Do your teeth hurt after wearing a night guard? This might seem relatively counterproductive since your TMJ mouth guard should actually help your teeth stop hurting. So why are your teeth and gums sore when you wake up?
The fact is that sometimes mouth guards can make things worse than they already were. This is often the case with those that don't fit well, especially the one-size-fits-all types you can buy online.
You should also stop and ask yourself if it's pain that you experience — or discomfort. You might find that your night guard is a bit uncomfortable during the first few weeks of wear, but that's just because it will take a few weeks to get used to anything new in your mouth.
In this article, we'll talk about why your mouth guard hurts and what you can do to resolve your problems, as well as:
- Tips for sleeping with a mouth guard
- Dental night guard side effects
- Why do your teeth feel weird after wearing a night guard?
- Best night guards for safe wear
We hope this information helps you safely and comfortably protect your teeth from the consequences of teeth grinding and jaw clenching.
Table of contents
Dental night guard side effects
There are some possible side effects when you use a night guard. These include anything from minor discomfort to persistent pain or pressure. Let's have a closer look at these two main night guard side effects, including what to do if it happens to you and if it's normal.
If your night guard causes some minor discomfort when you first start wearing it, don't worry, this is actually pretty normal. Think about it — if you've been sleeping without a night guard for most of your life, it's only natural that having something new in your mouth could be a bit uncomfortable or irritating until you get used to it.
If you've ever had braces, then you know that having a foreign device in your mouth can definitely feel a bit strange at first.
But, if you're willing to make it past the initial discomfort, you will likely find that soon you won't be comfortable sleeping without your mouth guard. That's because even though they feel awkward to wear at the start, mouth guards will protect against your teeth from grinding and jaw clenching.
Teeth grinding and clenching cause pain and soreness in your jaws, teeth, and gums, while you are doing it and also in the morning and throughout the day. You might even experience headaches from excessive jaw clenching while you sleep.
To be clear, we are talking about discomfort when you first start to wear your night guards. If what you are experiencing is actually pain, then it's time to speak with your dentist or get a night guard that fits better.
Pain, soreness, and pressure
We know that some minor discomfort when you start wearing your night guards is normal, but if your mouth guard hurts your gums, teeth, or jaw, this is a sign that something is wrong.
The pain could be caused by a poor fit, and if ignored, this could lead to your teeth shifting or even jaw misalignment. People who find their teeth hurt after wearing night guards often use mouth guards that you can purchase online, and that don't really custom fit your teeth.
These include boil-and-bite mouth guards, adjustable night guards, and one-size-fits-all types.
The best solution to this problem is to get a custom-made mouth guard from your dentist, which with the NHS is a band 3 treatment. If you want to spend less, you can get custom night guards from companies like Biite.
These orthodontist-quality night guards cost less than £100, and are made in a dental lab to fit your teeth perfectly.
Can a night guard shift your teeth?
Yes, a night guard that doesn't fit properly can shift your teeth. This can be detrimental to your oral health, worsening TMJ and causing problems with your bite due to jaw misalignment.
Jaw misalignment can make bruxism worse, which is totally counterproductive to why you are wearing a night guard in the first place. This is part of why mouth guards for children are usually worn just for sports – their teeth are still actively developing.
How to tell the difference between night guard pain vs discomfort
Only you know if your night guard is actually causing your teeth pain. Do your teeth hurt? Does your jaw hurt? These, along with a feeling of pressure, are indications that something is wrong and that you should stop using your mouth guard.
Discomfort just means that you aren't accustomed to having a mouth guard in your mouth but it doesn't actually cause pain or pressure.
Sleeping with a night guard
When you first begin to wear your night guard, sleeping might be difficult. It's a new object in your mouth and, like any other dental appliance, will take some getting used to. But if you stick with it, you'll likely soon find that you have more trouble sleeping without your mouth guard!
How to sleep with a mouth guard
- Practice breathing exercises: Whether you wear a night guard or not, breathing exercises are a great tip for falling asleep faster.
- Put your guard in last: Wait to put your mouth guard in until you've completed your entire bedtime routine. You'll think about it less because you don't have to wear it for anything other than sleeping.
- Be patient: Give it some time. Your mouth will adapt to wearing your mouth guard.
- Don't mistake pain for discomfort: Your night guard should not feel like the retainer that you wore after getting your braces off. Retainers apply pressure to keep teeth in position. Your night guard shouldn't apply any pressure to your teeth; it's simply there to protect them.
- Don't forget to keep it clean: You should rinse your night guard daily and do a deep clean monthly to avoid bacterial growth that could make you sick or cause discomfort.
Solutions for night guard pain
There are various things you can do if your teeth hurt after wearing a night guard:
- Switch upper or lower: If you have a night guard for your top teeth, you may want to try switching to your bottom teeth. But you should still only do this after you've tried out your night guard for a few weeks.
- Go thinner: Some companies and dentists allow you to choose a night guard made from thinner materials. You may need to replace your night guard more often, especially if your bruxism is quite severe, but a thinner guard will certainly be less bothersome while you sleep.
- Change materials: Night guards that are custom-made are either soft, dual-laminate or hard. Hard night guards may be too bulky for your comfort, so you should check to see if you can get a soft night guard instead.
When to call your dentist
If you got your night guard from your dentist, and it's causing you pain or pressure, call your dentist and let them know. They'll want you to come back in to be refitted.
If you bought your night guard online and it's a boil-and-bite or one-size-fits-all night guard and it's causing you pain, stop wearing it immediately. Go to your dentist to get a custom mouth guard from them, or order a custom-made night guard online.
Remember, your night guard should never hurt, but it is normal for it to be a little uncomfortable when you first start wearing it. It may take a couple of weeks for you to get used to wearing it, and to be able to sleep comfortably.
When you first start wearing your night guard, you might find that it's uncomfortable and maybe even difficult to sleep in. This is totally normal, as it takes time to get used to anything new in your mouth — think braces and retainers.
However, if your teeth hurt after wearing a night guard this may not be normal and you should stop wearing it immediately. You should not experience any pressure or pain from your mouth guard. If this happens, get a custom guard from your dentist or order a custom-made night guard online.
Furthermore, if you think that your teeth have shifted because of wearing an improperly fitting night guard, you should make an appointment with your dentist right away.
NHS. Treatment-Teeth grinding (bruxism). Consulted 28th June 2022.