How to stop grinding teeth with retainers

A. Do You Grind Your Teeth But Also Need A Retainer?

Teeth grinding or “bruxism” is a problem that affects millions of Americans. Grinding your teeth while you sleep can be harmful to your oral health as it causes your teeth to flatten and lose enamel, which can lead to tooth decay. Luckily, dental technology has come a long way and we now have a wide range of teeth grinding splints to protect your white teeth while you sleep.

1. What if you need a retainer?

That’s great news for most sufferers, but what if, like many Americans, you wear a retainer at night? We are often asked by our customers. Nobody wants to have to choose between a bright smile and protecting their teeth from grinding. The good news is that you don’t have to. With our wide range of teeth grinding solutions and retainers, there are two options for brux sufferers who also need to protect their teeth.

2. Essix Plus retainers

The first port of call for tooth breakers who need a retainer is to try an Essix Plus retainer. The new Essix Plus material is much more wear resistant than the standard Essix material. Essix plus retainers will withstand moderate grinding without wear and tear and will need to be replaced regularly. The beauty of this solution is that you don’t have to buy two products or choose between protecting your nail polish or aligning it. Unfortunately, if you’re a heavy toothbreaker, you’ll have to explore other options.

3. Hard Night Guard and a henchman

The main function of a night guard is to protect teeth from grinding/clenching. However, hard night splints can also help keep your teeth in place and protect your alignment. A tough night guard won’t work as well as retainers to keep teeth from shifting, but it’s certainly better than nothing. We recommend getting a strict night guard and retainer if you’re serious about keeping your smile. This allows you to switch between your night watchman and your henchmen. You can use night guards most nights, but you will want to use retainers a few nights a week. This will ensure that your teeth do not move significantly, preventing your retainers from wearing down your teeth.

B. Retainer Vs Night Guard For Teeth Grinding

While retainers and night guards may appear similar to the untrained eye, they are not the same and each type of mouthguard has its own unique purpose. Retainers are designed to help keep teeth in place, while night guards are designed to protect teeth. People with bruxism (teeth grinding and clenching) are required to wear night guards at night as a preventive measure. As you read on, we’ll see the subtle differences between the two. We also answer many of the frequently asked questions about henchmen and Night Wardens.

1. What is a retainer and what is it for?

Retainers are designed to keep your teeth properly aligned. Typically, people wear retainers after braces, Invisalign, or other orthodontic procedures that have brought teeth into optimal alignment. The retainer holds the teeth in their new position and is typically made of metal or plastic. If your teeth have recently been relocated to a new location in your mouth, they tend to go back to where they came from. A retainer prevents this and helps your teeth stay comfortable and stable in their new location.

2. What is a night watchman and what is it for?

Night splints are devices you place on your upper or lower teeth at night to protect your teeth and jaw from clenching or grinding your teeth (also known as bruxism). Depending on your needs and how you grind your teeth, your night shield will be made from a softer, more flexible rubber or a harder plastic. Although night guards are very similar to plastic retainers, their protective function is completely different than that of a retainer.

3. Can I use a retainer as a night guard?

If you have a hard plastic retainer that completely covers your upper or lower teeth, it can provide some protection and relief from minor grinding and clenching of your teeth, but retainers are not designed to take a beating, your teeth use them at night Grinding your teeth and would therefore not be the best solution. Typically, retainers are very thin because their job is to hold teeth in place, not protect them. Attempting to use a retainer as night protection eventually leads to cavities and uneven wear of the retainer for most people.

When I first developed bruxism, I was still wearing my braces. This was many years ago, before online companies like Pro Teeth Guard existed, and I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a night guard. I started wearing my retainers every night hoping they would protect my teeth and relax my jaw muscles. Although they offered some protection, I still woke up with a headache and a sore jaw, or sometimes a toothache, and my constant grinding was starting to wear down my retainer. The retainer quick fix did nothing to relieve my bruxism symptoms. When I started wearing a nighttime toothpaste every night, I realized how little my retainers were helping with tightening and grinding. The Night Guard did much better protection and cushioning, and I no longer wake up with a headache or a sore jaw, although I still clench my front teeth at night.

4. Can I use a night guard as a retainer?

Whether custom made or over the counter, most night guards don’t fit well enough to function as a mount. Usually, however, you only wear a night guard on your upper or lower teeth. So if you need a retainer on your upper and lower teeth, you may still need a retainer for teeth that don’t have night protection. If you have recently started wearing a retainer and also need overnight protection, your dentist or orthodontist may recommend continuing to wear the retainer during the day and for a few nights. Some retainer wearers may alternate night wear nights with retainer wear nights. But every grinder and appliance user has different needs, so talk to your dentist to decide how to balance your night protection and retainer use.

5. When do I need to use a retainer or night guard?

After you’ve used braces or another teeth-aligning method, your dentist or orthodontist will talk to you about your retainer options and what’s best for you. When you use your retainer it can vary greatly; Some retainers are permanently attached to teeth, while others only need to be worn at night. If you have a removable retainer, you may be able to use it more initially and slowly use it less over time.

Not surprisingly, night watchmen are deployed at night. You’ll know to start using a night shield when you notice the uncomfortable symptoms of bruxism (e.g., lower jaw pain or chipped teeth) or when your dentist notices the signs and says you should start using one use night protection. Once you know you have bruxism, it’s important to get a night attendant as soon as possible to relieve your symptoms and prevent damage to your teeth, such as chipping or breaking. Left untreated, teeth grinding and clenching can also damage the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and lead to temporomandibular joint disease.

6. How long do I have to wear a retainer or night guard?

In many cases, you can stop wearing your retainer once the bone and tissue around your teeth have stabilized. If you stop wearing your retainer too soon, you run the risk of your teeth moving back into place and you will then have to start all over with braces. If you currently wear a retainer but are considering using a night guard, consult your dentist or orthodontist to determine if you can no longer wear your retainer or if a night guard as a retainer may work for you. If it’s been more than a year since your braces were removed, you can probably stop. Some people wear their retainers on and off, even years after their braces have been removed, simply to make sure their teeth stay straight.


C. Can An Orthodontic Retainer Prevent Teeth Grinding?

If you grind your teeth, a condition also known as bruxism, your dentist may have recommended wearing a mouthguard at night. However, many people who have done orthodontic work have to wear their retainers at night as well – orthodontists now recommend that their patients wear their retainers every night for life to prevent tooth displacement. Can your orthodontic retainer prevent teeth grinding or do you still need to wear a custom mouthguard? See why you shouldn’t rely on your retainer to protect your teeth from bruxism.

1. Orthodontic retainers do not offer the same level of protection as a mouthguard

Orthodontic retainers are usually made of plastic and metal wire, or if you’ve had a clear aligner treatment like Invisalign, a clear plastic material. Your retainer is designed to keep your teeth straight once your orthodontic treatment is complete. While it offers trivial protection against teeth grinding, it doesn’t cushion and protect your teeth as fully as a custom-made mouthguard. Retainers also don’t affect muscle activity in your jaw, which means they won’t stop or prevent teeth grinding, and they won’t prevent your teeth from being damaged from bruxism.

2. Bruxism can really damage orthodontic retainers

Bruxism can damage teeth over time, leading to tooth displacement and even chipping and cracking that require professional treatment to correct. However, bruxism can also damage your orthodontic retainer, which means that you should not rely on this device to protect your teeth from teeth grinding. If you suffer from severe bruxism, you may need to repair or even replace your retainers, or the retainers may fit your mouth differently, which can be uncomfortable. Fixations are built to last, so protecting them and your teeth from bruxism is important!

3. How can you prevent teeth grinding with an orthodontic retainer?

While teeth grinding can be treated through a variety of techniques, depending on the cause of the problem, it’s important to get a custom-made mouthguard in the meantime. A customized mouth guard prevents further damage to your teeth and can even protect your retainer. Ideally, you wear your orthodontic retainer and custom mouthguard at night to protect your teeth. Then you and your dentist can create a treatment plan to stop your bruxism, including stress management, medication, or even posture exercises.

4. Don’t neglect your smile!

Wearing a retainer and mouthguard can help prevent teeth grinding, as a bad bite and misaligned teeth are also linked to bruxism. Remember never to trust your retainer to stop bruxism and always consult your dentist to protect your beautiful teeth for a lifetime!


D. The Do’s And Don’ts Of Caring For Your Retainer

Many of our patients here at Pembroke Dental Ballsbridge wear bite splints or splints. The main reasons for this are orthodontic treatments or bruxism, teeth grinding or clenching. Because your teeth often try to get back to where they were after orthodontic treatment is complete, most patients must wear retainers to prevent recurrence. Bonded braces are placed on the inside of your teeth after treatment, like the ‘pull splints’ your orthodontist may have placed when you were a teenager, or one of the temporary adult braces that we here at Pembroke Dental Ballsbridge offer as a six month Offer smileys, clear aligners, inman aligners or Clear Smile braces. Bonded retainers typically last about five years or more.

Retainers supplied by Pembroke Dental Ballsbridge are guaranteed for one year. So if the plastic retainer tears or the bonded retainer comes loose from a tooth, you can come to us to fix it.

  1. Hard bite splint
  2. Soft bite splint

Even if you’ve never used braces before, you may need to wear a splint or night guard to prevent grinding or clenching while you sleep, which can damage your teeth. Depending on how severe the bruxism is and how you find it most comfortable, you will receive a hard or soft bite splint. Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever! An Essix retainer typically lasts one to two years and a bonded retainer should last five years, but all retainers will eventually break or wear out. However, there are a few things you can do to get the most out of yours:

  1. Remember to store and care for your retainer properly. Don’t leave them where they can sit or stand, or even get crushed by a chair or car (it happened!) and remember to take them home with you when you’re on vacation. Many patients leave them in hotel rooms only to find they were kicked out by the cleaning staff when the room was cleaned after check out.
  2. Don’t submerge your retainer in boiling water, or expose it to heat or direct sunlight – it will warp and if it’s not in place it won’t work properly. Keep your retainer clean and odor free with appropriate products such as Retainer Brite (which we stock at Pembroke Dental Ballsbridge) and a toothbrush.
  3. A plastic holder can crack or chip, especially if you’re sanding. Go back to the dentist to see if it should be replaced or if you need a different type of retainer.
  4. Beware of the Dog! Jokes aside, Fido loves retainers and treats his the same way he treats his squeaky toys once he gets his paws in them. Dogs have been known to take rods from bedside tables and bury them in the garden, so be warned!

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