You don’t have to wear tons of makeup to look beautiful; a gleaming smile does that job quite well. Perfectly-shaped teeth and a beautiful smile is what most people dream of achieving.

Thanks to the advancement in the field of dentistry, and the introduction of retainers –particularly Essix retainers, you can wear a smile with confidence. Before we delve into the science of Essix retainers, let’s go through some basics.

What is a Retainer?

As the name suggests, a retainer helps you to retain that beautiful smile of yours. Once your teeth get straightened with braces, your orthodontics may recommend wearing a retainer as the last step. The new positioning of the teeth usually takes four to six months to become permanent.

During the process, the teeth may relapse, i.e., try to shift back to the original position. Retainers guide and maintain the position of your teeth. Thus, your teeth remain properly aligned, thereby giving you an attractive smile.

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Types of Retainers

Essentially, there are two types of teeth retainers, (1) removable retainer and (2) permanent retainer. What type of retainer is best for you depends on several factors, including:

  • The condition of your teeth
  • Your dental and orthodontic treatment record
  • Your orthodontics recommendation

Your doctor may recommend placing either of the two retainers, i.e., a fixed retainer or a removable one. Depending on the condition of your teeth, you may need a combination of the two. For instance, you may receive a permanent retainer for the top teeth, and clear removable retainer, like Essix retainer, for the lower teeth.

What is an Essix Retainer?

Essix retainers belong to the removable variety of retainers. These retainers come in a transparent plastic form, which makes them less noticeable. Your doctor may recommend an Essix retainer as the last stage of orthodontic treatment. Some doctors even recommend using Essix retainer as an alternative to braces.

Compared to wire retainers, Essix retainers cover the entire arch of the teeth. The removable retainers work well for both your top and bottom teeth. You may not notice the movement, but your teeth often shift or try to shift their position.

Essix retainers fit over your teeth and snap them into their new place, and sometimes slide them into place. Generally, doctors recommend to wear Essix retainers overnight and to take them off during the day. Once you remove the retainers, make sure to keep them in a small plastic case.

How do Essix Retainers work?

Following orthodontic treatment, your teeth can still move because of the continual breakdown and rebuilding of the bone tissue.

You may not feel the movement, but when your teeth come under pressure, the teeth shift to new positions in the mouth. While the bone tissue is rebuilding around the teeth, retainers help to hold your teeth in their new place.

Each set of Essix retainer is unique to a patient’s mouth –it is molded to match the teeth exactly. Essix retainers put gentle force to guide teeth into their intended position. As a result, your upper and lower teeth remain even, straight, and properly aligned.

How Long Do You Need to Wear Your Retainer?

Generally, it takes more than 230 days for your teeth to settle in their new position after the removal of braces. According to Kingston Hospital, the standard duration for wearing retainers is 9 to 12months, given that you wear the retainers every night.

After a year, the wear gradually reduces, and you may have to wear them once or twice a week only. It is important to know that the retainers feel “tight” when your teeth start to shift to their pre-treatment position. In that case, you may have to increase the level of wearing your retainer.

You may also have to wear retainers for longer than a year. A study in the European Journal of Orthodontics suggests full-time wear following orthodontic treatment. However, it is better to follow your orthodontics guidelines on when and how long you should wear the Essix retainers.

How Long Does an Essix Retainer Last?

Due to the clear plastic material they are made of, Essix retainers have an aesthetic appeal to them. Essix retainers, also known as overlay retainers, fully cover the teeth. Your wear routine and how well you take care of your retainer determine the lifespan of your Essix retainer.

So, the life span of an Essix retainer last varies from person to person or set to set, you may say. On average, an Essix retainer lasts for 3 to 5 years. Following some simple steps, you can extend the life span of your Essix retainer. (We will share the tips in the next section)

Advantages of Essix Retainer

Essix retainers are very popular among different age groups due to the many advantages they offer, including:

·         Invisibility

Visible orthodontics treatments shatter the confidence of the braces or retainer wearer. However, with Essix retainer, you don’t have to worry about the “unwanted attention.” The transparent plastic material makes the Essix retainer almost invisible unless someone is close to your face.

·         Better Alignment

Since Essix retainers are molded exactly like the patient’s teeth, they fit better than other retainers. They are more comfortable and effective in keeping the teeth right in their place.

·         Oral Hygiene

Unlike the fixed or wire-based retainers, Essix retainers make it easy to maintain good oral hygiene. All you have to do is to remove the plastic mold and brush your teeth as you normally do.

Common Problems and Questions Surrounding an Essix Retainer

While Essix retainers are beneficial in many ways, they also have some drawbacks.  Before discussing the common problems with an Essix retainer, here are some FAQs about the treatment.

  1. Can I eat with an Essix Retainer?

Yes, you can easily eat or drink with an Essix retainer in your mouth. Unlike the wire retainers, you won’t feel discomfort in eating with an Essix retainer. You can even remove the retainer when eating and put them back after the meal.

  • Can I adjust my Essix retainer?

No, an Essix retainer cannot be adjusted in case your teeth need realignment. You will have to get a new set of retainers. Also, you may have to replace the old retainer following a major dental work.

  • Do Essix retainers break easily?

Essix retainers are fragile and susceptible to break easily. Improper removal and mishandling while cleaning are the major reasons retainers break. Once broken or damaged, you can’t repair an Essix retainer.  

  • Is an Essix Retainer Heat sensitive?

An Essix retainer is made of plastic. Exposure to heat may cause the plastic to shrink. Also, an Essix retainer may become discolored with time and look yellowish.

Some Common Problems

  • An Essix retainer may interfere with your speech more compared to permanent retainers.
  • Essix Retainers may cause excessive saliva production.
  • Essix retainers may serve as a breeding ground for bacteria.
  • It can trap liquids in your teeth, leading to cavities.
  • Essix retainers are easier to lose.

How to Care For Your Essix Retainer?

If you want to protect your retainers from damage and discoloration, it is important to take care of them in the following ways.

  • Keep your Essix retainers in a braces plastic case when you are not wearing them.
  • Every time you take out your retainers or put them back in the case, rinse them in cold water.
  • Brushing the retainer with toothpaste can scratch its surface, avoid that.
  • Use cold or lukewarm water to brush your retainer after each meal.
  • Don’t use hot water as it can warp the plastic.
  • Deep clean the retainer every two to three months using a specialized retainer cleaning solution.

Essix Retainer Price

Essix retainers are available at different prices depending on the quality of the material used. Usually, you may get an Essix retainer for your teeth for somewhere between $50 and $300. While you may find it heavy on the pocket, it’s the bang for your bucks. With proper care, your Essix retainer will help you wear a confident smile for years and years.