Essix retainers are a type of orthodontic retention device used to protect the results of your braces or clear aligner treatment. They are a set of clear, removable plastic retainers, and you will wear them regularly following your treatment.
An Essix retainer is one of the more affordable types of retainers available on the market: they range from about $150 to $500 for a set. Your orthodontist may include the cost of an Essix retainer in your total orthodontic care costs, and if insurance covers your braces treatment, it may help cover your retainer costs.
Essix is just one of several kinds of retainers: there are other clear retainers, including the Vivera™ retainer, which is made by Invisalign. According to research published by the National Institute of Health, Essix retainers are as effective as other kinds of retainers.
Vivera retainers are another form of clear aligner that works in a similar way. According to some orthodontists, Vivera retainers tend to be more durable and last longer than Essix retainers.
The below guide has answers to all your questions about Essix retainers. Whichever kind of retainer you use, remember that the retention phase is one of the most important parts of your orthodontic care, to protect the stability of your new healthy, beautiful smile!
There are 3 phases of orthodontic treatment:
Each phase of treatment is very important to the health and aesthetic of your smile, including the retention phase. Teeth have “memory”: even after they are moved into a better, healthier alignment, they still tend to drift back toward their original positions if the retainer is not used. According to the American Association of Orthodontists, retainers are a critical part of preventing this dental drift.
An Essix retainer is made of transparent plastic: you’ll have a top and bottom set, and they are removable. The plastic is molded uniquely to your teeth, and designed to fit snugly and comfortably in your mouth.
Essix retainers are “nighttime for a lifetime”: you’ll wear them all day for the first few months after your treatment phase is completed, and then every night for about a year after that.
If your orthodontist examines your teeth and approves, you can start wearing the Essix retainers every other night, and you’ll want to continue doing that for as long as you can.
A set of Essix retainers can last several years if properly cared for. Eventually, you will need to get a new set of retainers for your nighttime use. If the retainers are damaged, lost, or cracked, you should get a new set.
Many orthodontists offer a packaged set of multiple retainers, so if you lose or break an Essix retainer, you will already have a backup. If or when you run out of backup retainers, you can simply schedule a visit to your orthodontist to get fitted for a new set of Essix retainers.
And if you’ve moved or it’s been a long time since you visited the orthodontist, a new orthodontist can help fit you for an Essix retainer.
Essix retainers cost around $150 to $500 for a full set of retainers, top and bottom. These plastic retainers are on the lower end of cost for retainers, making them a popular option for many orthodontic patients.
The price varies due to your specific case, the orthodontist treating you, and the region where you’re seeking care. In some parts of the country, lab costs and other associated costs may be higher, raising the price of your Essix retainers.
An Essix retainer is built to last for several years, but eventually, you will have to replace the retainer with a new one. Some orthodontists offer a package of several sets of Essix retainers, so you’ll already have backups handy. If you need to go to the orthodontist to get fitted for a new retainer, there may be office visit costs added to the price of the retainers.
Essix retainers have many benefits, but it’s important to consider all aspects of your retainer care to decide which is right for you.
Essix retainers are one of several types of removable clear plastic retainers.
There are also permanent fixed retainers and Hawley retainers. These retainers have a different design but achieve the same goal of protecting the gains made by your orthodontic care.
A Hawley retainer is also removable, like Essix retainers, but made of metal and wire, which makes the Hawley retainer more noticeable, but also more durable.
A permanent bonded retainer is placed permanently on the back of the teeth (almost always on the bottom teeth), and stays there for many years. This type of retainer provides certain benefits
An Essix retainer – one of several forms of removable plastic retainer – is one of the most popular retention devices. The Hawley retainer is another. The Hawley retainer is also removable, but it is made out of acrylic and metal and fits snugly on the roof of the mouth.
Hawley retainers and Essix retainers are both reliable and effective: orthodontic researchers have found they provide the same effective results.
Because you remove Essix retainers for meals and drinking anything but water, there’s less concern of food getting stuck in the retainer.
You’ll wear the retainer full-time for the first few months after your orthodontic treatment, so you’ll simply remove both sets of retainers and store them in the case while you eat meals or drink anything besides water. Brush your teeth and rinse the retainers before you put them back in your mouth.
Once you switch to wearing the retainer at night, eating and drinking become even easier: just wait to put the retainer on until after you’ve eaten your meals for the day and brush your teeth before putting the retainer in for the night.
There aren’t any food restrictions with clear plastic retainers – as long as it’s stored safely and not in your mouth, you can eat and drink anything you like! Just remember to brush after meals and before bed, and to floss once a day!
In recent years, Essix retainers have also become a common short-term solution for missing teeth, before a permanent false tooth can be provided. A dentist or periodontist may use an Essix retainer to hide the hole created by the missing tooth. They will fit the Essix retainer over the patient’s teeth, with the missing tooth painted onto the retainer to hide the hole.
This is a temporary fix to hide the appearance of a missing tooth and is not intended to provide a permanent false tooth solution.
You can also use Essix retainers as a post-orthodontic treatment solution, even when you have a missing or false tooth, as long as your orthodontist approves. Talk to your doctor if you have questions about using a set of Essix retainers with a missing or false tooth.
Essix retainers are simple to care for and to keep clean. It’s important to keep your retainers clean and safely stored when not worn, to ensure that the gains made with your orthodontic treatment are protected.
If you care properly for your Essix retainer, you can expect a single set to last well over a year, potentially up to 5 years. But if the retainers are broken or misshapen, they won’t be as effective at protecting your smile alignment, so when this happens, it’s important to replace the retainer right away.
Even with regular retainer wear, some shifting is inevitable: your teeth will slowly settle into their new, proper positions, and there will be some adjustment involved. Wearing your Essix retainers is the best way to prevent more severe movement, to protect the gains made by your orthodontic treatment.