Around 500 to 1,000 diversities of bacteria live in the human mouth, all with various purposes in the overall microbiological ecosystem of the human body. From all these species we can find billions of oral bacteria: some 'bad' ones that fed on starches and sugars from the foods that you eat and cause tooth decay and other oral diseases, and other helpful 'probiotics' that function instead to support your oral health and your overall wellness. Combine those numbers with the millions of bacteria that dwell on your hands and you find a full transportation system for bacteria every time you remove or replace your mouthguard. So how can we prevent sickness from the many little bacteria that thrive in the dark moist environment that your mouthguard is stored in? Here are a few of the best ways to clean and safely store your mouthguard.
Cleaning Your Mouthguard
When it comes to cleaning your mouthguard, you want to find the method that works best for you and most effectively prolongs the life of your mouthguard. One way you can do this is to simply brush over your mouthguard with a clean, soft-bristled toothbrush, then rinse it out. A second way we like to recommend is to rinse or soak the mouthguard in hydrogen peroxide, a well-known solution for killing bacteria. Another practical method is to simply hand wash it with soap and warm water. Alternatively, you may simply want to wash with a mouthguard cleaner which can be found at your local pharmacy. They are non-alcohol based and are made specifically for the purpose of sanitizing your mouthguard.
Storing Your Mouthguard
There are some habits you should form when storing your mouthguard and others that you should avoid. Have a ventilated mouthguard case to store it in. There will be a huge difference on the bacterial level than if you toss it in with the sweaty socks and sneakers in your gym bag. If you find yourself frequently playing with or removing your mouthguard to drink or speak, think for a moment of all the billions of bacteria being transported from your hand to your body each time you do this. Try to leave it in your mouth as often as possible when you are using it. A few habits you will want to break or avoid concerning your guard are leaving it soaking overnight; using anything alcohol based, including isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol to clean it; using anything abrasive on it, such as bleach, hand sanitizer, or denture tablets; putting it in the dishwasher; or storing it outside of its case where it will become contaminated.
You will see when it comes to keeping a sanitary mouthguard the rules are pretty simple. One, find a cleaning method that you can work into your routine and easily maintain. Two, touch your guard as little as possible. Three, have a safe, ventilated storage place dedicated only to your mouthguard. And finally, your dental team is always here for you. Give us a call to answer any questions you may have.