The Science Behind a Smelly Dental Night Guard

If you've used a dental nightguard before, you're well aware of the perils of long-term use... not to your teeth, obviously, your teeth are protected! Rather, the result of months of use: The smelly nightguard.  But what causes that awful smell?

Royalty free illustration courtesy of iStockPhotoUnsurprisingly, the same forces are at work making your dental nightguard smell bad as those behind that old standby, halitosis – a.k.a. bad breath. Let's talk a little bit about what's going on inside your mouth and the ways that you can protect your nightguard, just as you would your teeth and your overall oral health.

Oral ecology: It sounds fancy, but it's basically just a way to describe the system of organisms that live in your mouth. And we all have them – don't think that just because you brush your teeth four times a day that your mouth is bacteria-free! In fact, a microbe-free mouth something that you absolutely do not want.

The two main components of oral ecology are bacteria and saliva, both of which have the capability to harm you but also, in many instances are both beneficial and necessary in order to protect your immune system. Saliva, for example, contains many of its own bacterial enzymes such as lysozomes which are there to kill any harmful bacteria you might encounter and ensure that the ecology of your mouth stays balanced.

Royalty free image courtesy of Pexels.comBecause saliva is always flowing in your mouth, it also goes a long way toward just ensuring that bacteria doesn't find a place to take root and for biofilms, which lead to the growth of unhealthy organisms. The surfaces of your teeth, of course, are extremely complex and therefore saliva can't possibly wash away all of the bad bacteria... and this is what leads to plaque.

The main suspects in poor oral hygiene are:

• Streptococcus mutans: These are the bacteria that feed on sugar and starches, producing acids that erode your tooth enamel. They are the main cause of cavities and other oral diseases.
• Porphyromonas gingivalis: Over time, poor oral hygiene can also lead to periodontitis a.k.a. gum disease. These bacteria begin to take up residence when gums are damaged and over time, will also wreck havoc on the alveolar bone that supports your teeth.

In short, the generation of these tissue and enamel-damaging substances is what creates that unpleasant smell; bad habits such as smoking, chewing tobacco or vaping can exacerbate things, too. Provided you cut out bad habits, you'll still need to ensure that you brush and floss regularly in order to keep the bad bacteria in check. (Using an antimicrobial mouthwash also helps!)

Dental guard image; royalty free image courtesy of Pexels.comBecause you're using your nightguard every day – sometimes for hours at a time – it's important to clean it as regularly as you would your teeth. You should rinse or soak your dental nightguard in warm water immediately after you wear it, brush it with a soft toothbrush – not the brush you use for yout teeth, one that is just for your nightguard – using a small amount of anti-microbial soap, then rinse very thoroughly. 

Of course, over time both the wear and tear on your nightguard from grinding – which is what keeps your teeth safe! – as well as cumulative bacterial growth means that replacing your nightguard every few months is your best bet. We described this a bit in a previous blog, but basically ClearClub's subscription option offers a convenient, low-cost way to receive a new nightguard every three to six months using the same impressions you only need to take once. And if your teeth alignment changes, you can request a new impression kit at any time!

Try ClearClub's subscription today, your teeth will thank you!

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