Will My Old Invisalign Aligners Help with Nighttime Grinding?

Man with mouth open for elgin invisalign blog

I finished Invisalign treatment about two years ago and still have some of the aligners even though I don’t “need” them anymore. However, I think I’ve been grinding at night. I wake up in the morning and my jaw is incredibly sore. My teeth all feel kind of achy. I’m catching myself doing a fair amount of clenching during the day as well… It’s just the stress of everything, I think… trying to adapt to working from home, homeschooling the kids, the crazy economy, social distancing… Probably like everyone else, I think it’s getting to me. I don’t usually have a problem with clenching or grinding, so I don’t have anything at home to use for this. But, since I do have some of my old Invisalign aligners, I wonder if those will do the trick. For what it’s worth, I did try my last set on and, although it’s a bit of a pinch, I can still get them on. Will this work for now or is there something else I can do?



Dear Damien,

They kind of look the same, don’t they? Both are typically made of clear plastic and are molded to match the shape of your teeth. It’s easy to think they work the same, too, but aligners and nightguards are totally different in their function and, thus, are made a bit differently too.

Invisalign Aligners are Made to Push Your Teeth into Place

If you think of it this way, it might help. Your aligners worked because they pushed on your teeth. They gave them little nudges until they eventually made it to their ideal destinations. In order to do this, they have to be hard and inflexible. That’s how they make your teeth mobile.

Night Guards are Made to Cushion Your Teeth

Conversely, night guards are designed specifically for teeth grinding, which is also referred to as bruxism. They absorb the biting force and distribute it better. They provide jaw support too. Because of this, they do need to be firm, but they have more shock absorption properties than the aligners used for straightening teeth have.

Wearing Your Old Aligners Could Make Things Worse

If it was a pinch to get your old aligners on, they don’t fit right anymore. That means they’ll start to push your teeth into their ideal positions again. They’ll become at least mildly mobile. Take into consideration that you’re presently grinding and clenching all day, and you’d be doing that on teeth that are already mobile, it’s a recipe for disaster. The aligners aren’t a good solution and they could make the problems worse.

Get Recommendations from Your Dentist

There are night guards you can purchase from the local drug store or grocery. They aren’t as good as the ones your dentist can make for you, as the fit won’t be perfect and the materials aren’t quite the same. However, something like that could potentially work for you for a short period of time. Equally, this may be something you want to bring to your dentist’s attention. Based on your symptoms, this may not be a dental emergency that requires immediate care, but he’ll be able to go over what you’re experiencing in greater detail and help you find the best solution.

This blog is sponsored by Dr. Steve Sirin, an Elgin Invisalign dentist.

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