How do I Select the Right Night Grinding Guard for Me?

Chew Resistant Mouthguard
Chew Resistant Mouthguard

Do you suffer from teeth grinding, or bruxism? The easiest way to combat the symptoms is to wear a teeth grinding guard. They are also commonly referred to as night guards. There are two types of night guards available. Over-the-counter night guards can be purchased from most drug stores and custom night guards are made in a dental lab.

The over the counter guards are significantly cheaper than a custom night guard and tend to be bulkier and less comfortable. They don’t typically don’t last as long, as they are made from cheaper materials. Ill-fitting night guards can also be uncomfortable and cause gagging, which often leads to users not wearing them regularly.

Custom night guards are made in a dental lab using an impression of your teeth, allowing for the tightest, most comfortable fit and are very durable. They also tend to offer a wider selection of thicknesses and material combinations, so that you can get the guard that is right for your specific grinding and comfort needs.

The most important part of picking a night grinding guard is understanding your type of Bruxism. Some guards are designed to prevent teeth from grinding, others from clenching or a combination of both. At Sporting Smiles we offer a variety of material combinations to meet all grinding or clenching needs.

Soft Night Guard

This guard is constructed with 3mm of a flexible, soft, and comfortable material. This night guard works well for teeth clenching and light grinding. If you often chew through guards fairly quickly or have been diagnosed with severe grinding then you may want to explore other models.

Single Layer Hard Night Guard

This guard contains 1mm of dense protective material. This night guard is designed for people with light grinding that prefer a thinner, less bulky solution. If you have tried other guards but find that you do not like the feeling of them in your mouth and experience gagging, then this may be the guard for you.

Dual Laminate Night Guard

This guard is 3mm thick and combines 1mm of a soft inner material and a 2mm harder exterior. This guard is designed for heavy grinding and moderate clenching. It is more durable than the softer or thinner options but is more comfortable than the hard flexible night guard.

Night Guard

Hard Flexible Night Guard

This guard offers maximum protection with 3mm of an extremely dense material, but is still flexible. This night guard is designed for severe night grinding and strong clenching. If you have been diagnosed with severe grinding by your dentist, or find that you regularly chew through your current guards, then you may want to try this option out.

There are also specialty guards. They are referred to as
BackCut or DayGuards. These guards will have the front incisors of the guard removed. BackCut night guards also work well when

Teeth Whitening Options at Home

Everybody wants to have a smile that can light up a room. It the first thing about you that people notice. Good dental hygiene and a regular brushing regimen can go a long way to keeping your pearly whites pearly white. However, as life goes on it can be difficult to keep your teeth sparkling, no matter how well you treat them. Coffee, cigarettes, and a number of other things can yellow your teeth over time. Thankfully there are a number of safe, easy teeth whitening options. One option is to visit a dentist and they can whiten your teeth in the office. It is a method trusted by lots of people, but it can be quite expensive and time-consuming, especially for touch-ups. The other option is to save money and whiten them at home.

A Trip to the Dentist

Home Teeth Whitening
Teeth Whitening Kit

When you whiten your teeth in the dentist’s office, they will apply a block out dam to your gums. Then they will apply 44% or higher whitening gel to your teeth. Using a UV light, they will accelerate the whitening process. It normally takes about an hour and you will see an immediate change in your tooth shade. The issue is that this normally only last a few months and your teeth will start to darken again. It’s not worth going back to the dentist’s office just for little touch-ups. They will charge you for a full session to get your teeth back up to white when they begin to lose their sparkle again.

Teeth Whitening at Home!

If you opt for home whitening, you will get a kit that includes whitening gel with a lower percentage. It also comes with whitening trays to hold the gel against your teeth. The best way to whiten your teeth at home is to have custom whitening trays made. These are made just for you and your mouth, preventing the whitening gel from going everywhere. The advantage is that the trays will last forever; you just need to get extra whitening gel when you need a touch-up. You can also purchase 35% gel for a low price. This is a lot easier than having to make another appointment with your dentist and spending a lot more money. At Sporting Smiles, we recommend the custom whitening trays made in a dental lab. However, there are also thermo-form trays that you can make at home using boiling water. These work but are less comfortable. You also end up using a lot more whitening gel because the gel goes all over. Gel overflow can also cause pain and discomfort on the gums, which can make whitening at home a less pleasant experience.

If you are looking to whiten your teeth, we recommend spending a little bit of money to get custom made whitening trays that will last for years.

If you would like to find out more about home whitening options, please feel free to get in touch with our team at [email protected]

How Long Should My Orthodontic Retainer Last?

How long should my clear orthodontic retainer last? Many of our customers ask this question before investing in a retainer set from us. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this question. There are several factors that can affect the lifespan of your retainers, but with proper care and maintenance, they should last you anywhere from 2-6 years.

Upper + Lower Dental Retainers

Retainer Care

Essix style retainers can and will yellow over time if they are not cleaned on a regular basis. Yellowing will cause the retainer to become brittle and increase the likelihood of cracking or breaking. You should clean your retainer with a soft-bristle toothbrush and non-abrasive toothpaste after each use, rinsing thoroughly after. Be sure to clean on a flat surface or cupped in your palm to avoid twisting. We also recommend cleaning using a specialized product like Fresh Guard twice a week to maximize the lifespan of your retainers.

Proper Removal

The most common way for your retainers to break is twisting while you are taking them off. When removing the retainers, you want to use two hands and put equal pressure on both sides of the retainer. If you only grab from one side of the retainer it will twist the retainer this can cause it to crack and break. There is no way to repair an Essix retainer after it has cracked, so they will need to be replaced.

Retainer Material

There are a few different brands of clear retainers. At SportingSmiles we use only genuine Essix material. Essix retainers can be made from standard Essix material or from their Essix Plus material. The Essix Plus is a stronger material and will hold up better than the standard material. Other brands of clear retainer are made from less durable material and will be more likely to perish and break within a year or two of being made.

Tooth Structure

Everyone’s tooth structure is different. If there is a gap between your teeth, it can be a weak point in the retainer. If you do have a gap or missing tooth then you should be extra careful when removing the orthodontic retainer to ensure that no unnecessary stress is put on the weak point.

Teeth Grinding

Teeth grinding guards are specifically designed to withstand the intense pressure and friction of teeth grinding. Retainers are not designed to take the stress from teeth grinding or clenching, and therefore teeth grinding can shorten the lifespan of the orthodontic retainer significantly. If you suffer from teeth grinding (bruxism) you might want to upgrade to the Essix Plus material. It will handle the force that teeth grinding puts on the retainer better than the standard Essix material.

If you purchase your retainers from Sporting Smiles and follow our instructions for proper maintenance, then you should have a set of retainers that will last you for several years. Many of our customers have reported getting good use out of their Essix retainers for 5 years or more. Life can be unpredictable though, so it is always a good idea to have a spare set of retainers on hand in case something happens. You don’t want to let your teeth shift while you wait for a replacement to arrive. At Sporting Smiles, we keep your impression on file for a year after ordering, and offer spare or replacement sets at a discounted rate.

Visit our site at for more information on replacement retainers.

What to do When Your Dental Retainer has Cracked

So your custom-fitted clear Essix dental retainer has cracked? That’s okay. While the Essix retainers are by far the most comfortable, non-intrusive retainer model, they can be somewhat prone to cracking or breaking. Proper care and maintenance will go a long way to keeping your retainers durable and preventing them from yellowing and becoming brittle. With that being said, we understand that sometimes life just happens. 

Now what?

Essix Retainer Broken
A broken retainer
  • Don’t panic! Your teeth will not shift back to their pretreatment position right away. You do want to get a new retainer quickly though. Teeth have elastic memory, so if you leave it for too long without a retainer then they will begin to shift again.
  • Unfortunately, there is no way to repair Essix retainers. You will have to order a replacement. Thankfully, at Sporting Smiles we keep your impressions on file for one year after your initial order. That way, we can offer you discounted replacement retainers without the hassle of taking a new impression.
  • If it is possible, you should continue to wear the retainer. Even if it is in two pieces, it will still serve to hold the teeth in place. Just be sure that there is no pinching of the gums or risk of swallowing a loose piece of the retainer in your sleep.
  • If this is the first time that you are ordering from us, check if you have your old dental mold. If you have a mold of your teeth, Sporting Smiles can use the mold to make you a new retainer. In an emergency, this may be the best option. However, once the replacement arrives we still recommend taking a new impression. Getting a spare retainer set made is always a good idea. Your old dental model may also not be completely accurate anymore. Our self-impression kits make getting an updated dental mold a breeze.
  • If you find that you regularly crack your retainers, or suffer from teeth grinding and wear through them, then you may want to try the Essix Plus retainers. The Plus material is 2x as durable as standard material. That means it is less likely to perish and crack over time.
  • While there is no need to panic, you should act quickly. We have an expedited shipping option that will get your replacement to you as quickly as possible. If you need to take a new impression, or do not have a dental model to hand, then you will definitely want to go with expedited shipping. That way we can get the impression kit to you before the teeth begin to shift.
  • As soon as you receive your replacement set, it is a good idea to order a spare set. You may even want to order a spare set along with the replacement set. That way you can avoid the stress of being without a retainer. If your current set breaks or gets lost, you will be glad to have a spare set on hand. At SportingSmiles we keep all impressions on file for 1 year. You can reorder another pair at a discounted rate.

There you have it! If your dental retainer has cracked, there is nothing to panic about. Just get in touch and we will do everything we can to get you a replacement set in time to preserve all that hard work that you’ve put into your smile.

If you have any questions at all about ordering a replacement retainer, feel free to reach out to our team at [email protected]

Taking an Impression with SportingSmiles Dental Self-Impression Kit

At Sporting Smiles, our goal is always to provide our customers with the highest-quality dental products help you get the smile that you want. We don’t cut any corners, so we only make custom-fitted guards, retainers, and whitening trays. Custom fitting means that you get the most comfortable, efficient experience from your dental solution. Going with Sporting Smiles means that you cut out the middle man and save money while getting the highest quality. The first step in getting a custom-fitted guard or retainer is taking a dental impression. You can have this done by a dentist, but it is much more cost effective to take your own impression at home with our dental self-impression kits, included with all orders of a custom guard, retainer, or tray.

Video Instructions

Written Instructions


  1. SportingSmiles Impression Kit
    SportingSmiles Dental Self-Impression Kit

    Firstly, you need to thoroughly brush your teeth and make sure your hands are clean before using our dental self-impression kit. Any material in the teeth can affect the impression, and hygiene is of the utmost importance when dealing with dental matters.

  2. Adjust the dental tray to the size of your mouth. They are adjustable in width by pulling the two halves of the tray apart. The tray can also be made smaller by snapping off a section(s) of the plastic in the rear of the impression tray. Your teeth should be centered in the tray when checking the size.
  3. Vigorously mix both parts (A & B) of the impression material together until a uniform color is reached. This step is time sensitive and should be done as quickly as possible (about 20 sec).
  4. The impression material should then be rolled into a 4 to 5-inch tube.
  5. Place impression material uniformly into the tray and firmly push the tray onto your teeth. Confirm that the teeth are evenly settled in the impression material before leaving it to set.
  6. It will take about 4 minutes for the material to fully harden. During this time you want to move as little as possible. After 4 minutes the material should feel firm to the touch and the impression can be removed.
  7. Remove the tray in a single, smooth motion by pulling either up or down with as little side-to-side movement as possible.
  8. Rinse the tray and seal in a closed bag.
  9. Send the impression to us and wait for your custom-fitted dental guard or retainer to arrive!

If you are concerned that the impression isn’t OK, you can send a picture to [email protected]

Prevent Chewing on Your Sports Mouthguard

Lebron Chewing on Mouthguard
Sports stars can afford to chew through their custom guards.

Chewing on your sports mouthguard can be a costly habit, especially if you have a custom designed guard. If you have invested in a custom-fitted mouthguard then by now you know just how much better they are than the over the counter options. Your chewing habit shouldn’t be a reason to go back to uncomfortable, unsafe mouth guards. If you haven’t yet invested in a custom-fitted guard then that might be exactly the thing that will stop you from chewing your way through your guards. We’ve put together a couple of options that will help your mouthguard last longer.

Keep it on your teeth

If you find yourself regularly chewing your mouthguards into a mangled mess, then the first thing to try is getting yourself a custom-fitted sports mouthguard. These are made using an exact impression of your teeth and are available online from SportingSmiles or through your dentist. These guards are custom made just for you, which allows them to fit tighter to the teeth. The tightness helps prevent chewing by preventing you from popping the guard off using your tongue. When the mouth guards aren’t on your teeth and are being chewed on, the guard is destroyed very quickly. You will see some professional athletes doing this, but it’s not cost effective for your non-professional athlete to be chewing on their mouth guards. A custom fit guard will also be more comfortable and will give you better protection than an over the counter guard.

Get a better fit

If you have already invested in a custom fit sports mouthguard but still find yourself chewing through it, it can be a very expensive habit. Some custom-fitted guard manufacturers cut corners and do not use the same rigorous manufacturing process as we do at Sporting Smiles. The dental labs that we use employ precision trimming technology on all of our guards to get the snuggest fit possible. The tighter the fit, the less likely you are to pop it off with your tongue and chew on it during your games. If you are spending money on getting a custom fit guard, you should know that it is manufactured to the highest quality. At Sporting Smiles, you can rest easy knowing that it is.

Chew-proof guard

A custom-fit mouthguard.

If you have already purchased one of our custom-fitted guards and you still find chewing your mouthguard irresistible, then SportingSmiles offers a guard designed for athletes that have issues with chewing\grinding their sports guard. We offer both a 3mm chew resistant mouth guard, and a 6mm chew resistant mouth guard. The 3mm is designed for low contact sports and the 6mm is designed for heavy contact sports. The 6mm has 3mm of our chew resistant inner material (hardness 95), the exterior is covered with 3mm of standard clear mouthguard material. This guard is more chew resistant than any other on the market.

Contact SportingSmiles if you have any questions about how to get a guard that can stand up to your chewing habit.

How a Retainer is Made Using Your Own Model

We have had some of our customers inquire about the way in which our Essix clear retainers are made. At Sporting Smiles, we have every confidence in our manufacturing process. We have 25+ years of experience making dental molds, retainers, guards, and whitening trays, as well as a dentist on staff to oversee the production of all of our products. Whether you take an impression and have us create a model for you, or send us your own existing dental model, we guarantee that you will get a product that is the perfect fit for your mouth. We can use your existing dental models that are made from plaster, dental stone, 3d printed models, or even the STL 3d model files. Check out our video below to see exactly how a retainer is made.


How Your Retainer is Made

In the video above you can see exactly how we take your self-impression or dental model and turn it into a high-quality, custom-fitted retainer. Because we only use the best tools and materials, we have nothing to hide from you, our customers. Please take a look and gain some insight into exactly how your favorite retainers were made!

Clear dental Retainers can be ordered online here:

Cleaning Dental Retainers & Invisalign Clear Retainers

At Sporting Smiles, we often get asked by our customers how best to clean their Essix retainers or Invisalign systems. It’s a good question to be asking because cleaning dental retainers is very important. Without proper care and maintenance, the thin material of Essix retainers and Invisalign molds can become brittle. This leads to perishing and cracking. That’s why we thought we would put together a little how-to article to properly guide you through the cleaning and maintenance regime. These instructions are designed for clear Essix retainers, but can also be used for Invisalign clear retainers.

Cleaning your clear Essix or Invisalign retainers

  1. Firstly, you want to thoroughly rinse the retainers in luke-warm water. Hot water will damage the retainer over time. Never rinse your retainers or Invisalign with an alcohol-based mouthwash. The mouthwash will dry out the material of the retainer and cause cracking and weak spots.
  2. Next, using a soft bristle toothbrush and a non-abrasive toothpaste, brush the guard softly and thoroughly. While brushing the guard, you want to be careful not to crack the retainer. This can occur when you apply uneven pressure by holding the retainer in one hand and brushing the other side. A good way to keep the pressure even is to cup the retainer in your other hand while cleaning or place it on a flat surface covered with a soft towel. This type of cleaning should be done regularly with your retainer.

fresh-guard-soak-cleanerFor a deep clean we recommend using Fresh Guard soak. It’s made by Efferdent and can be found at most drug stores and large department stores.  It’s normally less than $10 for 24 packets and there always seems to be printable coupons online.  After you brush your retainers, you want to pour one of the fresh guard packets into a cup of warm water and wait for it to dissolve. Once fully dissolved, place your retainers in the solution for about 5 minutes. You will know the cleaning process is over once the Fresh Guard changes from a blue color to clear. When the solution turns clear, remove the retainers right away. Don’t leave the retainers in the solution for longer than ten minutes, or you risk damaging the retainers. After removing, rinse thoroughly and your retainer should be clear and clean. You only need to deep clean your retainers like this once every two weeks or so.

How not to clean your retainers

  1. As stated above, never soak your retainers in mouthwash. Mouthwash contains alcohol. The alcohol will dry out the retainer and damage it.
  2. Don’t use diluted bleach water to wash or soak your retainers. We have heard about people using this method and it’s not good for the retainers and can permanently give them a bleach taste, which nobody wants!

If you have questions about cleaning your retainer or getting replacement retainers please contact SportingSmiles.

How Long will a Teeth Grinding Night Guard Last?

We get asked this question often, and it’s not always easy to give an exact answer. We like to use the analogy of a pair of running shoes and an Olympic athlete. A standard pair of running shoes might last the typical person a couple of years, but an Olympic athlete only a couple months. The level of impact that you have on your night guard will naturally affect how long it will last. If you are someone who experiences severe grinding or clenching, the lifespan of your night guard will be dramatically shortened.

When trying to get the longest lifespan out of a night guard, it is important to make sure that you have the proper night guard for your type of clenching or grinding. Just like an Olympic athlete, having the right equipment is essential. If you have the proper night guard, it will typically last anywhere from 2-5 years.

Night Guard

We sometimes have customers say that they have had the same night guard for over 10 years. In these cases, they normally had a hard acrylic night guard. While this kind of longevity sounds fantastic, recent studies have shown that solid acrylic night guards can often do more harm than good. A night guard is deliberately designed to be softer than the teeth so that the guard will wear and protect the teeth from wear themselves. Naturally, though, this means that a good night guard will wear over time.  

To get the longest life span out of a night guard:

1 –  Pick the correct night guard

Make sure that your guard is the correct type to handle your level of grinding or clenching. Your dentist should be able to tell you what level you are. Once you have that information, our team are here to help you make the right choice.

2 – Clean your night guard regularly

Just like any piece of equipment, keeping your night guard clean is essential to prolonging its lifespan. We recommend using a quality, specialized cleaner to disinfect and prevent yellowing. Do not use alcohol-based mouthwash as this will cause perishing.

3 – Store Guard Correctly

This may seem like an obvious one, but the easiest way to lower the lifespan of your night guard is to have it get chewed up by a beloved pet. It’s not their fault, but dogs absolutely love to chew on night guards. Make sure your guard is always in the case and out of reach of animals.

If you follow these three tips, then you can rest assured that you will get the most out of your nightguard. However, like all things in life it is impossible to protect against every eventuality. It’s always a good idea to have a duplicate of your night guard in case one is lost. The backup can be worn while a replacement is being created, ensuring that you don’t do any damage to your teeth while you wait. For more information on the different types of teeth grinding guards visit

Do You Grind Your Teeth at Night?

Do you grind your teeth at night (bruxism), but also need a retainer to keep your teeth straight? While particularly common in children, teeth grinding at night (nocturnal bruxism) is estimated to affect more than 8% of adults. Associated with stress, caffeine intake, and sleep apnea, bruxism can cause a number of unwanted side effects. Loss of enamel and even cracked teeth can occur. There are many options available to sufferers of bruxism, both to deal with the side effects and protect the teeth from grinding in the first place.

Things become more complicated when you also need to wear a retainer at night. Regular retainer usage is essential to maintain the alignment of your teeth after an orthodontic procedure. How can you preserve both your teeth alignment and protect against bruxism? We are asked this question regularly. Well, do not despair, there are indeed solutions to this problem. Our team is here to help you identify which one would work best for you.

Hard Night Guard and a Retainer

The primary function of a night guard is to protect the teeth from grinding or clenching. With a hard night guard, its secondary function is to also prevent the teeth from shifting. However, a night guard will not work as well as dedicated retainers do to prevent the teeth from shifting. We recommend getting both a hard night guard and a retainer for optimum impact. You can wear the night guard most nights and wear the retainer a couple of nights a week to confirm that the teeth are not shifting. Alternatively, in severe cases, the retainer can be worn during the day to keep teeth from shifting, and the night guard can protect against grinding on a nightly basis.

Essix Plus Retainers

For many, a new solution that can make life simpler is the new Essix plus material. The new material is much more wear resistant than the standard Essix material, meaning that Essix plus retainers will be able to take moderate teeth grinding but not heavy teeth grinding. This means that most bruxism sufferers can now kill two birds with one stone and not have to worry about choosing between optimum teeth alignment or grinding protection. However, if you are a heavy teeth grinder, you will either need to opt for the separate night guard/retainer option or be prepared to replace your Essix plus retainers more often.

Teeth Grinding Retainer

Depending on your level of grinding helps decide the correct option for you. If you have questions please contact us at [email protected] or at 262-290-2396