If you're looking to maintain the position of your teeth and bite that's been fixed with braces or another orthodontic appliance, you're likely choosing between different retainers. What are the different types of retainers? How does an Essix retainer stack up against the competition? We're here to outline how Essix retainers work, what they cost, how to care for them, and what to look out for.
What Is an Essix Retainer?
Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications
Retainers are dental appliances that are typically made of metals, acrylic, plastic, or wires. While the most popular types are removable, some are fixed to your teeth. In terms of function, they either replace or supplement other orthodontic solutions like braces.
Retainers do their job by guiding and maintaining your teeth' position and the alignment of your bite. Even after braces adjust your teeth' position, forces incurred during chewing and other normal activities can shift them back out of place. Retainers ensure that your teeth can resist this pressure.
Types of retainers include:
- Essix retainers are removable and made of clear materials that offer an “invisible” look.
- Hawley retainers are removable and crafted from metals and acrylic materials.
- Permanent retainers are attached to the back of your teeth with glue or bonding agent.
Essix retainers are unique in their low-profile appearance. They’re constructed entirely of transparent plastic with no metal wires and are removable for meals and brushing. Your dental professional or a third-party company creates Essex retainers from an impression or mold of your teeth, custom-made for your smile.
How much do Essix retainers cost? The price of retainers can vary greatly depending on the type of materials used, the brand, quality, and your dental professional. According to the American Dental Association, Essix retainers can cost between $100 to $250.
While it can be appealing to have the less-noticeable change to your appearance that Essix retainers provide, some downsides come with their use. According to a study from the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, wearing Essix retainers may put you more at risk for:
- Increased plaque levels
- Higher frequency of bleeding
- More occurrences of breakage to the retainer
While these downsides should be important in making your choice in retainers, they also found that those wearing Essix retainers felt better about themselves and had increased comfort. Only you and your dental professional together can make the final choice weighing the pros and cons.
If you’re using a retainer after having braces, The American Dental Association recommends wearing it at all times for the first two to three months and at night afterward.
While these general rules can be a helpful guide, it’s important to keep in mind that they do not replace your dental professional's insight. Only they know your specific dental history and needs, so you should contact them if you have questions regarding how often or for how long you should wear your retainer.
Living with an Essix retainer, you should continue your normal dental care routine of brushing twice a day and cleaning between your teeth once a day. As these retainers can increase your risk of plaque, it’s essential to practice proper oral hygiene to avoid cavities and gum disease.
If you have trouble getting into the habit of wearing or caring for your retainer, remember that any habit will get easier to keep up once you’ve maintained it for a while. You’re in a great position, so it’s wise not to undo all the hard work you’ve done with braces or other orthodontics. Be sure to always carry your case with you and consider writing notes or reminders to best set yourself up for success.
Steps to care for your Essix retainer may include:
- Rinse it in cold water before and after each use
- Store it safely in the case when not in use
- Avoid overly hot or cold environments or water that could damage it
- Brush and rinse your retainer after each meal, but be sure to use a non-abrasive toothpaste
With an Essix retainer, you’ve paved the way for healthy teeth and a beautiful look by correcting your teeth and bite. Many find these unique retainers to smile confidently and avoid any self-conscious concerns around their appearance. You’ve done a great job by informing yourself of the ups and downs of Essix retainers.
This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.