How to care for your dental appliance

Q. How often do you need to replace your dental appliance? sports

A. Probably more often than you do—if you don’t care for it properly!

Occasionally we have a patient who brings a distorted mouth guard or teeth-whitening tray to a dental appointment, and requests a new one. Since the damage to the appliance most commonly occurs as a result of an improper cleaning solution or improper storage, some information on proper care might be helpful to anyone who has such a dental appliance. These appliances are expensive to replace, but proper care can help them to last much longer.

The most common dental appliances are:

  • A protective mouth guard, which is custom-fitted and helps prevent damage to the teeth and mouth during contact sports or other physical activity.
  • A dental night guard, which is inserted at bedtime and fits snugly over the teeth to act as a cushion between the upper and lower teeth and which minimizes the effects of any grinding or clenching that might wear down the teeth.
  • Snore guard: custom fitted snore guard positions the lower jaw forward using special connectors that are attached to upper and lower trays to minimize airway obstructions and snoring.
  • A teeth-whitening tray, which is a custom-fitted, thin, flexible plastic tray that ensures proper application of a bleaching solution for at-home teeth-whitening.
  • Invisalign Aligners: Custom made series of aligners used to straighten teeth.

The steps you can take to make your appliance last longer:

  • Before using your appliance, rinse your guard with cool water;
  • After using your appliance, wash it in cool, soapy water, and rinse it thoroughly; then brush it with a toothbrush and toothpaste;
  • Soak the appliance in antiseptic mouth rinse for 10-15 minutes periodically, and then rinse it under cool water;
  • Store and carry your appliance in a protective container that has openings for ventilation;
  • Keep your appliance out of hot water or direct sunlight, because heat can distort it and affect its fit;
  • Inspect your appliance regularly for wear and tear; and finally,
  • If you observe any change or deterioration in your appliance, bring it to your dental checkup appointment to see if it needs replacement.

Your appliance was designed to do a job, but, if it’s not maintained in the proper condition, it’s not doing that job.

Remember, your dentist doesn’t want you to spend any more than you need to on protecting or whitening your teeth, and so it’s up to you to keep your appliance in good shape!

Editing by Veronica McDavid,

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