When you brux, your mouth guard is an important part of your nighttime attire. Wearing it protects your smile and your oral health from the pressures of teeth grinding, so you'll want to keep it in good condition. Unfortunately, any oral appliance can fall prey to fungi if you aren't careful. Black mold on night guards isn't just gross or unattractive. This daunting discoloration could be a serious health hazard. Since it may force you to replace your mouth guard sooner than expected, it can also be a hazard to your wallet. For these reasons, proper care is important for all orthodontics.
Whether it's a custom-fit night guard for bruxism and TMJ, a retainer, or a sports mouthguard worn for contact sports such as MMA or football, it's essential that you take the necessary steps to keep these devices clean and free of mold. The process starts with understanding the dangers of black mold. You'll also need to be able to identify the substance and be prepared to respond effectively if you spot black mold on your custom mouth guard. Of course, prevention is preferable, so we will provide you with strategies to keep your mouthguard clean and avoid mold formation before it begins.
Identifying Black Mold on Night Guards
When it comes to mold, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention keeps its advice simple. If you find mold, then a health risk may be present, so you should take steps to get rid of it. You should never use your night guard if mold is present.
The first step is recognizing your enemy. If black mold takes up residence on your mouth guard, you'll notice small black or greenish-black spots. They may have a slimy or wet texture, so professionals recommend using a paper towel or gloves to feel and identify the substance. You may also notice a musty or earthy smell. If you are having difficulty identifying mold on your mouth guard, visit your dentist or orthodontist for further information.
Is Black Mold Dangerous?
As MedicalNewsToday explains, experts estimate there may be more than 300,000 strains of mold floating around, so it's no surprise that mold spores are everywhere. Outside, mold serves an important purpose. It helps to speed the breakdown of organic matter, nourishing the soil and clearing the way for new growth.
While mold serves a purpose, you certainly do not want it in your food, home, or mouth guard. In an indoor environment, mold can inflict major damage to property. Worse, it can make people sick. As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency notes, “Molds produce allergens (substances that can cause allergic reactions), irritants, and in some cases, potentially toxic substances (mycotoxins)”. Those with mold allergies are likely to have more severe symptoms.
Symptoms of black mold exposure may include:
- Coughing or sneezing
- Eye or skin irritation
- Sore throat
However, mold does not always invite these symptoms. Healthline explains, “Mold can affect people in different ways, and it often causes no symptoms at all” (2020). Individuals who spend more time around black mold may have stronger reactions. Vulnerable populations like those with mold allergies, children, the elderly, and people with respiratory or immune issues may also have more health troubles.
When Black Mold Gets on Your Mouth Guard
Black mold grows in wet or damp environments so it is possible that it grows on mouthpieces. If you discover signs of black mold on your mouth guard, don't use it until it's been thoroughly cleaned. Unfortunately, you'll need to purchase a new mouthguard if cleaning fails to remove all signs of the mold. Buying new mouthguards frequently can get expensive, so it's wise to get in the habit of taking good care of yours.
Preventing Mold Growth on Mouth Guards
Developing a consistent care routine is the best way to safeguard your mouth guard from mold growth. It's fairly simple. Start by rinsing it with warm water (or hot water) every morning. This removes any debris or bacteria. Do not use boiling water as it may alter the shape of your night guard. Dry it gently. Mold needs moisture to thrive, so drying your mouth guard makes it less attractive to the fungus. Finally, store your appliance in a clean, hard case to ensure that it doesn't come into contact with anything unpleasant before you're ready to use it again. This process should be completed each night you use your night guard.
Deep clean your mouth guard every 2 weeks to avoid mold growth and other bacteria.
You should also give your mouth guard a deep cleaning at least every two weeks to avoid mold and other buildup. There are several ways to go about this:
- With a soft toothbrush: Use a soft toothbrush and a nonabrasive toothpaste to gently scrub the appliance. Then, rinse it with cold water. To avoid damaging the mouth guard, keep a toothbrush that's just for this purpose. Don't use your regular toothbrush.
- With baking soda: If you prefer an organic approach, you can combine a small amount of baking soda and water to make a paste. Then, use a small toothbrush to scrub your mouthguard with this paste. Rinse thoroughly.
- With soap and water: Carefully wash the oral appliance with soap and water. Choose an alcohol-free soap to avoid damaging the mouth guard. Rinse thoroughly.
- With mouthwash: Choose a container large enough to hold the mouth guard. Pour a mix of alcohol-free mouthwash and water into it. Soak the appliance for about 30 minutes. Rinse thoroughly.
- With a denture cleaning solution: Follow the directions on the package of denture cleaner. Rinse thoroughly.
- With hydrogen peroxide: Place the mouth guard in a container. Then, fill the container with hydrogen peroxide. Make sure that the appliance is submerged, and let it soak for a few minutes. Rinse thoroughly.
- With a bleach solution: Dilute two or three drops of bleach in water in a container large enough to hold the mouth guard. Allow the mouth guard to soak for a few minutes. Rinse thoroughly.
Black Mold on Mouth Guards
Black mold on night guards is a problem that no one wants. After all, a moldy mouth guard can lead to serious health problems if you don't treat the issue. Alternately, you might face extra expense if it forces you to discard your oral appliance and replace it with a new, clean mouth guard. Fortunately, there are many effective methods to clean a mouth guard and prevent mold from ever growing.
When you're searching for the best mouthguard, check out Pro Teeth Guard. We offer custom fit mouthguards online for an affordable price. Crafted in a dental lab using professional materials and processes, they're effectively the mouth guards that you’d receive from a dentist, but at a fraction of the cost. Pro Teeth Guard also offers a 110% warranty.
- CDC Writing Staff. (2020). Basic Facts about Mold and Dampness. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/mold/faqs.htm
- EPA Staff Writers. (2019). Can mold cause health problems? United States Environmental Protection Agency. https://www.epa.gov/mold/can-mold-cause-health-problems
- Jewell, T., Klein, E. (2020). Black Mold Spores and More. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/black-mold-exposure
- McIntosh, J. (2019). Mold in the home: how big a health problem is it? Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/288651#_noHeaderPrefixedContent