Close Up Of Woman Using An Essix Retainer

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.