What Is a Retainer?
According to the American Association or Orthodontics, it’s estimated that over 1.2 million adults in the United States are wearing braces to straighten their teeth and to obtain a beautiful smile. It’s also estimated that around 50% of adults snore, meaning that there are at least 600,000 adult snorers out there, some who are considering a snoring mouthpiece and are interested in this one question: “Can I wear a snoring mouthpiece instead of a retainer?”
So what is a retainer? Typical retainers have a metal framework and are custom-shaped to fit the exact contour of your teeth. Retainers serve to keep your teeth from shifting as your gums heal and stabilize. Most who have braces are given a retainer shortly after their braces are removed. Your orthodontist may instruct you to wear it for several weeks, 24 hours a day, and you may eventually wear it only while asleep, usually for several additional months until it’s no longer needed. This process usually takes up to a year or more.
Can I Wear a Snoring Mouthpiece Instead of My Retainer?
A traditional “boil and bite” style MAD style mouthpiece is quite different from a retainer. Most snoring mouthpieces are made from a soft, thermoplastic material and are not ridged or provide no framework to prevent movement. Additionally, while there are several boil and bite mouthpieces that take a close impression of your teeth, none of them are going to come close to the fit that your orthodontist will create for you.
Your orthodontist will also monitor your progress while wearing your retainer and make adjustment as needed. With a snoring mouthpiece, there is no oversight of an orthodontist.
Simply stated, a snoring mouthpiece is not as secure or as tailored as a retainer provided by your orthodontist. With that said, wearing a snoring mouthpiece instead of a retainer is not recommended as it is not specifically designed for this purpose and more likely than not, it will not be as effective as your orthodontist-provided retainer.
If you have worn a retainer as part of your orthodontic treatment, it is important to follow the usage instructions provided by your orthodontist and continue wearing the retainers for as long as they have instructed. Then and only then should you explore other options, such as a snoring mouthpiece.
Wearing a retainer is essential for preserving the results achieved with your orthodontic treatment. Retainers are specifically designed and tailored to fit in the small spaces between your teeth and to keep them from shifting back into their original position. If you are considering a snoring mouthpiece, it is important to keep in mind that it will not provide the same fit and stability as a retainer and therefore should not be relied on as the only form of maintenance for your orthodontic treatment.