How long should my clear orthodontic retainer last? Many of our customers ask this question before investing in a retainer set from us. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this question. There are several factors that can affect the lifespan of your retainers, but with proper care and maintenance, they should last you anywhere from 2-6 years.
Essix style retainers can and will yellow over time if they are not cleaned on a regular basis. Yellowing will cause the retainer to become brittle and increase the likelihood of cracking or breaking. You should clean your retainer with a soft-bristle toothbrush and non-abrasive toothpaste after each use, rinsing thoroughly after. Be sure to clean on a flat surface or cupped in your palm to avoid twisting. We also recommend cleaning using a specialized product like Fresh Guard twice a week to maximize the lifespan of your retainers.
Retainer life depends on many different factors, including retainer material, proper wear, proper care, and whether or not you grind your teeth. For the strongest and longest wearing Essix retainers, we recommend our Essix Plus retainers.
The most common way for your orthodontic retainer to break is twisting while you are taking them off. When removing the retainers, you want to use two hands and put equal pressure on both sides of the retainer. If you only grab from one side of the retainer it will twist the retainer this can cause it to crack and break. There is no way to repair an Essix retainer after it has cracked, so they will need to be replaced.
There are a few different brands of clear orthodontic retainers. At SportingSmiles we use only genuine Essix material. Essix retainers can be made from standard Essix material or from their Essix Plus material. The Essix Plus is a stronger material and will hold up better than the standard material. Other brands of clear retainer are made from less durable material and will be more likely to perish and break within a year or two of being made.
Everyone’s tooth structure is different. If there is a gap between your teeth, it can be a weak point in the retainer. If you do have a gap or missing tooth then you should be extra careful when removing the orthodontic retainer to ensure that no unnecessary stress is put on the weak point.
Teeth grinding guards work to withstand the intense pressure and friction of teeth grinding. Retainers are not designed to take the stress from teeth grinding or clenching, and therefore teeth grinding can shorten the lifespan of the orthodontic retainer significantly. If you suffer from teeth grinding (bruxism) you might want to upgrade to the Essix Plus material. It will handle the force that teeth grinding puts on the retainer better than the standard Essix material.
If you purchase your orthodontic retainers from SportingSmiles and follow our instructions for proper maintenance, then you should have a set of retainers that will last you for several years. Many of our customers have reported getting good use out of their Essix retainers for 5 years or more. Life can be unpredictable though, so it is always a good idea to have a spare set of retainers on hand in case something happens. You don’t want to let your teeth shift while you wait for a replacement to arrive. At SportingSmiles, we keep your impression on file for a year after ordering, and offer spare or replacement sets at a discounted rate.
Visit our site at SportingSmiles.com for more information on replacement retainers.