Am I a Candidate for Invisalign® if I Grind My Teeth?

If you’re one of the millions of people who clench or grind their teeth, technically called bruxism, you might be wondering if you’re a candidate for Invisalign. After all, won’t teeth grinding wear down your Invisalign aligners? And can the aligners protect your teeth from the effects of bruxism like a night guard can? As one of the few Diamond Plus Invisalign Providers in the Houston area, we’ve helped thousands of patients perfect their smiles with clear aligners and we’re sharing everything you need to know about Invisalign and teeth grinding. 

What Causes Teeth Grinding?

Bruxism is when you unconsciously grind or clench your teeth during the day (awake bruxism) or during the night when you’re sleeping (sleep bruxism). Why do people grind their teeth? According to the Cleveland Clinic, there are many causes of bruxism, and sleep bruxism may actually start as a type of sleep disturbance in the central nervous system.  Other causes and risk factors include:

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Heredity (people with bruxism often have a family history of teeth grinding)
  • Sleep disorders (i.e., sleep apnea, night terrors, etc.)
  • Different conditions, such as ADHD and acid reflux
  • Misaligned teeth
  • Allergies
  • Taking certain medications 
  • Lifestyle habits like smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, using recreational drugs and consuming large amounts of caffeine

While awake bruxism and occasional, mild bruxism don’t usually require treatment, chronic bruxism, particularly if you’re grinding your teeth in your sleep, should be treated, because it can cause potentially serious complications. It may lead to:

  • Excessive wear, cracking or chipping of the teeth
  • Toothaches, facial pain and/or jaw pain
  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders
  • Headaches
  • Earaches
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Pain when chewing
  • Loose teeth

Can I Get Invisalign if I Grind My Teeth?

Yes, you can get Invisalign if you grind your teeth. At Houston Orthodontic Specialists, Dr. Tabakman, Dr. Bloome and Dr. Mount are leading Houston and Bellaire Invisalign providers and have the expertise to treat even the most complex cases. In fact, thanks to our proficiency with the product and our in-depth digital treatment planning, nearly everyone is a candidate for Invisalign at our practice. 

For some people, Invisalign can actually help with teeth grinding. Since misaligned teeth are a potential cause of the condition, aligning the teeth often stops or reduces chronic bruxism. 

Additionally, Invisalign aligners are similar to the custom mouth guards for teeth grinding, called night guards, that are used to protect the teeth against the effects of bruxism. This means the aligners will offer some cushion between your upper and lower teeth and ward off damage.

Won’t teeth grinding wear down the Invisalign aligners? Teeth grinding can cause your aligners to wear down prematurely. However, since most of our patients change to a new set of aligners on a weekly basis, by the time the appliance begins to show signs of wear, you’re on to the next tray.

What About Invisalign and TMJ Disorder?

We’re sometimes asked about Invisalign and TMJ dysfunction, as well. Bruxism and TMJ disorders often go hand in hand. This is because chronic, severe grinding can damage the temporomandibular joints and put stress on the entire chewing system, leading to dysfunction and pain. 

For those whose tooth misalignment is at the root of their issues, Invisalign may help TMJ disorder. By aligning the teeth and jaw, your bite forces will be evenly distributed, alleviating discomfort and helping to reduce teeth grinding.

Since orthodontic treatment permanently changes the bite, however, certain patients with severe TMJ disorder may need to have the issue addressed prior to starting Invisalign treatment. Solutions like TMJ splint therapy can allow the joint to rest and heal. Once any significant pain and symptoms are under control, you’ll be in a better place to kick-off your Invisalign treatment. 

Can I Wear a Custom Night Guard During My Invisalign Treatment?

You won’t be able to wear a custom mouth guard for teeth grinding with Invisalign. During your Invisalign treatment, your teeth are moving on a regular basis, which would mean you would constantly need to have a new night guard made. 

Aside from that, you’ll want to wear your Invisalign aligners for 20 to 22 hours per day for optimal results, including when you’re sleeping at night. It would be tough (and pretty uncomfortable) to fit a night guard over your aligners. And, not wearing your aligners at night in order to use a night guard would interfere with the prescribed tooth movements. 

The good news is, as we mentioned above, Invisalign aligners will offer protection against the damage caused by teeth grinding. You should be perfectly fine wearing your aligners instead of your night guard during your treatment. 

How Can I Manage Teeth Grinding After Invisalign Treatment?

When you finish Invisalign treatment, you’ll wear an orthodontic retainer to hold your teeth in their newly aligned positions. Of course, just like with your aligners, wearing a retainer at night makes it difficult to wear a night guard. 

Many patients experience a huge improvement in teeth grinding after their treatment and don’t need to use a night guard anymore. Occasional grinding can often be managed using other approaches, such as stress reduction techniques. 

For those who still grind their teeth frequently, eventually, you’ll transition to using your retainer only a few nights per week. At our practice, we offer removable, clear retainers. They look and function like your Invisalign aligners. The retainer will provide similar protection against grinding as your aligners did. On the nights you’re not wearing your retainer, you can use your night guard. This won’t just keep your new smile safe; it will also help your clear retainer last longer. 

Connect With a Bellaire or Houston Orthodontist

If you still have questions about teeth grinding and Invisalign, contact Houston Orthodontic Specialists. We’re always happy to help. Or, if you’re ready to get and answer for “Am I a candidate for Invisalign?” and start with Invisalign in Houston or Bellaire, TX, schedule a complimentary consultation with us today! Our expert orthodontists will design a custom treatment plan that accounts for your needs, including issues like teeth grinding or TMJ dysfunction, to ensure you get the best Invisalign results possible in a way that’s comfortable and efficient.