What are night retainers, and can they straighten teeth?

dental retainer

Night retainers are the other removable orthodontic tool, also known as Essix or dental retainers, used for stabilizing teeth in their new position after removing the braces.

Like Invisalign Clear Bracesthey consist of clear synthetic covers that slide over the teeth (at night) to ensure that your teeth remain in their new position.

Below, we will learn more about these tools and their effectiveness.

What is the purpose of night retainers?

When you have completed your clear braces treatment and are satisfied with your new straight teeth, it is time to remove any attachments that stud on your teeth. However, this does not always imply that your treatment is complete.

After active orthodontic treatment, the retention phase begins, which involves using night retainers to stabilize the teeth and molars in their new position and prevent them from shifting back to their inherent place. They move due to jaw development, chewing power, tongue pressure, or teeth grinding & clenching. Wearing retainers helps keep them in place and maintains stunning and long-lasting results.

Typically, there are two main types of retainers: fixed retainers and removable ones (Essix). The fixed retainers consist of thin metal wires which are attached to the inner surface of the front teeth to hold teeth in place and keep them from moving. This method also has disadvantages:

  • The metal holds only four to six front teeth in place.
  • Cleaning the teeth behind and around wires is challenging.

metal dental retainer

The removable ones (Essix), on the other hand, consist of special clear plastic that a patient can simply put in or take out.

Due to all this, we suggest using Essix to keep all teeth in place.

How often should we use night retainers?

At least throughout the first year after your braces treatment is complete, you must wear night retainers every night. If you stop wearing them, your teeth will gradually shift back to their prior position.

You should wear retainers as long as it takes for the teeth to settle into their new position. Usually, teeth will constantly try to move back to some extent. Due to that, we recommend wearing retainers for a relatively long time.

We do not advise ceasing to use the retainers for several nights successively. If you stop wearing retainers for a couple of months, your teeth will slightly shift back to their inherent position. So if you decide to wear retainers again, you will feel a lot more tension in your mouth.

A custom-made night retainer

After your treatment is fully complete, we will take an impression of your teeth, so we can custom-make Essix that perfectly fits your teeth.

We recommend you follow our instructions and wear the retainers all night if you want a long-lasting, beautiful smile.

How do you clean night retainers?

Cleaning the Essix is a pretty simple task. All you need to do is wash them in cold water before putting them in and after pulling them out. It is also a good idea to clean your retainers with a toothbrush and dish soap once a week. Do not try to clean them with toothpaste or wash them with hot water since they may harm your retainers badly.

You can also clean your retainers with cleaning denture products like Polident for retainers if you like. Remember to keep them in their own boxes and never leave them lying around.

Lastly, wearing retainers routinely can help boost your confidence because it ensures that your teeth never move out of their new position and will remain straight and beautiful.

Can night retainers straighten out your teeth?

One of the questions that people ask us a million times is: ”Do nighttime retainers affect straightening the teeth like other orthodontic tools?”

The short response is no. The retainers can only keep your teeth in place and prevent them from shifting back. They cannot apply the required force to the teeth to change their position.

As mentioned above, after the completion of your treatment process, you must wear night retainers regularly. Otherwise, your teeth will shift back to their prior position, and consequently, your retainers will not securely fit your mouth and may cause pain and discomfort, particularly in your gums and jaw. In this case, be sure to make an appointment with your orthodontist.

What do night guards do, and why are they needed?

Night guards, also known as occlusal guards or nocturnal bite plates, are mouthguards used by patients who suffer from bruxism (teeth grinding and clenching). Night guard retainers are great tools to protect teeth from wear and damage.

Underlying bone damage and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder (a painful condition) are the typical results of constant grinding and clenching.

Night guards protect your teeth by relieving stress, distributing the bite forces, and preventing abnormal wear. They reduce the damage to teeth by offering a barrier between the upper and lower teeth.

Night guards can be made of hard or soft special plastics to cover the lower and upper teeth. Depending on how severe your bruxism is, you might need to use a night guard composed of more rigid plastic to provide superior protection, which might last longer.

night guard

How long should we wear night guards?

Unfortunately, there is no guaranteed treatment for teeth grinding. Some steps may help you alleviate the symptoms, but until now, there is no specific method that works for everyone. Because of this, you will need to wear your night guard as long as you have bruxism.

How long does a nightguard last?

A night guard might last between two to five years on average. Depending on your case severity and whether you are trying to stop it in other ways, these periods may vary. According to the complexity of your problem, your orthodontist can give you an estimate of time and other alternative options.

Custom-made vs. Over-the-Counter Night Guards

If you want to choose a night guard, you have a few options: over-the-counter and custom-made.   If you opt for a custom-made nightguard, your orthodontist will create the one with the best and highest-quality materials that perfectly fit your teeth.

The other option is to use an over-the-counter night guard that is available in different forms and is accessible in many stores and pharmacies. However, it is crucial to remember that if your guard does not fit your mouth well, you will feel more pain, particularly in your gums and jaw. Your orthodontist can help you choose the best and most economical solution.

How long does a nightguard last


Do night retainers prevent grinding, and can they be used as mouthguards?

There is no exact solution for grinding, and you cannot use a retainer for teeth grinding because the function and materials of retainers and mouthguards are different.

Moreover, retainers are usually thin, while the mouthguard is about 3mm to 6mm thick to maximize protection.

What stops bruxism?

If your grinding is due to stress, ask your orthodontist or doctor about options to lessen your stress and tension. Seeing a physical therapist, obtaining a prescription for muscle relaxants, starting an exercise program, attending stress counseling, and so on are some options that may help you reduce stress and, perhaps, stop grinding.

And Finally

For straightening your teeth, the only option is to see a professional one, like Dr. Mir at York Orthodontics, to ensure you the most beautiful, memorable, and long-lasting smile. Depending on your problem, we recommend the appropriate treatment that perfectly addresses your concerns.

So, why do you hesitate? Call our office or make an appointment online to enjoy the free consultation.