Retainer vs Mouthguard

Retainer vs mouthguard: What are they and why would you choose one over the other?

Dental Retainer

essix retainer

A retainer is commonly used after orthodontic treatment. Your teeth will want to return to their original position after treatment, and the retainer ensures your smile stays they way you want it. Wear your retainer as directed by your dentist. It can take 12 months for soft tissue to fully heal after treatment.


A dental mouthguard worn overnight, a night guard, is thicker than a dental retainer. The thicker (1.5mm) design is more durable to provide longer-lasting protection from the effects of grinding and clenching. The thickness also changes the relationship between the upper and lower jaws, which can relieve temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain.

dental mouthguard

Metatooth offers custom night guards in a hard acrylic material. Other styles may be soft and flexible, made from ethylene vinyl acetate. There are also hybrid designs, that make use of both materials.

Mouthguards made from a hard material will also act as a dental retainer.

Retainer vs mouthguard, which one did you choose? Tell us about it in the comments!


Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMD, TMJ). WebMD., n.p., Accessed 08 March 2020.

custom-night-guard mouthhealth

Cleaning Your Custom Night Guard

Cleaning your custom night guard is important, it requires regular cleaning to stay in top condition and prevent bacteria growth. Luckily, it’s easy and straightforward to do. Follow these simple instructions to keep your night guard (and mouth!) fresh and happy.

custom night guard

The Morning After

Do you brush your teeth in the morning? For the same reasons you brush your teeth, your night guard requires the same care. Use your toothbrush and toothpaste to clean your night guard as you would your own teeth. It’s best to store your night guard in a glass of cold tap water to prevent bacteria growth. Change the water daily.

For a deep clean, use a denture cleaning tablet such as Polident(r). Once a week is sufficient. Avoid using alcohol or mouthwash, this will damage your night guard and shorten it’s life!

On The Go

If you use a travel case, make sure it’s clean as well. Wash with hot water and soap. Rinse and dry well. Dry your night guard before storing in the travel case. Do not put a clean night guard in a dirty case!

Night Guard Checkup

Depending on the severity of your bruxism, your night guard might wear out. While it’s made from a durable material, teeth grinding and clenching will change the night guard’s shape or even create a hole. Better the night guard than your teeth! Check weekly for worn patches or cracks.

Bring your night guard with you to your regular dental checkup. Your dentist can provide a more thorough check of your night guard (and your teeth!) to assure you that all is well.

Do not wear a damaged night guard. Metatooth can replace your custom night guard from your initial impression. Contact us to find out how. Thanks for learning about cleaning your custom night guard. Any other tips? Tell us about it in the comments!


Material Safety for Nightguards

Material safety is an important concern for all consumer products. More so for one that you wear overnight. Metatooth’s custom night guard is made from material cleared by the FDA for use in medical devices. What’s your night guard made of?

material safety data sheet

Methyl Methacrylate (MMA)

MMA is irritating to the skin, eyes, and mucus membranes. The FDA has taken action to remove the use of MMA in nail care products.

Methyl methacrylate is used safely in many consumer products, in accordance with the EPA.

Exposure to methyl methacrylate is primarily occupational, through dermal and inhalation routes. Potentialfor exposure exists for employees of manufacturers of methyl methacrylate and its polymers, as well as doctors, nurses, dentists, and dental technicians.

The Methacrylate Producers Association, Inc provides information on this material. The majority of MMA is converted to polymers before being used in consumer products. Exposure to MMA from these products is unlikely.

If you have a sensitivity to MMA, then our custom night guard may not work for you.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) maintains a fact sheet on phthalates. The CDC has this to say about how people are exposed.

People are exposed to phthalates by eating and drinking foods that have been in contact with containers and products containing phthalates. To a lesser extent exposure can occur from breathing in air that contains phthalate vapors or dust contaminated with phthalate particles. Young children may have a greater risk of being exposed to phthalate particles in dust than adults because of their hand-to-mouth behaviors. Once phthalates enter a person’s body, they are converted into breakdown products (metabolites) that pass out quickly in urine.

The CDC provides a list of items containing phthalates.

  • vinyl flooring
  • adhesives
  • detergents
  • lubricating oils
  • automotive plastics
  • raincoats
  • soaps
  • shampoos
  • hair sprays
  • nail polishes
  • polyvinyl chloride plastics (plastic packaging film and sheets, garden hoses, inflatable toys, blood-storage containers, medical tubing, some children’s toys)

The health effects of low levels of exposure are unknown. More research is needed!

Our custom night guard does not contain phthalates.


Our custom night guard does not contain BPA.


Our custom night guard does not contain latex.

Additional material safety information is available from Metatooth on request. What are your material safety concerns? Post them in the comments!


Methyl methacrylate. Wikipedia., n.p., Accessed 28 February 2020.

Nail Care Products. FDA., 6 Mar 2018, Accessed 28 February 2020.

Methyl Methacrylate. EPA., n.p., Accessed 28 February 2020.

Global Product Safety Summary: Methyl Methacrylate. Methacrylate Producers Association, Inc.,  27 Nov 2019, Accessed 28 February 2020.

Phthalates Factsheet. CDC., 7 Apr 2017, Accessed 28 February 2020.

custom-night-guard mouthhealth

Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)

Teeth grinding effects 1  in 10 adults. It is even more prevalent in children, but declines with age. Bruxism (BRUK-siz-um) is the condition of grinding, gnashing, or clenching of your teeth. Sleep bruxism — night-time grinding — is most common, although awake bruxism does occur. Symptoms include jaw, ear, and head-aches. Teeth can also be damaged. Ask your dentist if you have signs of bruxism.

Stress and Anxiety

The causes of bruxism are not completely known. They may be physical, psychological or genetic. Stress and anxiety may induce awake bruxism. Sleep bruxism may be activity related to sleep arousals (awakenings from sleep apnea or snoring).

Reduce stress at bed-time by:

  1. try to relax in the hours before bedtime
  2. maintain a consistent soothing routine
  3. create a cool, comfortable, and dark sleep environment
  4. keep work-related items like computers out of the bedroom

Alcohol, Nicotine, and Caffeine

All of these drugs can interfere with normal sleep patterns which could result in an increase of bruxism. Other conditions like sleep apnea and snoring are also aggravated by these substances. Consider lifestyle changes that reduce or eliminate alcohol, nicotone, and caffeine for improvements in sleep patterns.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea and snoring are thought to contribute to sleep bruxism. Seek treatment for sleep apnea from your doctor or dentist. Night guard users have reported both increases and decreases in the incidents of snoring. More study is needed to better understand how devices like occlusal splints impact these medical conditions.

Occlusal Splint (Night Guard)

An occlusal splint is commonly used as a night guard for teeth protection. Splints do not stop the grinding, but they do protect the wearer’s teeth from damage. Splints can be purchased over-the-counter or through a dentist. Over-the-counter night guards are made by thermoforming or “boil and bite”. Many dentists offer a custom-made occlusal splint. This type is now available direct to the consumer.

occlusal splint

Do you have experience with a night guard? Tell us about it in the comments!


Blake, K. (2016, February 29). Teeth grinding: Causes, Symptoms and Diagnosis.

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2014, July 22). Bruxism (teeth grinding).

National Sleep Foundation. (n.d.). 3 Tips for Coping with Bruxism or Teeth Grinding.

custom-night-guard development

Night Guard Design

Night guard design is done! Read about my scanning experience here.

I am using FullContour, LLC for design services. Super easy interfaces, works well with STL files. I use “design approval” but I am not sure I would make any changes. 2mm occlusal, 1mm buccal/lingual. Shallow trim. Can’t wait to evaluate the fit!

What’s your night guard design preference? Tell me about it in the comments!


Sleeping Girl Domenico Fetti

10% of the population has sleep bruxism. Many find relief with a custom night guard. Get your own custom night guard for $130.

Sleeping Girl Domenicao Fetti
“Sleeping Girl” Domenico Fetti (c. 1589 – 1623)