Night guards are built to give your jaw a break. Muscle soreness and teeth grinding, or more serious cases of temporomandibular disorder (TMJ), can cause a lot of symptoms throughout the day, including:
- jaw pain and tenderness,
- pain near your ear, in your facial muscles, and in your neck,
- difficulty chewing and opening your jaw, and
- clicking or grinding sounds in your jaw.
One of the most common causes of TMJ is habitually grinding your teeth. This can happen in your sleep, which makes it particularly difficult to stop. So many dentists will recommend using a night guard that can help hold your jaw in the right position and protect your teeth.
If you want to make sure you’re taking good care of your night guard so it stays clear, clean, and comfortable, follow these steps:
Add cleaning your night guard to your morning teeth cleaning routine.
As soon as you wake up in the morning, rinse off your night guard. This will remove the buildup of chemicals and stains from overnight use. If your night guard isn’t regularly cleaned as soon as possible, then it will start to turn yellow and opaque.
Next, brush your night guard. The same toothpaste that’s designed to remove bacteria and food from your teeth will work just as well for the night guard.
Make sure you’re storing your guard correctly.
Even when your night guard is newly cleaned, it still needs the right conditions for dry storage. Always give it approximately twenty minutes to fully dry after cleaning, then put it away in its case. Leaving it on the bathroom counter leaves it exposed to all of the moisture and hot air in your bathroom. That can encourage mold to grow and make it lose its shape.
Deep cleaning your night guard and its case every week is almost important to clear away less visible buildup. Go to Exquisite Smiles for more information about taking care of your night guard and your TMJ.