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Oral Health Buzz

How to Keep an Athletic Mouth Guard Clean

AM Hopkins

One of the greatest inventions in safety equipment for athletes is the athletic mouth guard. These devices help to safeguard the mouth and prevent oral injuries while engaging in athletic activity. Simply consider the numerous crashes and collisions that occur in a typical football game, and the importance of the mouthguard is evident.

Even though they keep our teeth safe, their potentially dangerous side is often overlooked. In fact, these guards can be a breeding ground for harmful bacteria, such as staph and strep. Whether your athlete is in the big leagues or the peewee league, ensuring that their mouth guard is clean can help keep them healthy.

Both before and after wearing a mouth guard it's important to both brush and rinse your teeth. Doing this before you put the guard on helps to clean and rid the teeth of any bacteria that remains in the mouth so that it doesn't spread to the guard. The mouth is always full of bacteria of all forms, the good and the bad. Keeping your mouth clean is the only way to create a healthy balance. Brush and rinse after wearing a mouth guard to rid the mouth of any bacteria that may have been on the guard.

Equally important is the manner in which the athletic mouth guard is stored. It should be stored in a clean container that is moisture-free and has air vents. Regular cleaning of the container helps to prevent the spread of germs, as well. Wash the container using a non-toxic cleaner and warm water and ensure that it is completely dry before placing the mouth guard inside.

As hard as it may seem, especially during those finger biting moments of the game, discourage the habit of chewing on the mouth guard. Although it may seem harmless, chewing on the guard creates tiny holes. These holes can serve as a home for bacteria. Once this harmful bacteria is present, there is very little you can do to prevent it from spreading. A guard that is showing clearly visible signs of wear and tear probably needs to be replaced. It may even be helpful to take the mouth guard along with you to a dental appointment. Allow the dentist to look over it and advise you on whether it's time for a replacement. Learn more about sports safety in the Colgate Oral Care resources.

Source: Flickr

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