Night guard is a dentist-recommended solution for bruxism, but can a night guard shift your teeth? Night guards are designed to protect your teeth from the effects of teeth grinding, jaw clenching, and TMJ. For best care, the oral appliance must be custom-fit, properly molded, and well-maintained. If a mouth guard is not designed well and doesn’t fit correctly, it can shift your teeth.
Can a Mouthguard Shift Your Teeth?
If a mouth guard is not custom-fit, it has the potential to shift your teeth. The type of night guard that you choose to protect your teeth makes a big difference. Although you are much less likely to experience tooth shifting from a custom-fit night guard, it is still possible if the guard is not fit correctly.
Over-the-counter one-size-fits-all generic mouth guards can potentially shift your teeth because they are not designed specifically for the anatomy of your mouth. Without a perfectly molded replica of your mouth, a mouth guard can slowly move your teeth over time. Additionally, over-the-counter mouthguards do not provide the same protection or durability as custom-fitted ones.
Another type of mouth guard that has the potential to shift your teeth is one that only covers your front teeth. This can alter the natural pressure you place on your teeth, causing them to shift. Certain appliances for TMJ such as the NTI night guard (also known as the SCI device) only cover the two front teeth to prevent them from coming into contact with the bottom teeth and relax jaw movements. The concern with this kind of dental appliance is that it “requires the mandible to pivot/rotate” (2008) which can result in an open bite.
Can a nightguard shift your teeth even if it is a custom-fit nightguard? According to Dr. Laura’s Orthodontics, high quality, custom-fit night guards are the best option to avoid teeth shifting. In fact, night guards and retainers are often recommended to patients who have had treatments to correct misalignment, because they hold the teeth in proper alignment and prevent them from shifting.
A 2018 study notes that any kind of oral appliance has the potential to shift teeth so it is important to closely monitor your teeth when using a mouth guard. The study explains, “Patient follow-up is essential to monitor the use and effects of night guards” (Bereznicki et al 2018). Based on these findings, it’s important to follow up with your dentist after receiving a new night guard — regardless of the type of night guard you use.
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How to Prevent a Night Guard from Shifting Your Teeth
Thankfully, night guards don’t always shift your teeth. If you use the correct type of night guard, your teeth will likely stay in place and will be protected from the effects of bruxism and TMJ.
A custom-fitted night guard from an online retailer or dentist should not shift your teeth. This is because these mouth guards are designed to fit correctly to the specific features of your mouth. With a perfect mold, you should not see any changes to your teeth position or your bite.
Custom-fit dental night guards are also made from durable acrylics and materials that protect your teeth better than over-the-counter night guards. While they might be a bit more expensive than over-the-counter night guards, they provide better protection and last longer.
Sometimes, an old or ill-fitting custom night guard may cause problems for your mouth and overall oral health. If you have a mouth guard that does not fit correctly, it’s important to have it replaced. Here are some ways you can tell if a mouth guard does not fit correctly:
- The mouth guard causes you pain
- The mouth guard causes you to gag
- The mouth guard falls out or you need to clench your teeth to keep it on
- You need to force the mouth guard on
- You feel excess pressure on your upper and lower teeth or gums
- Your teeth feel sore after wearing your mouth guard
- You notice cuts or sores on your cheeks or gums
- There is a hole in the mouth guard
If you experience any of these above signs of an ill-fitting night guard, be sure to contact your dentist or purchase a new custom-fit night guard from an online retailer as soon as possible. Taking care of the problem quickly will reduce the chances of your teeth shifting due to your night guard.
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What to Do If a Mouth Guard Shifts Your Teeth
Finding out your teeth shifted due to a mouth guard is scary and frustrating. If this has happened to you, the first thing you should do is visit your dentist right away. It may feel tempting to stop using your night guard if it’s making your teeth shift, but it’s important to continue to use a night guard if you grind or clench your teeth to protect yourself from further damage.
Continually using a night guard can prevent you from needing more invasive interventions, such as surgery or reconstructive dentistry (Leib 1996).
The biggest indication that your teeth have shifted is when your top and bottom teeth don’t fit together the way they used to. It’s also possible to notice shifting teeth by looking in the mirror.
Even if you don’t notice any of these telltale signs of shifting teeth, you should still visit a dental professional if you experience:
- Upper or lower jaw pain
- Facial pain
- Any other negative side effects you believe to be caused by your night guard
Your dentist will be able to fully evaluate your situation and make a recommendation. He or she may recommend replacing your custom night guard for a better fit. A dental professional may also check for signs of temporomandibular joint disorder, which would require a different kind of splint for treatment.
If your teeth have shifted severely or your bite has changed, you may need to visit an orthodontist to discuss options to realign your teeth.
Find a Properly-Fitted Mouth Guard
The ultimate prevention of shifting teeth is to use a high-quality custom-fit night guard. An over-the-counter night guard does not provide proper protection, and it may even cause negative side effects such as shifting teeth. If you find yourself experiencing signs that your night guard does not fit correctly, visit your dentist and purchase a custom-fit night guard.
At Pro Teeth Guard, you can get a custom-fit mouthguard at an affordable price. We make our night guards in a professional dental lab, and every night guard is guaranteed to fit comfortably with our 110% money-back guarantee. We’ll work with you to make sure your night guard fits perfectly.
- Bereznicki, T., Barry, E., & Wilson, N. (2018). Unintended changes to the occlusion following the provision of night guards. British dental journal, 225(8), 715–722. https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.bdj.2018.869
- Dr. Laura's Orthodontics Writing Staff. (2017). An orthodontist explains the benefits of night guards and retainers. Dr. Laura's Orthodontics. https://drlaurasortho.com/blog/orthodontist-explains-benefits-night-guards-retainers/
- Leib A. M. (1996). The occlusal bite splint--a noninvasive therapy for occlusal habits and temporomandibular disorders. Compendium of continuing education in dentistry (Jamesburg, N.J. : 1995), 17(11), .
- NTI-TSS, Inc. Technical Services. (2008). Nociceptive Trigeminal Inhibition Tension Suppression System: User Guide. Retrieved from http://www.chairsidesplint.com/docs/NTI_UsersGuide.pdf