Like all protective equipment, mouth guards wear down over the course of the season. In fact, since mouth guards are subject to the mouths harsh environment, they go through quite a beating and must be changed more frequently than other equipment.
The question that comes to mind is: How long does your mouthguard last? How often should you replace it?
When it comes to sports mouth guards, a good rule of thumb is to replace it after each season. For youth athletes, because of their growth and teeth movement, we recommend replacing guards more frequently to provide optimal protection, comfort and effectiveness. If an athlete participates in multiple sports and always wears the same guard, it is important for them to frequently replace their mouth guard.
A mouth guard's shelf life is determined by two factors; its usage, and how you take care of it. In all cases, a poorly maintained mouth guard wears out almost 2 times more quickly than when properly maintained.
Taking care of your sports mouth guard isn't a difficult endeavour. We've made a quick check list to help you get the most out of your mouth guard.
Once you take the guard out of your mouth, make sure you rinse it off with cool water or submerge it in an antibacterial agent like an effervescent cleaner to remove any lingering bacteria. Before use, rinse down with water to remove soap residue.
One of the worst things you can do to a mouth guard is chewing on it. Chewing or clenching does not just reduce its protective qualities, it also alters the wearers fit and comfort. When you chew on a mouth guard, the materials deform and break down creating weak points. These weakened areas make the guard less effective at absorbing and redistributing the force of impacts; thus, decreasing it's protectiveness which could lead to dental injury. If your chewing has caused rips or tears in the material, we recommend replacing the guard immediately.
Throwing your guard into a dirty gym bag or locker is the last thing you want to do. To avoid damage and permit air circulation, we recommend you store and transport it in a firm, perforated container. It's important to note that you must not close the mouthguard container until the freshly washed mouthguard is dry. The guard should never be exposed to heat or direct sunlight for a prolonged period of time since this could accelerate bacteria growth and material distortion.
The general wear and tear of each mouth guard naturally occurs over time and reduces the guards protective qualities. It is therefore recommended that you examine the piece for cracks, splits and tears or any other signs of deterioration. If you are experiencing gum/teeth irritation or any unsatisfactory retention, you should consider replacing the guard. In addition, for optimal safety and mouth guard comfort, you should always remove retainers and/or other orthodontic appliances before wearing the guard.