Mouthguard Cleaning Tips
High sticks and elbows and pucks, oh my; there's no shortage of flying objects in a hockey game that have the potential to dislodge a tooth or two. While losing a tooth is something of a rite of passage among hockey players, a good mouthguard can save a player from a lot of pain and money over the course of a season. Mouthguards are like any other piece of equipment, however, in that they too require maintenance and cleaning to stay effective.
Cleaning a mouthguard can help Protect Your Teeth protect your teeth and reduce the risk of harm because of the sheer number of bacteria that a mouthguard collects over the course of just one game. Our mouths naturally contain a lot of bacteria, and the pre-game meals and shared bottles of Gatorade don't help. Studies have suggested that use of dirty mouthguards not only increases your risk of infection, but can also contribute to exercise-induced asthma. What's more, dirty samples of mouthguards collected from athletes have turned up not just bacteria but also yeast and even mold.
Follow the suggestions below to help ensure your mouthguard is as clean as possible:
- Use an antibacterial solution. While a quick rinse is better than no cleaning at all, it's not enough to run water over your mouthguard and call it a day. However, using an antibacterial agent like Guard Health will go a long way toward helping if you don't have time for a full clean: A quick squirt before and after use and your guard will remain fresh and clean.
- Deep-clean your mouthguard at least once a month. A thorough clean should be done at least once per month. The health community is split on the use of a toothbrush and toothpaste for a mouthguard. While toothpaste will kill any germs it comes in contact with, the scrubbing motion leads to a breakdown of the plastic and metal needed to keep the mouthguard in place. Instead, use denture cleaner as a way of making certain that your mouthguard remains clean. The effervescent cleaners can reach into each of the small spaces that other cleaners cannot. This is especially helpful because mouthguards will naturally develop cracks or small holes where bacteria can thrive.
- Clean your case. Washing a mouthguard, however, is only half the battle, since it spends a small amount of time in your mouth. The case, its normal home, will transfer more germs onto the mouthguard if not cleaned. Luckily, the case can be brushed much more roughly than the mouthguard, making it easier to clean. However, a quick squirt of Guard Health will make certain your mouthguard has a clean home to rest in.
- Replace your mouthguard, when needed. Some hockey players have a fondness for gear they've had a long while. At some point, though, mouthguards simply collect so much bacteria that it needs to be discarded. Be certain to replace your mouthguard whenever any cracks become so large that they can cut the cheeks or gums, as this is a surefire way to spread infection.
By keeping the above tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to keeping your mouthguard clean, helping you stay healthy so you can focus on more important aspects of the game.
Author bio: AJ Lee is Marketing Specialist at Pro Stock Hockey, an online hockey shop offering pro stock hockey equipment. Lee picked up his first hockey stick at age 3 and hasn’t put it down yet. He’s an avid Blackhawks fan and is an expert in all things hockey equipment