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Is a retainer the same as a nightguard?

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Retainers are primarily used to prevent teeth from shifting after orthodontic braces, night guards are used to protect teeth from grinding at night.

But, some dental companies make acrylic 1mm, 2mm, or 3mm guards that can be used as both a retainer and night guard to prevent teeth grinding and clenching.

A custom night guard can be made at Teeth Night Guard Lab, which features various style options to help it work with even the most unique smile. Retainers are worn during the day, but you still need to protect your teeth at night. So is a retainer the same as a night guard? Not exactly.

Learn more about the differences between retainers and night guards to determine which one is right for you!

The anatomy of a tooth.

A tooth comprises three parts: enamel, dentin, and cementum. Enamel is the hardest substance in your mouth; dentin is living tissue that surrounds each root canal with a mineralized matrix called cementum, which fills in any empty spaces around the roots of your teeth. Then of course, your teeth grow in. Some people find that they involuntarily grind their teeth at night.

Night guards are used primarily for teeth grinding or bruxism. To prevent clenching or other movements of your jaw during sleep that may lead to problems over time (jaw pain or headaches). A night guard can be custom-made by professionals to protect your teeth while you sleep.

The main difference between a retainer and a night guard.

Retainers are orthodontic appliances that are only put on when braces are removed. The retainer’s purpose is to move teeth back into place if they have shifted during treatment. The chewing surfaces are then covered with metal caps, which protect against eating solids. It is often advised that a patient wear a retainer 24 hours per day, but most people find this to be uncomfortable. However, some orthodontists advise that it should be taken out before bed for better muscle relaxation while sleeping.

A night guard is usually only worn while sleeping because its sole purpose is to protect teeth from grinding and clenching while sleeping. A good dental company will always give you the option of having a custom-made night guard. The process is also fairly simple, they ship a bite impression kit to you, you complete the kit and send it back- so fast and easy.

The key characteristics that differentiate retainers from night guards.

Retainers are different from night guards because they are custom-made to fit your teeth. On the other hand, night guards are typically pre-formed with many sets of multiple sizes to fit most mouths.

Remember that retainers are part of your dental treatment, but night guards aren’t. They’re optional  and primarily made for teeth grinding, which many people experience without knowing that it is affecting their teeth enamel (or, even worse, causing problems such as jaw pain or headaches).

By wearing a custom night guard at night, you can alleviate these common problems to maintain healthy teeth.

Common applications for retainers.

Different people use different types of retainers for various reasons. Generally, there are two primary uses: one is correcting dental problems such as crowded teeth or spaces between teeth that have not been cared for properly. The second is wearing over a bridge to prevent slipping or if your permanent teeth do not fit together tightly enough.

Athletes can also use retainers to protect their mouths from injury while playing sports. Since retainers must be worn often at night and irritate some people’s gums, they are sometimes referred to as night guards.

Reasons to get a retainer.

A retainer can often be customized to fit your teeth, mouth, or bite. It will stay in place because it is attached to your jaw, keeping your teeth in their original positions while they heal. A retainer also allows you to eat anything you want while wearing it.

Custom night guards are more restrictive, meaning they cannot be used as a substitute for brushing or flossing as retainers can. Your dentist might recommend that you use both, depending on the type of injury you have sustained. They cost about the same amount, so consider this when determining which one best fits your needs.

Some common misuses of retainers and night guards.

Dental retainers are often misused. While it is true that some people use dental retainers as sleep aids, this is not their intended purpose. A retainer should be used to keep teeth in their original position following orthodontic treatment.

It can also be used to correct slight overbites or underbites. Dental night guards, on the other hand, protect teeth from night-time grinding by distributing pressure across all of your molars evenly. A night guard should not be worn if you have TMJ issues, however, because it will exacerbate the problem.

Choosing between retainers and night guards.

Choosing between retainers and night guards can be confusing, but knowing what each can do for you is important. The benefits of retaining are that they can prevent teeth from shifting out of place due to eating or playing sports, and having to get braces all over again.

Night guards are mainly used to treat bruxism (teeth grinding), also known as a nocturnal grinding syndrome. When your teeth grind together during the night, it causes damage to your gums and tooth enamel. A night guard can relieve this painful condition by blocking your upper and lower jaws so you cannot grind them together during sleep.

Some people find wearing a retainer at night to be uncomfortable. But, night guards can be custom made to fit your teeth comfortably for a good night’s sleep. For these reasons, many dentists recommend using both retainer and night guard simultaneously for optimum results.


Many confuse retainers with night guards, but they’re not quite the same. Like a retainer, a night guard can keep your teeth in place while you sleep. The main difference is that retainers are only worn during the day, while night guards are typically worn at night. As always, consult your dentist if you have any questions or concerns.

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