If you’ve ever worn a night guard to sleep then you’ve felt how tightly they are supposed fit to prevent your teeth from grinding against each other. They also have to fit snug so that they don’t fall off as we toss, turn, and do whatever it is we do unconsciously while sleeping. However, some people feel like perhaps their night guard is fitting too tightly, or that there is an unusual amount of pressure on some of their teeth.
You might wake up feeling instead of your jaw being sore from clenching so hard, that that soreness has shifted over to your teeth due to pressure from the night guard. Naturally, you may then ask the question, “Can a night guard shift your teeth?” And the answer is: yes, but normally it shouldn’t.
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Can A Night Guard Shift Your Teeth?
Orthodontic Devices or Invisalign
Those of us who have worn braces or know people who wear braces should be well aware that teeth are pliable. A constant force exerted on our teeth will cause them to shift over time. If this were not true, then braces wouldn’t work! On the other hand, people who have straightened their teeth with braces and stopped wearing their retainer found that their teeth shifted back to their original positions.
If you are wearing Invisalign or other such orthodontic devices, then this is no cause for concern because you are trying to shift your crooked teeth to be straighter. Just make sure to wear your retainer at night or else you will undo years of corrective straightening.
Store Bought and Custom Night Guards
For those wearing a boil-and-bite mouth guard or a custom night guard, teeth shifting is a cause for concern as you are trying to reduce your bruxism or sleep apnea. Most likely, the tight feeling you are experiencing is just a snug fit which is ideal because your night guard will remain in your mouth to protect your teeth from grinding.
Furthermore, the interior of modern night guards is made from a gel like material that is rigid on the outside, but pliable where it contacts against your teeth. If you have worn your night guard for less than two weeks, then there is simply an adjustment period that you have to go through. You will naturally feel uncomfortable with having a piece of plastic in your mouth, and the sore teeth that it causes will eventually subside as you get used to wearing a night guard to sleep. However, if you have been wearing your night guard for longer than a week and you still feel extreme pressure or tooth soreness, then something may be wrong.
In extreme cases, people have reported that their entire jaw has shifted forward. This means that not only are their teeth now misaligned, but their bite changed to an open bite. An open bite is when the upper and lower incisors (front teeth) no longer touch and only their molars (back teeth) do. However, most people report that their teeth do not shift at all, and those that experienced shifting mention their teeth reverts to normal if they stop wearing the night guard.
Adjusting Your Night Guard
In the case of custom night guards, you have to pay a visit to your dentist or ship it back to the company you ordered your guard from and have them adjust it for you.
For boil-and-bite mouth guards, you can re-boil your night guard and make a better imprint of your teeth into the soft plastic. You should not do this too much, as the material will get spread too thin and become less effective. You may have to purchase a new night guard for the best results.
Will my teeth shift back if I stop wearing my night guard?
Again, your teeth generally should not shift if your night guard fits you properly. Some people have reported that their jaw and teeth have shifted forward slightly, but returned to their normal position once they stopped wearing the night guard. Others have reported that their teeth shifted as a result of their teeth grinding, and that wearing a night guard shifted their teeth to their original positions.
Mentioned above, in extreme cases of prolonged misuse, people have shifted their entire jaw forward and badly misaligned their teeth. Users have reported that they had to undergo jaw surgery and wear braces again, taking as long as 3 years to correct their misaligned jaw and teeth.
So, can a night guard shift your teeth? The answer is yes, but how much varies from person to person, and most of the time it is harmless but in extreme cases can be quite detrimental. If you’ve worn your night guard for over a month and have not noticed any of the benefits of a night guard, on top of that you still experience tooth and jaw aches, then stop wearing it immediately.