If you grind your teeth, a condition also known as bruxism, your dentist may have recommended that you wear a mouthguard at night.
However, many people who have had orthodontic work done need to wear their retainers nightly as well—orthodontists now recommend that their patients wear their retainers nightly for life to prevent teeth shifting.
Can your orthodontic retainer prevent teeth grinding, or do you still need to wear a custom mouthguard? Here’s why you shouldn’t rely on your retainer to protect your teeth from bruxism.
Orthodontic Retainers Do Not Provide the Same Protection as a Mouthguard
Orthodontic retainers are typically made out of plastic and metal wire, or, if you’ve had a clear aligner treatment such as Invisalign, a clear plastic material.
Your retainer is designed to keep your teeth in alignment after you finish your orthodontic treatment. While it may provide an trivial amount of protection against teeth grinding, it won’t cushion and fully protect your teeth in the same way that a custom mouthguard will.
Retainers also don’t affect the muscle activity in your jaw, meaning that they won’t prevent or stop your teeth grinding from happening, and won’t prevent your teeth from being damaged as a result of bruxism .
Bruxism Can Actually Damage Orthodontic Retainers
Bruxism can damage your teeth over time, leading to teeth shifting and even chips and cracks that will require professional treatment to fix. However, bruxism can also damage your orthodontic retainer, meaning you shouldn’t rely on this device to protect your teeth from teeth grinding.
If you have severe bruxism, you may need to get your retainers repaired or even replaced, or it can lead your retainers to fit differently in your mouth, which can be uncomfortable. Retainers are designed to last, so keeping them as well as your teeth protected from bruxism is important!
How Can You Prevent Teeth Grinding With an Orthodontic Retainer?
While teeth grinding can be managed through a variety of techniques depending on what’s causing your issue, it’s important to get a custom mouthguard in the meantime. A custom mouthguard will prevent further damage to your teeth and can even protect your retainer .
Ideally, you would wear both your orthodontic retainer and your custom mouthguard at night to protect your teeth. Then, you and your dentist can design a treatment plan to help stop your bruxism, whether this includes stress management, medications, or even posture exercises.
Don’t Neglect Your Smile!
Wearing both your retainer and your mouthguard can help you prevent teeth grinding, as a poor bite and misaligned teeth have also been linked to bruxism. Remember to never rely on your retainer to stop bruxism, and always follow up with your oral healthcare professional to protect your beautiful teeth for life!