Troubleshooting Common Problems With Your Night Guard

Troubleshooting Common Problems with Your Night Guard

Night guards are the go-to solution for bruxers. They’re an incredible way to reduce those grinding and clenching side effects quickly!

But when you’re having problems with your night guard, sometimes they cause more discomfort than the condition itself. The good news is that’s not supposed to happen, and if your oral appliance is uncomfortable or downright painful, chances are, there’s an easy fix.

It can take a little getting used to before wearing any appliance in your sleep is genuinely comfortable; just ask people in the retainer vs nightguard debate! 

Still, the benefits make it worth the adjustment period! In the meantime, use these tips to troubleshoot people’s most common problems with new night guards.

1. Your Teeth and Jaw Hurt

Increased teeth sensitivity and jaw pain are side effects of bruxing. When you clench your jaw and grind your teeth in your sleep without a guard, it wears down the enamel and overworks the jaw muscles. But using a night guard eliminates that discomfort, not worsens it.

It may not be the right fit if you still have teeth and jaw pain a few days after wearing your guard consistently. This is probably the situation if you use a boil-and-bite OTC guard instead of a custom-made appliance. Those one-size-fits-all devices don’t consider the unique shape of your bite, and they can cause more damage than they fix.

A custom-fit night guard is pricier than the OTC versions, but it’s worth the investment. You’ll feel and sleep better, and since they’re better quality, you won’t have to replace your guard as frequently.

2. Your Gums and Cheeks Hurt

Soft tissue soreness is another common complaint with new night guards. This problem is also traced back to an ill-fitting appliance.

Those quick-fix solutions also don’t work when the device has to slide over your teeth. If it’s too big or too tight, it will cut into your gums and other sensitive soft tissue. You’ll notice pressure, swollen or bleeding gums, and increased pain.

Before you give up on using the night guard, look into custom-fit appliances through your dentist or top-rated professional companies online.

3. Your Teeth Are Shifting

Your night guard is not a retainer or orthodontic device. It is not intended to shift your teeth. If the guard fits correctly, it will simply and comfortably keep your upper and lower arches from touching while you sleep.

But if your night guard doesn’t fit right, it can cause shifting by trying to force certain teeth to get into alignment with the device. This forced movement can make TMJ and bruxing symptoms worse. 

If you have serious facial pain, increased headaches or migraines, and neck and shoulder pain, your night guard might be trying to adjust your teeth. Don’t ignore the problem. Talk to your dentist or, if necessary, orthodontist to find out if your night guard needs to be replaced and refitted.

4. Your Jaw is Out of Alignment

Our jaw is possibly one of the most overworked and undervalued muscles in the body. We use it to talk, chew, eat, yawn, and more! It’s no wonder when your jaw is out of alignment, you can’t ignore the pain.

A misaligned jaw can be put back into place with a specific oral appliance. But your night guard should not be shifting your jaw out of whack. 

If you have an uneven fit in your oral appliance, it could misalign the top and bottom jaw. You may need to change to a softer or harder version of your night guard and make sure it’s designed especially for your mouth.

5. You Have an Infection in Your Mouth

The human mouth is full of bacteria and germs. Researchers estimate that over 700 species of microbes make their permanent homes in the mouth, including fungus and bacteria. So don’t worry if you have microorganisms invading, but don’t encourage them to stay there by adding more with a dirty night guard.

As you pull your guard out of your mouth in the morning, be sure to clean it with a toothbrush and warm water. Once a week or so, take a couple of minutes and give it a full cleaning with denture cleaners or an ultrasonic device.

If you have an infection, including a cold, sanitize your night guard daily. This way, the treatment you’re using to get rid of the germs is more effective.

Pro tip: Don’t use hot water to clean your appliance. It can distort the shape and cause the problems we noted in troubleshooting tips 1 -4.


Living with a night guard in your evening and morning routine will take some getting used to, but the difference you’ll feel after regular use should be incredibly freeing. When that’s not the case, use these tips to troubleshoot your night guard problem and get back to enjoying a discomfort-free quality of life!

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