard Cleaning 101: Know the Score
The thought of your child using someone else’s mouthguard is pretty disgusting, right? But remember that the bacteria, yeast, fungi and other undesirable particles on your child’s own mouthguard need to be cleaned away—properly—before every use. And whether the guard is used for sports or to prevent teeth-grinding, whether it is custom-made or off-the-shelf, it needs to be sanitized regularly, no matter how clean it may look.
Rinsing with cold water before and after each use is only the first step in basic mouthguard care. For the best protection, follow these guidelines:
- Have your children brush their teeth before each time they wear their mouthguards. Caution your children against sharing their mouthguards with teammates.
- If the mouthguard is ready-made, wash it thoroughly after each use with warm (not hot) water and mild soap, and then rinse and dry with a soft, clean cloth.
- If the mouthguard is customized (boil-and-bite or fabricated by us especially for your child), brush all its surfaces, especially crevices, with a toothbrush and toothpaste after each use. Rinse with cool water, and dry with a soft, clean cloth.
- Always store the mouthguard in a hard-sided container with ventilation holes. This box, too, should be cleaned often with soap and warm water.
- As an additional precaution, rinse the mouthguard in antibacterial mouthwash.
- Don’t ever leave the mouthguard in the sun or use hot water to clean it. High temperatures can distort its shape.
Mouthguards also need to be checked regularly for signs of wear and damage that may not be readily apparent to you. Bring them with you every time your children visit our office, so we can inspect them.
If a mouthguard develops any pits or cracks, or if your child says it feels uncomfortable or “loose,” it probably needs to be replaced. Check for areas that feel rough. When such an area grazes your child’s gums, it can cause tiny cuts through which bacteria can enter.
Don’t know if your child would benefit from a mouthguard? If he or she participates in a contact sport, the answer is almost certainly “yes.” We’ll be happy to discuss options with you at your child’s next appointment at KiDDS Dental. And if your child already has a mouthguard, stay vigilant in keeping them clean and smooth. That can go a long way to maintaining not only your child’s oral health but his or her general health as well.
Call us to schedule an appointment today! 509-891-7070.