A night guard was supposed to stop my teeth from hurting. So why do my teeth hurt after wearing a night guard when I wake up in the morning? I thought a night guard was supposed to fix my tooth grinding problems, not add to my teeth grinding side effects.
If you find yourself asking questions and muttering statements like these after getting a night guard, there may be a problem with your night guard. Possible causes for teeth pain after getting a night guard include shifting teeth or jaw misalignment, causing pain and soreness in your teeth and jaw muscles.
Before you run to the dentist or order a new night guard, make sure you’re experiencing pain rather than discomfort. Many teeth grinders find it only takes a few weeks to get acclimated to their mouthguard, but those weeks can be uncomfortable. In this article, you’ll learn more about how to distinguish between pain and discomfort. If you have pain from wearing your night guard, we’ll also discuss ways to resolve it.
Possible Causes For Night Guard Pain
Pain related to a night guard can have a few different causes, and the most common one is poor fit. When a night guard fits properly, it should feel snug and secure, fully covering the occlusal surface (bite surface) of each tooth on either the upper or lower jaw. When this doesn’t happen, you have one of the main causes of night guard-related tooth pain: poor fit.
An ill-fitting night guard can often cause pain for one of two reasons:
- Shifting Teeth: Because a custom-fit night guard is designed from a mold of your teeth, it’s not likely to have such a poor fit that it shifts your teeth. However, it is possible. When you put your night guard on, it should feel like a nice, secure fit. If it feels like you need to use force to get it on your teeth, that could be a sign the night guard is causing your teeth to shift.
A night guard could also shift your teeth if it’s over-the-counter rather than custom made. Because over-the-counter night guards are one-size-fits-all, they might not fit your teeth properly, causing them to shift. This is especially the case when a night guard only covers the front teeth or back teeth. In this case, it can create uneven pressure during clenching and grinding, which causes your teeth to shift.
- Jaw Misalignment: A night guard that fits poorly can also lead to jaw misalignment. Again, this is more likely to happen with an over-the-counter night guard. Be very cautious with poorly fitting night guards. An ill-fitting night guard can change the way you hold your jaw, it can lead to misalignment in your temporomandibular joint over time.
An over-the-counter night guard is the least expensive option, but clearly, it also is more likely to lead to pain. These mouthguards are designed to fit everybody, but if your mouth arches or your teeth are different from the “norm”, this type of night guard won’t fit you well. For example, you might have teeth that are larger than average, or your teeth might be crooked. This can make the night guard shift out of place or sit awkwardly on your teeth.
Poor fit with a custom-fit night guard is less likely but still possible. You might experience poor fit with a custom-fit mouthguard if something went wrong, like the impression kit was removed too soon. You might also experience poor fit with a custom night guard if you recently had dental work or if your night guard is old and starting to wear.
When you start wearing this dental night guard in your mouth every night, it’s bound to feel strange. If it simply feels awkward or a little out of place, you may need to take a few weeks to adjust.
A little bit of soreness can even be normal as long as it goes away as you adjust. For example, hard night guards can fit particularly tightly to your teeth, and if you’re not used to that pressure, it can cause your teeth to feel very sore at first. Sore teeth tend to be painful when you eat or brush your teeth, but this should not last for an extended period of time, and it should not get worse after the first few days.
Persistent soreness or acute pain, however, is a sign something is wrong and you should consider one of the solutions below.
Solutions For Night Guard Pain
Because a poor fit is usually the cause of night guard pain, finding a better fit will often solve the problem. No matter how you try to solve your night guard pain, talk to your dentist first to discuss your tooth pain’s possible causes and solutions.
Get a Custom Night Guard (or Have Yours Refitted)
People who experience pain while using an over-the-counter night guard often find relief when they switch to a custom-fit night guard. Those who already have a custom-fit night guard but still experience pain might need to take new impressions and get a new night guard. A small imperfection in the impressions or the manufacturing of the night guard itself could cause the device to fit poorly.
If you’ve worn your guard for some time, it’s also possible your teeth naturally shifted since you acquired your night guard or that the anatomy of your mouth is different due to dental work. In these cases, a refitted mouthguard can considerably reduce pain.
Try a Different Type of Night Guard
Regardless of the type of night guard you have, it isn’t the only option. Different types of night guards may cause pain simply due to the anatomy of your mouth or previous dental work. Finding the right kind that fits you well can often solve the problem. If you have an upper night guard, try switching to one on your lower teeth or vice versa. Different types of night guards include:
Although many people find soft night guards to be the most comfortable, that isn’t always the case. There are pros and cons to each type of night guard, and you might need to experiment to find which one gives you the sweet spot between comfort and protection. When you talk to your dentist, you might find a softer and/or thinner night guard best suits your teeth.
Having patience is easier said than done, but it might be all you need if your night guard is relatively new. Before you assume your night guard isn’t working or you need a different type, give it a few weeks. Your soreness or discomfort could go away as your mouth adjusts to your night guard. However, if you experience unusual pain, you should see your dentist.
Why Wearing a Night Guard Is Important
As frustrated as you likely are if you’re experiencing pain from your night guard, and as tempting as it might be to leave it in the medicine cabinet, it’s vital you keep wearing it. Your dentist likely prescribed a night guard for a good reason: to protect you from the harmful effects of clenching and grinding. Your bruxism can lead to jaw pain, TMJ, and tooth damage. A night guard protects against that damage.
An ill-fitting night guard can be damaging, but so can leaving your night guard on your nightstand every night. Rather than giving up on wearing your night guard completely, work with your dentist to find a solution.
Your night guard could cause you pain for a variety of reasons, but the cause often relates to poor fit. For people who have an over-the-counter night guard, switching to a custom-fit night guard could be the solution.
Whether your night guard causes only minor tooth pain or tooth pain so severe you can’t stand to wear the guard, discuss your oral health with your dentist. They’ll have more insight into your situation and can suggest the best solutions for you. If you wear a night guard and also have other related conditions such as sleep apnea or GERD, include your primary care provider in your night guard discussions as well.
Pro Teeth Guard offers custom-fit mouthguards online for an affordable price. Our night guards are made in a professional dental lab using professional materials and processes. This is effectively the mouthguard you’d receive from a dentist. If you and your dentist decide a new custom-fit night guard might be a good solution for you, Pro Teeth Guard is ready to help.