Open bite caused by night guard?
July 27, 2013 7:40 AM   Subscribe

Has anyone experienced a change in your bite after wearing night guard for grinding and did you have orthodontic treatment for it?

I wore a night guard at night for about 4 years and I noticed that my bite has changed. I now have an open bite so my front teeth don't touch, just my back teeth. This makes eating certain foods difficult. When I saw my dentist recently (a different dentist than the one that gave me the night guard), he recommended that I stop wearing the night guard and see an orthodontist. So I've stopped wearing the night guard and I've made an appointment with the orthodontist my dentist recommended. But I won't be able to get in to see the orthodontist for another month. I'm so mad at myself for not noticing the change to my bite sooner and am starting to freak out about whether I'll be able to fix my bite and the expenses required. I had braces as a child and had pretty good teeth and bite. Has anyone had any experience with treatment of an open bite caused by a night guard? Any chance my bite will "settle" to what it used to be?
posted by mbidi to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I wore a night guard for months in an attempt to deal with Sleep Apnea. After a while I noticed much the same thing - my bite was out of wack and I could not close my jaw without teeth bumping together that shouldn't.

I spoke to my dentist who poo-poohed the idea that my teeth had actually moved - he said I just needed to wait it out and sure enough a couple months after I stopped wearing the guard my jaw had gone back to normal. My guard was specifically intended to brace my jaw forward as a method of opening my airway so it's not really surprising it caused things to relocate. Yours might have a similar effect.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 8:04 AM on July 27, 2013

The same thing happened to me after wearing a guard, but much worse. When it didn't work after wearing it just at night, my dentist at the time advised me to wear it full time for a few months. This permanently changed my bite. I was open and only able to close on one side of my mouth. My open bite was so bad I had to have jaw surgery combined with braces to close it. It was a 3 year process.

Suffice it to say, I went through many docs and research to finally get it fixed. The consensus is that if you've been wearing a guard for up to a month and haven't noticed any improvements that it was supposed to give, you stop it immediately.

Keep in mind adult orthodontics take longer than adolescent and teenager, and if you want to close an open bite, you absolutely cannot get invisalign (any doc who tells you otherwise is just trying to agree with whatever you want for the money).

Don't mean to scare you, I've actually been told my case is unique and that on average, most guard damage is easily reversible.
posted by Telomeracer at 8:22 AM on July 27, 2013

I wore a mouth guard off and on for years in college and did notice a change in my bite, but it went away after I stopped using it.
posted by timpanogos at 9:13 AM on July 27, 2013

I depends. I have a hard plastic guard and I've worn it for nearly 20 years (not the original one).

I find that it works as a retainer and keeps my bite perfect. I've had a slight shift in my bottom teeth, but I don't wear a guard there, only on my top teeth.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:33 AM on July 27, 2013

I noticed this too, but it is a result of my tooth grinding. My bite changed as the tooth grinding got worse and worse, and the dentist had done a little grinding to fix it. Then, when I started wearing a guard, my teeth started to shift back where they belong.

But I would say that if the change is so much to make your bite not work properly, you probably have some poorly fitted bite guards.
posted by gjc at 12:15 PM on July 27, 2013

What kind of guard do you have? I have a silicone-type lower guard that I like but doesn't completely solve my TMJ/bruxism. My new dentist said I should consider an NTI but that he'd have to monitor me carefully because it can mess up bite.
posted by radioamy at 1:31 PM on July 27, 2013

If it turns out that your bite was mis-aligned and you end up still needing a night guard but not wanting to have a bad bite, I can offer the suggestion to get your night guard done in the shape of the ideal bite.

For me, I took in my retainer (from when I had braces as a child--yes, I kept it and wore it continuously!) and had them make the guard off that. It preserved an aligned and proper bite. I've been wearing a night guard for five years or so now and I haven't had a dentist report any issues with my bite (I've had multiple dentists over this time period, including some I quite liked).

Some people need a night guard, as going without will cause long-term TMJ issues. If that's you, I wanted to offer a way that might help you have your cake (night guard) and eat it too (keep your bite).
posted by librarylis at 9:18 PM on July 27, 2013

Does your guard cover all or some of your teeth? I wore a full lower guard for 5 years, a lower NTI (just covers a few front teeth) for a year, and have been wearing a full lower guard again for the past 2 years. The NTI was recommended by a new dentist who said it would be more effective in reducing the frequency of headaches, which were a problem for me at the time, as well as considerably less expensive.

He did not mention, nor did I research, what was said above, which is that the NIT can cause your bite to shift. It is less durable that the full guard, and I ground on it so hard that it broke. It wasn't until months later that I realized the shift in my bite to an open bite was almost certainly caused by the NTI. It's no longer obvious that I wore braces for several years as a kid, and when I had a consultation with an orthodontist, he was horrified and referred me to an orthognathic (jaw) surgeon. In the end, the diagnosis was that any surgery would be considered elective and therefore cost me thousands of dollars out of pocket, plus I'd need braces again. So, no surgery and I still feel terribly self-conscious about my bite, as well as shame about how the open bite is my fault for not properly researching my options. No improvements in my bite since switching back to the full lower guard, but it hasn't gotten worse, either.
posted by casualinference at 10:11 AM on July 28, 2013

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