How to Clean a Bite Guard
If you grind your teeth or clench your jaw in your sleep, you probably use a bite guard. Following a regular cleaning regimen will keep your bite guard in good repair and prevent harmful bacteria from growing on it. For daily cleanings, you can brush the bite guard with baking soda and/or clean it with soap and water. Once a week, you should deep clean a completely plastic bite guard with vinegar and hydrogen peroxide. If it contains metal, deep clean with a denture or retainer cleaner.
Using Soap and Water
Rinse the bite guard.Do this immediately after taking the guard out of your mouth. Turn on the tap and let the water run until it feels lukewarm. Run the bite guard under the water to loosen debris and plaque.
Apply a small squirt of liquid soap.This can be hand soap or dish soap. Work the soap across the surface and in the hollow areas. If you don't have liquid soap, work bar soap into a lather. Smear the suds across the surface.
Brush the bite guard.Make sure the toothbrush has soft or ultra-soft bristles. Apply light pressure to avoid damaging the bite guard. Move in horizontal and vertical strokes. Clean both the outside surface and the hollow surface that touches your teeth. Rinse the bite guard with lukewarm water when you're finished.
Dry the bite guard.Lay a clean towel on a flat surface. Place the bite guard hollow side-down on the towel. Let it air dry completely. This usually takes 15 to 30 minutes.
Put it back in its case.Do this once the bite guard is completely dry. Even the slightest dampness can cause fungus or bacteria to grow. After you replace the bite guard, make sure the case snaps closed. Leaving it out can expose it to ambient humidity, which can degrade the material.
Cleaning with Baking Soda Paste
Rinse the bite guard.This step helps to loosen plaque and other oral debris. Do this immediately after taking the guard out of your mouth. Turn on the tap and let the water run until it feels lukewarm. Run the bite guard under the water.
- You can skip this step if you're using this method after a soap-and-water cleansing.
Make a baking soda paste.Baking soda is the least abrasive anti-bacterial substance you can use for oral hygiene.Mix baking soda with water. Use 2/3 cups (185 g) for a long-term supply or a teaspoon (4.93 g) for a one-time test. Add water drop by drop and mix thoroughly until the baking soda becomes a paste.
- It's best to avoid toothpaste for this method. Even toothpastes formulated for sensitive teeth can cause abrasions on flexible plastic. Abrasions provide hiding places for bacteria that can lead to oral infections.
Apply the paste with a toothbrush.Use only a brush with soft or ultra soft bristles. More abrasive bristles can wear down the plastic of the bite guard. You can use your regular toothbrush for this method, whether it's manual, electric, or battery-powered.
Brush the bite guard.Use the same horizontal and/or vertical strokes you normally use to brush your teeth. Just apply less pressure. Brush the inside and outside of the bite guard. Make sure you clean the entire surface to kill harmful bacteria. Rinse the guard with warm water when you're finished brushing.
Dry the bite guard.When the baking soda is completely rinsed off, lay the bite guard on a clean towel. Make sure the towel is on a flat surface to reduce the risk of the guard falling on the floor. Allow it to air dry for 15-30 minutes. Make sure it's completely dry before putting it back in its protective case.
Deep Cleaning with Vinegar and Peroxide
Place your bite guard in a glass or container.Any container wide enough to fit your bite guard will do. This can be an old hummus container, large coffee mug, or wide drinking glass. Make sure you can easily place your bite guard on the bottom of the container without forcing it in.
- Avoid a metal container. The acid in the vinegar could corrode the container and leave deposits on your bite guard.
Soak your bite guard in vinegar.Pour enough white distilled vinegar into the container to cover the bite guard. Allow it to soak for 30 minutes. Set a timer, if necessary. When the 30 minutes is up, rinse the bite guard and the container with lukewarm water.
Follow up with a hydrogen peroxide soak.Hydrogen peroxide will bleach discolorations out of the bite guard while neutralizing the vinegar taste. Use enough peroxide to submerge the bite guard. Let it soak for 30 minutes, setting a timer if you need to. When time is up, rinse the bite guard and the container with lukewarm water.
- Don't keep the bite guard in any liquid longer than an hour. Extended soaks can damage the material.
Allow the bite guard to dry.Lay a clean towel on a flat surface. Then, place the bite guard on the towel. Lay it hollow side-down to allow the water to drain from the surface properly. This should take 15 to 30 minutes. Put the bite guard back in its case when it's completely dry.
Deep Cleaning with Cleaning Tablets
Purchase denture or retainer cleaner.These cleaners usually come in the form of cleaning tablets that dissolve in water. You can buy them over the counter in any drug store or big box store. If money is tight, opt for the denture cleaner.
Find a wide container.This can be any drinking glass, mug, or clean container. Use only plastic or glass vessels for this step. Make sure the container is wide enough to fit the bite guard without forcing it in.
Immerse the bite guard in water.Drop the bite guard into the container. Use enough water to cover the bite guard completely. You can use lukewarm tap water or bottled water at room temperature.
Add the cleaner.Follow the directions on the package. In many cases, you can get a decent cleaning with one tablet. Allow the tablet to dissolve completely.
Soak the bite guard.Let it stay in the water/cleaner mixture for about 30 minutes or the recommended time on the package. Set a timer if you need to keep track. Don't let the bite guard soak for more than an hour. Rinse the guard with lukewarm water when the soak is finished.
Let it dry.Lay a clean towel on a flat surface. When the cleaner is completely rinsed off, place the bite guard hollow side-down on the towel. Allow it to air dry for 15-30 minutes. Put the guard back in its case.
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