Can Mouthguards Be Used As Retainers?

November 20, 2022 12:18 am
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Curly-haired Brown woman in a lavender t-shirt wonders about the difference between mouthguards and orthodontic retainers

If you have had orthodontic treatment and wear a retainer every night to preserve your alignment, you may be wondering if a mouthguard can stand in for your retainer.

Mouthguards vs. Retainers

Upon a quick glance, mouthguards and retainers can seem quite similar. They’re special oral appliances that fit over your teeth. But they serve different purposes.

An orthodontic retainer is made of clear, thin plastic or resin and metal. It is specifically molded to fit snugly around your teeth to hold them in place after they’ve been straightened.

Mouthguards are made to be quite thick since they work to protect your teeth from damage, either while you’re playing contact sports or during the night if you suffer from bruxism. This is a condition when you grind and clench your teeth as you sleep.

A clear retainer can act a bit like a nightguard, since it is a physical barrier between your teeth. However, its thin material can quickly wear out and become less effective at keeping your teeth in place. A mouthguard’s thicker material makes it more effective at protecting your teeth from damage but less effective at preventing shifting. For example, if you solely wear your nightguard for a long stretch of time, you may notice your teeth have slightly shifted and it can be uncomfortable to put your retainer on the next time.

If you need a mouthguard to protect your teeth from the grinding you do at night but you also need a retainer to keep your teeth in their straight positions after orthodontic treatment, you can’t wear them at the same time. Instead, consult with us about creating a schedule to alternate nights wearing each to maximize their unique benefits.

Consult with Our Team!

Do you have concerns about how to best preserve your smile’s health and appearance? Please contact Gregory B. Garrett, DDS, to set up an appointment at our office in Wilmington, NC. We would be delighted to hear from you.

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