Do I Need A Retainer or a Night Guard? -Dr Aaron Lai

Q&A session with Dr. Aaron Lai

Hawley Retainer
Essix Retainer


Night Guard



Retainer VS Night Guard

What is the different?

Retainers are custom-made devices, usually made of wires (Eg: Hawley retainer) or clear plastic (Essix retainer), that hold teeth in position after any method of realigning of teeth.

Night guards are custom made devices made of rubbery material that protect your teeth from grinding on each other.

How do I know if I need a night guard?

If you frequently wake up with a sore jaw, a dull headache, chipped teeth, a wear off teeth or tooth pain, you may want to ask us if you are suffering from a condition called bruxism.

How do I know if I need a retainer?

After your braces treatment is finished, and your braces are removed, you will need retainers to hold your teeth in their new positions. It takes time for the bone and all the tissues around your teeth to reorganize and therefore it is necessary to use retainers until your bite stabilizes. In the first month after the braces are removed, the risk of relapse is very high. If your teeth move back to their original positions, you may need to redo your braces again to correct them. Hence, it’s imperative to get yourself a retainer to hold the teeth together.

What is Bruxism?

Bruxism is the medical term for grinding the teeth and clenching the jaw. It’s a silent killer. People sometimes grind their teeth without it causing any symptoms or problems until it’s too late. But regular, persistent teeth grinding can cause jaw pain and discomfort and wear down your teeth. It can also cause headaches and earache.

Can I use retainer instead to prevent teeth grinding?

Essix retainers will be able to take moderate teeth grinding but not heavy teeth grinding. If you are a heavy teeth grinder, you will either have to get the night guard retainer option or replace your essix retainers more often when it wears down.


How do I prevent grinding?

There are several ways to alleviate the effects of bruxism (grinding). One of the most common, which we may recommend, is a night guard. This is an appliance typically worn while sleeping through the night.


How long do I need to wait to receive my retainer/night guard?

Usually we require minimum 3-5 working days exclude public holiday/Sunday. If you would like to get it fast we do offer express service with small minimum fees. Contact for more info.


Upper VS lower guards: which one to make?

The upper guard is the default choice for most. Over 90% of patients choose the upper guard but that doesn’t mean you have to follow the crowd.  Most customers find the upper guard more comfortable since it doesn’t get in the way of their tongue as much as the lower guard.  But you may opt for a lower guard if you prefer the fit as no individual has the same preferences. If you’ve had some dental work done (e.g. crowns, bridge or implants) we may also recommends a lower guard instead. Usually, you only need either an upper OR a lower guard in order to protect against teeth grinding. Since the night guard sits between your upper & lower teeth, it functions as an effective protective barrier.  Only one guard is needed, unless we recommends otherwise.

How long do I need to wear my retainer/night guard?

We will prescribe the retention plan that is best for you. Some retainers are used full-time for the first 6 months, after that, the retainers are worn only at night, for a few years. Other retainers are worn full-time for about a week, and solely at night thereafter.

What if I don’t want to wear a removable retainer?

We do provide fixed retainer services depending on case per case scenario. Fixed retainers are normally kept in place permanently on your teeth for 5 years. Schedule an appointment under Dr Aaron Lai at Publika branch for more info.

How much does a retainer/night guard cost?

It ranges between RM150-RM350 per jaw. Schedule an appointment with Dr Aaron Lai at Publika branch/contact me at for more info.





Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article. The post expressed in this article is the author’s own and do not reflect the view of any other associate of Klinik Pergigian Fauziah.

Dr.Aaron Lai

Associate Dental Surgeon



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6 years ago

How much does it cost for fixed retainers?

6 years ago

Can i just order the retainer?