We are often asked by our customers about the difference between Invisalign and Clear Essix retainers, so we thought we should clear up some of the confusion. Although they might look the same and do share many similarities, they are designed to do very different tasks.
Invisalign is designed to move and straighten the teeth in small stages. The goal with Invisalign is not to keep the teeth where they are. The goal is to align them when they are not correctly aligned. With Invisalign, you typically will have several sets of clear aligners that you wear for two weeks at a time. You then go on to the next set of aligners. This process slowly puts pressure on the teeth in incremental stages, moving them to their new position. The number of aligners that you will be given depends on how much movement is needed to straighten the teeth. Invisalign uses 1mm clear Essix material to create these aligners. After the teeth are straightened, retainers are required to prevent the teeth from going back to their original location.
Clear Essix retainers are designed just to prevent the teeth from shifting. Retainers will not move or straighten your teeth, they will prevent them from shifting further. Retainers are made using the same 1mm clear Essix material as Invisalign, so it is easy to understand how people get the two confused. Essentially, your Essix retainers can be seen as the last stage in the sequence, which will hold your teeth in the right position once you are done with the Invisalign alignment process.
Both Essix retainers and Invisalign are made from the same material and are cleaned and taken care of in the exact same way, which makes it easy to remember!
With proper care, retainers can last for many years. While Invisalign can also last just as long, they’re designed to only be used for a short period of time. So, now you know! While the material, care instructions, and manufacturing process for Invisalign aligners and Essix retainers are essentially identical, the differences come from the purpose that they serve.