Night Guards and Retainers: Revealing the Key Differences
Oral Health Blog

Night Guards and Retainers: Revealing the Key Differences


Night guards and retainers are both oral devices, and sometimes people wonder if they are the same. In this article, we will clarify the distinctions between night guards and retainers, explore insurance coverage for night guard retainers, and discuss whether a night guard can replace a retainer.

Is a Night Guard the Same as a Retainer?

Night guards and retainers serve different functions, and they are not the same.

Points to consider:

  • Retainers are primarily used to maintain the alignment of your teeth after orthodontic treatment.
  • Night guards, on the other hand, are designed to protect against teeth grinding or clenching, preventing potential damage.

Are Night Guard Retainers Covered by Insurance?

Insurance coverage for night guard retainers can vary depending on your dental plan and the specific reasons for using them.

Points to consider:

  • Some dental insurance plans may provide partial coverage for night guards if they are deemed medically necessary to prevent teeth grinding.
  • Coverage may depend on factors such as your diagnosis, the recommendation of your dentist or orthodontist, and the terms of your insurance policy.
  • Check with your insurance provider to understand the extent of coverage for night guard retainers.

Can a Night Guard Replace a Retainer?

A night guard is not intended to replace a retainer, and the two serve distinct purposes.

Points to consider:

  • A retainer is used to keep your teeth aligned after orthodontic treatment, while a night guard primarily addresses teeth grinding or clenching issues.
  • Using a night guard as a retainer replacement may lead to misalignment and orthodontic issues.
  • Consult with your orthodontist to ensure you are using the appropriate device for your specific dental needs.

What Is the Difference Between a Clear Retainer and a Night Guard?

Clear retainers and night guards have different designs and functions.

Points to consider:

  • Clear retainers, like Invisalign retainers, are designed to maintain the alignment of your teeth and are typically made of transparent plastic.
  • Night guards are bulkier and are intended to provide protection against teeth grinding or clenching. They are usually made of a more durable material.
  • The clear retainer's purpose is to keep your teeth in place, while the night guard aims to prevent damage from bruxism (teeth grinding).

What Can I Use Instead of a Night Guard?

If you're looking for alternatives to a night guard, there are several options available.

Points to consider:

  • Custom-made night guards, provided by a dentist, are the most effective solution for teeth grinding.
  • Over-the-counter night guards and boil-and-bite guards are affordable alternatives but may not be as comfortable or effective.
  • Relaxation techniques, stress reduction, and lifestyle changes may help alleviate teeth grinding for some individuals.


Night guards and retainers are not the same; they serve distinct purposes in oral care. While night guards protect against teeth grinding and clenching, retainers maintain the alignment of your teeth. Insurance coverage for night guard retainers may vary depending on your dental plan and specific needs. A night guard should not be used as a replacement for a retainer, as it may lead to orthodontic issues. Clear retainers and night guards differ in design and function, with clear retainers keeping teeth aligned and night guards preventing damage from teeth grinding. If you are seeking an alternative to a night guard, consult with a dentist or orthodontist to explore custom-made options or lifestyle changes to address teeth grinding.

Are you currently using or thinking about using retainer cleaning tablets? It's important to be aware that certain cleaner brands have the potential to cause toxic reactions.

It's crucial to be aware of harmful ingredients hiding in common cleaner brands. One such persulfate, which can pose SERIOUS health risks and is found in almost all leading retainer cleaners brands. Moreover, persulfate's health risks potentially impact respiratory health and skin sensitivities in your family, especially in teens and sensitive individuals. Learn more about the risk of persulfate HERE.



The content in this article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with a healthcare provider before making any changes to your health regimen. The author and publisher do not take responsibility for any consequences resulting from the information provided in this article.