A mouth guard is a piece of moldable plastic used to protect your teeth when you play contact sports. The American Dental Association (ADA) states that while this type of guard is beneficial to athletes who engage in hockey, football and boxing, people who participate in more solitary sports, including gymnastics, can also gain dental protection from the device. Mouth guards are susceptible to bacterial growth and should be cleaned on a regular basis to prevent irritation and infection in your mouth.
Use a regular toothbrush and toothpaste to clean your mouth guard after you have finished wearing it for the day. Rinse in cool water, making sure all of the crevices are free of toothpaste.
Clean your mouth guard more thoroughly with a mild soap and cool water. Hot water can cause moldable mouth guards to alter their shape or break down, notes the ADA. If you do not have soap handy, rinse the device in plain cool water before wearing it. If you regularly brush your mouth guard, washing with soap does not need to be done every day, but on a more limited basis (according to frequency of use).
Rinse your mouth guard in mouthwash before putting it away. The same type of germ-killing mouthwash you use to rinse your mouth also provides antibacterial benefits to your mouth guard.
Place your mouth guard in a container or case that has ventilation holes, as air circulation reduces the likelihood of bacterial growth. You can also pat the mouth guard dry with a soft cloth or let it air dry before putting it away.