Mouth guards are a great solution for bruxism (teeth grinding) and TMJ, but unfortunately, night guards can develop a smell if not cared for properly. Does your night guard smell? If you’ve ever noticed a strange funk when you take your night guard out of its case, you may have been tempted to forgo wearing the protective oral appliance. Failing to wear your night guard; however, leaves your teeth and jaw vulnerable to the negative effects of grinding and clenching.
Fortunately, there are ways to avoid this smell before it appears and ways to fix it if it already exists. You can successfully protect your oral health while keeping your night guard smelling fresh.
How to Get Rid of Mouth Guard Smell
You can prevent your night guard from smelling and get rid of any existing smell with simple routine cleaning. Once you make cleaning part of your daily routine, you’ll likely notice your night guard smells much better. Knowing your night guard is clean will make you more likely to wear it consistently and will allow it to do its job.
Start by cleaning your mouthguard after each use. There are many ways you can clean your night guard. One of the simplest methods is to brush it with a soft bristle toothbrush and non-abrasive toothpaste after you finish brushing your teeth each morning. You should designate a separate toothbrush for cleaning your dental guard that is not used to brush your teeth.
If you’re short on time, at the very least, you should rinse your mouth guard with warm water after each use. Rinsing isn’t the best option, but it’s better than not cleaning your mouth guard at all.
Additionally, consider doing a deep cleaning for your night guard once a week. Some products you can use to deep clean your night guard include:
- Denture cleaner (cleaning tablets)
- Mouthwash with fluoride (avoid mouthwash that contains alcohol as this can damage the guard)
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Baking soda
- White vinegar
- Antibacterial soap (dish soap)
- Cleaning solution
You can also try contacting your dentist. He or she may be able to give your night guard a deep clean in the dental office if your night guard smells bad.
A mistake some people make that can lead to a smelly night guard is not letting it dry before placing it back in its case. When you’re done cleaning your mouthguard for the morning, let it air dry or dry it with a clean towel before placing it back in the case. Additionally, be sure there are holes in your case to allow for air circulation. You may also find it helpful to clean your case weekly when you do your night guard deep clean.
Why Do Mouth Guards Develop a Smell?
Night guards develop a smell for the same reason that you wake up with morning breath. Halitosis — the official name for bad breath — has many causes, including bacteria, dry mouth, infection, some medications, and tonsil stones. (Mayo Clinic Bad Breath)
When bad breath is caused by bacteria, that smell can easily transfer to your night guard. Mouthguards can be breeding grounds for bacteria, which grows in moist environments. If bacteria is left unchecked, it can eventually lead to infection as well.
A study titled Impact of frequency of denture cleaning on microbial and clinical parameters – a bench to chairside approach examined how often dentures (another device worn in the mouth daily) should be cleaned. The authors found that “daily cleaning with denture cleanser plus brushing significantly reduced microbial numbers compared to intermittent denture cleaning with daily brushing.” This suggests that the same would hold true for night guard cleaning routines (Ramage et al 2018).
When Is It Time to Purchase a New Mouth Guard?
Custom night guards are made with durable materials, but no mouth guard will last forever, even with proper care. In most cases, properly taking care of your night guard will get rid of the smell. However, if you cannot get rid of the smell, that is a sign that you need to get a new night guard. This can indicate that bad bacteria are sticking around.
Some other signs that it’s time for a new night guard include discoloration of either the whole night guard or localized spots. Black spots indicate that mold might be growing on your night guard.
Getting Rid of Night Guard Smell
The best way to avoid smell on your night guard is to clean it daily and deep clean it weekly. If you notice your night guard doesn’t smell quite right, that’s a sign you need to start cleaning it better. Fortunately, there are many effective cleaning methods. Simple maintenance, such as brushing your night guard daily with a soft toothbrush should keep your night guard clean and smelling fresh.
When you’re not able to keep your night guard smelling clean or if you notice discoloration, it’s time to purchase a new night guard. At Pro Teeth Guard, you can get a custom-fit mouthguard at an affordable price. We make our night guards in a professional dental lab, and every night guard is guaranteed to fit comfortably with our 110% money-back guarantee.
- Mayo Clinic Writing Staff. (2018). Bad breath. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bad-breath/symptoms-causes/syc-20350922
- Nunez, K. (2020). How to clean mouthguards: At home, with chemicals, and more. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-clean-mouthguard
- Ramage, G. et al. (2018). Impact of frequency of denture cleaning on microbial and clinical parameters – a bench to chairside approach. Taylor & Francis Online. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/20002297.2018.1538437