Can You Wear a Mouthguard with a Retainer?

When it comes to the teeth and general oral hygiene, along with things like brushing regularly, flossing, and using mouthwash, is there anything else we can do to keep our teeth looking healthy, but more importantly, actually being healthy too? It turns out that, yes, there is.

People with misaligned teeth and people that suffer from bruxism (grinding of the teeth) may find that devices such as mouthguards and retainers can work wonders in terms of preventing grinding of the teeth, protecting the teeth, and helping to keep them straight and aligned.

Mouthguards and retainers are similar, but they of course provide different benefits and work in different ways. But what are the differences between the two and can you wear a mouthguard with a retainer? Well, let’s find out.

What is a mouthguard?

A mouthguard is a dental device that is designed to be worn in the mouth to cover the teeth and protect them.

As well as protecting the teeth, mouthguards can also be used to protect the cheeks, tongue, and gums from trauma, often during physical activity such as a sport. There are also nightguards which are a type of mouthguard designed to be worn at night to protect the teeth from clenching of the jaw and bruxism (grinding).

While mouthguards either protect the teeth from trauma during sport, or from bruxism and clenching of the jaw as you sleep, you can purchase different types of mouthguard with each one offering its own unique advantages and possible drawbacks. These include:

Boil and bite mouthguards

A boil and bite mouthguard is a cheap and basic mouthguard that is designed to be placed in hot water to soften the plastic material.

Once soft, you then place it into your mouth and over your teeth where it will harden as it cools and mould itself around the shape of your teeth.

Stock mouthguards

Stock mouthguards are the cheapest and most basic mouthguard out there. These are designed to be purchased and used right away, with no boiling, no moulding, and no custom fitting.

Custom mouthguards

Finally, we have custom mouthguards.

Custom mouthguards are the most expensive, and almost certainly the best mouthguards out there. These are made by your dentist who will take an impression of your upper and lower jaw and teeth and have a mouthguard custom made in a lab.

The mould of the mouthguard is identical to your teeth and so the fit will be perfect, both in terms of comfort and also of protection.

What is a retainer?

A retainer, not to be confused with a mouthguard, is another dental device designed to be worn in the mouth, this time to help keep the teeth aligned.

More often than not, people will use a retainer after having Invisalign treatment or wearing braces to straighten and align the teeth in the first place.

It should be noted that retainers are not designed to serve the same purpose as braces or Invisalign, they are simply designed to help ensure the teeth remain straight and aligned after straightening treatment.

Typically made from plastic, or metal, retainers can be removable or permanent. Permanent retainers are made from a thin wire which is bonded to the teeth on the tongue side of the upper or lower jawline.

Is a retainer the same as a mouthguard?

As we’re asking can you wear a mouthguard with a retainer, you can probably guess that these two devices are different.

A retainer is NOT the same as a mouthguard. A permanent retainer for example, is bonded to the teeth and, as the name implies, is fixed permanently in place to help keep them straight and aligned, rather than to protect them.

A mouthguard is a removable contraption designed to protect the teeth rather than keep them straight.

Can you wear a mouthguard with a retainer?


If you speak to your orthodontist, they may very well recommend the use of a retainer and a mouthguard, but not at the same time.

Usually when a dentist recommends the use of both, they will recommend the patient wear them on alternating schedules, so one day you may wear a retainer, and the next a mouthguard, and so on.

A night guard however, is typically tougher than a regular mouthguard and can therefore be worn every night to help protect the teeth.

Will a retainer work as a night guard?

While these devices may look similar and provide similar benefits, a retainer will never replace a night guard because the two are very different devices. If they weren’t, there would be no need for night guards as people would just wear retainers all the time.

Retainers are not as thick as night guards and so they therefore can’t withstand the pressure caused by bruxism/clenching of the jaw meaning that they won’t provide adequate protection for the teeth.

Book your appointment today!

If you’re concerned about misaligned teeth, grinding of the teeth, damage to the teeth, or any other potential dental issues, pick up your phone and book your appointment with us today.

Here at Tuart Hill Dental we have years of experience when it comes to mouthguards, retainers, and much more besides. No matter what your dental issues may be, we can almost certainly put you right and have your teeth looking and being healthier than ever.

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