Orthodontic retainers prevent your teeth from shifting. Orthodontists prescribe them after orthodontic treatment. They may also be used to prevent further shifting of the teeth preemptively to avoid an orthodontic procedure. Teeth have an elastic memory and will want to move back to their original position after correction, and dental retainers will prevent them from moving. Wearing your retainer for the prescribed time and on a regular basis ensures the retainer keeps the adjustments permanent.
There are several different options available to choose from when it comes to a retainer. But the two main types of material used for construction are acrylic and wire, or flexible polypropylene. Each material works with a distinct style of retainer. Acrylic and wire create the Hawley retainer model, while polypropylene creates the Essix retainer models.
All Hawley dental retainers use orthodontic wire and acrylic to create the base. The wires attach to the teeth and exert force onto the teeth to shift them into place. The Hawley retainer is the older style of the two but is still in use. While effective and very popular through most of the 20th century, the Hawley retainer is fairly noticeable. It can also be uncomfortable to wear, sometimes causes issues with speech, and is the more expensive of the two to produce by quite a significant margin. They do have an advantage though. Repairs can occur if you break the acrylic or bend the wire. Adjustment of the wires is possible, so a dentist can change the retainer if it requires minor adjustments for comfort.
Essix is a brand name of the plastic composite retainer material. These retainers are made from a clear sheet of polypropylene. The sheet is then vacuum or thermoformed over a dental model of your teeth. This is the same kind of retainer that the Invisalign system uses. Essix retainers can be made from Essix ACE or Essix Plus material. The advantage of Essix dental retainers over Hawley retainers is that the retainers can be almost invisible. They also have a minimal effect on speaking and are relatively inexpensive to produce compared to Hawley retainers. Unfortunately, once they crack, repairs are impossible.
SportingSmiles does what it can to make Essix retainer replacement easier! Once we create a model of your teeth, SportingSmiles keeps it for a year after your initial order and offers spare sets or replacements at a discount.
Upper and Lower Dental Retainers
Both types of retainers will prevent the teeth from shifting after an orthodontic procedure. Confirm that the manufacturer uses genuine Essix material when buying an Essix retainer. If you have cracked your retainers in the past or grind your teeth at night, it may be worth inquiring about the Essix Plus material. The Essix Plus material is just as thin and unobtrusive as the standard Essix ACE material, but much more durable.