Essix retainers are similar to invisible aligners in that they are thin, plastic trays molded to fit flush against your teeth. Unlike aligners, an Essix retainer doesn’t shift your teeth into different positions, but instead holds them in place or makes slight refinements to them as the final stage of orthodontic treatment. These retainers are increasingly popular for the following reasons:
- Unlike permanent wire retainers that are cemented to the backs of your teeth, Essix retainers are removable, making brushing and flossing easier
- For patients who need to wear their retainers during daytime hours, Essix retainers are virtually invisible
- Essix retainers cover the full upper and/or lower arches of your teeth, while permanent wires are only adhered to the front few teeth
Getting an Essix Retainer
If we decide an Essix retainer is right for you, we’ll take a new set of impressions once your orthodontic treatment with braces is complete. In some circumstances, we may use an Essix retainer to refine the alignment of your teeth after your braces are removed, in which case we create a retainer based on the movements we want to achieve. For most patients, however, the Essix retainer is an exact mold of your teeth.
When you come to our office to pick up your retainer, we will provide you with detailed instructions for wear and care. We may ask you to wear your retainer all day in the initial weeks after your braces have been removed, then switch to nighttime only. After a year, most patients can transition to wearing their retainer at night once or twice a week to maintain their orthodontic treatment results.
To care for your retainer, store it in the plastic case we give you whenever you’re not wearing it. Rinse the retainer well before and after putting it in your mouth. When needed, use a retainer cleaner to dissolve plaque and kill odor-causing bacteria. Don’t eat with your retainer in and don’t use toothpaste or hard-bristled toothbrushes to clean it, as this can cause micro-abrasions that harbor bacteria.
Frequently Asked Questions About Essix Retainers
What is an Essix retainer?
An Essay retainer is a type of orthodontic retainer that looks similar to a clear plastic aligner—it’s clear, removable, and fits flush against your teeth. A set of Essix retainers can be worn on each arch to maintain the results of your orthodontic treatment.
Can you eat with an Essix retainer?
No, you should not eat while wearing an Essix retainer, nor should you drink anything other than water. When you eat or drink with your retainers in, the food debris and sugar can pool around your teeth, causing decay and stains.
Are Essix retainers effective?
Yes, as long as you wear your Essix retainers as instructed, they will work to keep your teeth in their proper positions.
How long do Essix retainers last?
The lifespan of an Essix retainer depends on how often you wear them and how well you take care of them. When you first begin wearing your retainers, you’ll need to wear them more often, which means you may need a new set of retainers after six months to a year. Once you’ve reached the point where you only need to wear your retainer at night, Essix retainers can last a few years.
How do you clean Essix retainers?
You can use a store-bought retainer cleaner to disinfect your Essix retainers and loosen any plaque buildup, but brushing with a soft-bristled toothbrush and non-abrasive toothpaste works as well. Always rinse your retainers in lukewarm water; hot water can warp the plastic.