If you have obstructive sleep apnea, an oral appliance is an effective solution to significantly decrease or eliminate interruptions in breathing. The comfortable, custom-fit device repositions your lower jaw forward to prevent the airway from collapsing. It can last for several years with the right care, like routine sanitization. Since it goes in your mouth, cleaning your oral appliance is crucial to your oral health and the longevity of the device. Here are 4 tips to ensure it’s germ-free.
How Does an Oral Appliance Work?
The most common form of sleep apnea is caused by an obstruction in your airway. The soft tissues in the back of your mouth and throat collapse to block airflow. This can result in hundreds of interruptions in breathing while you sleep. An oral appliance looks like an athletic mouthguard; however, it does more than protect the teeth. It protrudes your lower jaw forward to keep your airway open to stop the pauses in breathing.
How Do I Clean My Oral Appliance?
Your oral appliance requires daily care to remove harmful bacteria that can lead to odors and infections. You can keep your oral appliance clean by following a few simple tips:
1. Brush and Floss
Brush and floss your teeth well before wearing the device at night. You’ll remove trapped food particles and plaque that can harbor bacteria. If you skip brushing and flossing, you allow food residue and bacteria to be trapped against your teeth while you’re sleeping, increasing your risk of cavities and oral infections.
2. Rinse Your Oral Appliance
Besides brushing and flossing, don’t forget to rinse your appliance and dry it completely before putting it back into your mouth. When rinsing it, avoid using hot water and never expose it to boiling temperatures, which can cause it to warp.
3. Brush Your Oral Appliance Daily
After you’ve finished brushing your teeth in the morning, it’s time to clean your oral appliance. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and clear antibacterial soap to clean it. Never use toothpaste, which can cause damage to the device. Your dentist will also recommend skipping soaps that have dyes because they can stain the appliance. Be sure to clean all surfaces of the device before allowing it to dry.
4. Dry Your Oral Appliance
Once you’ve cleaned your oral appliance, rinse it off well and place it in its storage container without closing the lid or leave it in the open air to dry. Never put it away while it’s still wet to prevent bacteria growth.
In a few simple minutes each day, you can ensure your oral appliance lasts for as long as possible while investing in your oral health. You’ll breathe better and enjoy a healthy smile.
About Dr. Brian Zulawinski
Dr. Zulawinski earned his dental degree at the Indiana University School of Dentistry. He has completed hundreds of hours of continuing education to provide specialty services, like sleep apnea therapy. Dr. Zulawinski creates personalized plans for each patient. If you have sleep apnea or need an oral appliance, contact our office today to schedule your consultation.