why do mouthguards smell

why do mouthguards smell

Why Do Mouthguards Smell?

why do mouthguards smell

Mouthguards are essential pieces of equipment for athletes participating in contact sports. They protect the teeth, gums, and jaw from impact, reducing the risk of injury. However, over time, mouthguards can develop an unpleasant odor that can be off-putting and even harmful to the wearer. In this article, we will explore the reasons why mouthguards smell and what can be done to prevent it.

1. Bacteria Buildup

The primary reason why mouthguards smell is due to bacteria buildup. When you wear a mouthguard, it creates a warm, moist environment that is perfect for bacteria to thrive. Bacteria can quickly multiply and produce an unpleasant odor that can be difficult to remove.

One way to prevent bacteria buildup is to clean your mouthguard regularly. Rinse it with water after each use and use a mild soap or mouthwash to clean it thoroughly. You can also soak it in a solution of hydrogen peroxide and water for a few minutes to kill any bacteria.

2. Food and Drink Particles

Another reason why mouthguards can smell is due to food and drink particles that get trapped inside. When you eat or drink with your mouthguard in, small particles can get stuck between the guard and your teeth. These particles can then ferment and produce an unpleasant odor.

To prevent food and drink particles from getting trapped inside your mouthguard, avoid eating or drinking anything while wearing it. If you must eat or drink, remove the mouthguard and rinse your mouth thoroughly before putting it back in.

3. Improper Storage

How you store your mouthguard can also affect its smell. If you leave it in a damp, dark place, it can develop mold and mildew, which can produce an unpleasant odor. Make sure to store your mouthguard in a clean, dry place, such as a case or container, to prevent mold and mildew growth.

You can also use a mouthguard cleaning solution to disinfect and deodorize your mouthguard. These solutions are designed to kill bacteria and remove odors, leaving your mouthguard fresh and clean.

4. Age of the Mouthguard

The age of your mouthguard can also affect its smell. Over time, mouthguards can break down and become less effective at protecting your teeth and gums. As they age, they can also develop an unpleasant odor.

If your mouthguard is more than a year old, it may be time to replace it. A new mouthguard will not only protect your teeth and gums better, but it will also be free of any unpleasant odors.

5. Type of Mouthguard

The type of mouthguard you use can also affect its smell. Some materials, such as rubber or vinyl, can trap bacteria and produce an unpleasant odor over time. Other materials, such as silicone or polyurethane, are less likely to develop odors.

If you are concerned about the smell of your mouthguard, consider switching to a different type of material. Silicone or polyurethane mouthguards are more expensive, but they are also more durable and less likely to develop odors.

6. Health Conditions

In some cases, a bad odor from your mouthguard may be a sign of an underlying health condition. For example, if you have gum disease or tooth decay, bacteria can build up in your mouth and produce an unpleasant odor.

If you suspect that your mouthguard smell is due to a health condition, make an appointment with your dentist. They can examine your teeth and gums and recommend treatment to address any underlying issues.


Mouthguards are essential for protecting your teeth and gums during contact sports. However, they can develop an unpleasant odor over time due to bacteria buildup, food and drink particles, improper storage, age, and material. To prevent mouthguard odor, clean it regularly, avoid eating or drinking while wearing it, store it in a dry place, replace it if it’s more than a year old, consider switching to a different material, and seek dental care if you suspect an underlying health condition.

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