Care of Athletic Mouthguard

There are many reasons to have the protection of an athletic mouthguard.

A mouthguard protects your teeth when you participate in physical activities that are potentially dangerous to your teeth and mouth.  But, have you ever thought about what you are doing to protect your mouthguard?

Your protective athletic mouthguard is always doing one of these three things:

Custom Athletic Mouthguard1 – Protecting you during an activity.
2 – Being stored, awaiting its next use.
3 – Getting cleaned.

Below, I will discuss some ways to care for your protective athletic mouthguard – whether it is being used, stored, or cleaned.

Caring For Your Protective Athletic Mouthguard While It’s In Use

Any time we have something in our mouths, we have a strong desire to chew.  It’s just human instinct.  When you have gum in your mouth, you want to chew.  When food enters your mouth, you unconsciously start chewing it.  So it is easy to see why some get into the habit of chewing on their mouthguards, especially while participating in nerve-wracking sports games!  Unfortunately, chewing on your mouthguard will drastically shorten its life.

The associate dean at my dental school is an avid football fan.  Many of the high school students in his community go to him to get custom mouthguards made.  He told us the story of an excellent high school football player who would chew through his mouthguard each week while he was sitting on the sidelines.  Consequently, the associate dean made him a new mouthguard before each and every game!  While this player was fortunate to have a football fan for his dentist, you may not be so lucky and the cost of replacing mouthguards on a frequent basis can really add up.

So, if you find yourself wanting to bite your mouthguard while you’re not in the game, try taking it out until you get back into the game so that you can extend its life.  But please do remember to put it back in!  Your teeth need protection.

How to Properly Store Your Protective Athletic Mouthguard

Once the game is over (and hopefully won), most players are focused on celebrating the victory and simply toss their custom mouthguard anywhere it will fit.

Many high school football players get into the habit of storing their mouthguards in their face-guards, helmets, or backpacks.  If the mouthguard is shoved in a tight place, it can easily get distorted.

Since custom mouthguards are made out of a soft plastic, any unnatural pressure can distort them and will result in a poor fit the next time they are used.

Ideally, you should get the cast of your teeth that your dentist used to make the mouthguard and put the mouthguard on that cast after each use.  That way, the mouthguard will conform to the cast and retain its custom fit.

However, a more practical way to store your mouthguard is in a case that your dentist can provide.  Be sure to keep it in a cool, dry place as heat can also distort your mouthguard.  Leaving your mouthguard in a parked car on a hot summer day could also seriously distort it.

How to Properly Clean Your Protective Athletic Mouthguard

Hopefully, you’re not just using and storing your mouthguard without cleaning it!  Like any dental appliance that sits in your mouth for a long period of time, custom mouthguards need to be cleaned.  Without regular cleanings, bacteria will multiply and cause unpleasant odors to develop.  This could even result in bad breath after wearing your mouthguard.

Luckily, cleaning your mouthguard is quite simple:

After you are done using it, simply rinse it off with cold water.  That’s all.

Many people want to use hot water since they think that will get it cleaner.  Remember, heat can distort your custom mouthguard.  You may also be tempted to use alcohol, denture cleaning products, or toothpaste to clean your mouthguard.  All of these cleaners can harm your custom mouthguard, especially the denture products and toothpaste since they are generally more abrasive.

The book, Craig’s Restorative Dental Materials recommends periodically deep cleaning your custom mouthguard with a solution of soap and water.  A mild liquid hand soap will work well for this.


As long as you treat your mouthguard with care while wearing it, store it in a proper container, and rinse it with cold water after each use, you can expect to get a long life out of your custom mouthguard.

Do you have any questions or comments about caring for your custom athletic mouthguard?  Please leave them in the comments section below.  Thanks for visiting!

Reasons to Wear a Mouthguard
©Jason Stitt/

Common sense dictates that it’s a good idea to wear a mouthguard if you play contact sports or engage in any activity where you could potentially damage your teeth.  However, we don’t always do what we know is in our best interest.

Mouthguards: Football TeamThere are several reasons why people don’t wear mouthguards.  Sometimes people don’t know that the activity that they are engaging in requires a mouthguard.   Teenagers may not wear them because there is peer pressure to not wear one.  After all, nobody wants to be the only one on their team that wears a mouthguard!  Others might complain that a mouthguard is uncomfortable or interferes with their speech and breathing.

However, there are several reasons to wear a mouthguard.  I would like to share some of them with you.  My goal is not to convince you to wear a mouthguard (or to convince you to make your child to wear a mouthguard) if you are not already.  But I do hope that this article will increase your awareness of the implications of wearing or not wearing a mouthguard so that you can make an informed decision.

Six Reasons to Wear a Protective Dental Mouthguard

1. Mouthguards Protect Against Tooth Fractures

One of the most important functions of mouthguards are to keep your teeth from breaking.  If your tooth does fracture, it usually can be saved.  Here’s a few types of tooth fractures and their respective treatment: