How Long Will My Clear Essix Retainers Last?

We are often asked the same question by our customers. How long will my Essix retainers last? There is no right answer to this question. Usage patterns and how well the retainers are cared for will ultimately determine a retainers’ lifespan, barring any accidents. It really is different for each person. With proper care, your clear Essix retainers can last you anywhere from two to six years. Naturally, there are a few simple things you can do to extend the life of your retainers.

4 Easy Steps

  1. Always use two hands to remove them from your teeth. The twisting motion of pulling on one side of the retainers will put unnecessary stress on them and can cause them to crack.
  2. When cleaning your retainers, always either support them in your hand or place them on top of a towel on the countertop. This ensures that the pressure is evenly distributed across the retainers while cleaning, preventing the twisting motion that can crack the retainers.
  3. Regular cleaning will help prevent the retainers from yellowing and getting brittle. We recommend using FreshGuard cleaner twice a week and brushing them after each use. Cleaning instructions can be found here.
  4. Storing them in a case away from pets will also help. Pets love nothing more than to chew on retainers. Unfortunately, they are made from the exact same material that dog chews are made from. Ensuring that you store your retainers in a high location out of reach of pets will definitely help to prolong its life.

Try Essix Plus

Essix Plus Clear retainer

If you find that your retainers are cracking regularly, you may want to upgrade to the Essix Plus material. Essix Plus retainers are made from more durable material and will extend the life of your retainers. Spending a little bit more up front can save you money down the line. If you tend to experience cracking or light damage to your retainers, Essix Plus may be for you. 

Get a Spare Set of Retainers

Investing in another set of retainers is a great way to avoid being caught out when an accident occurs. Being without a set of retainers while you await a replacement can give your teeth time to shift back to their old positioning. At SportingSmiles, we offer your second set at a discounted rate. That way, you can prepare for when you need a replacement without breaking the bank. If you have questions about getting a replacement set of retainers, please visit or email us at [email protected]

Teeth Whitening Frequently Asked Questions: FAQ

Teeth Whitening FAQ

Q: How long does the teeth whitening gel last?

A: Our whitening gel has a two-year shelf life. You want to store the whitening gel at or below room temperature and away from direct sunlight. Refrigeration can be used to extend the life of the gel. If the gel gets too hot, it will become liquid and will be unusable.

Q: How long do I need to wear my whitening trays?

A: We recommend wearing them for two weeks, once a day for 15-20 minutes, or until your desired whiteness is reached. You do not want to whiten more than once a day. After the desired shade is reached, touch-ups can be done as needed. Feel free to ask out team about the right touch-up frequency for you.

Q: How much gel should I put in the tray?

A: This answer is different per person depending on your mouth size. The typical amount needed is around .5ml per dental tray. If the gel is overflowing onto your gums, you have too much gel in the tray. Simply use a Q-tip, finger, or tissue to wipe away any extra gel.

Q: I have a crown, bridge, or other dental work. Will this whiten that also?

A: Whitening gel will only work on natural teeth. It will not whiten any dental work or artificial teeth.

Q: What strength is the gel?

A: The gel syringes provided in the kit are 35% Carbamide Peroxide Bleaching Gel.

Q: Is teeth whitening safe for my teeth?

A: The process of using dental whitening trays has been around for 20+ years. There have been no studies that show any damage due to teeth whitening.

Q: How are whitening trays different than using Zoom (laser) or whitening strips?

A: Laser whitening works great to whiten your teeth, but is expensive and will only last for a couple of months. After the whitening is done, there is no way to do touch-ups without returning for a full-cost laser whitening again. Whitening strips are around 7% peroxide and don’t come into full contact with your teeth. With our whitening trays, the gel is 35% peroxide and cover the teeth fully.

Q: How long will my whitening trays last?

A: Whitening trays can last forever if you clean them correctly and don’t chew on them while whitening.

Q: Are certain shades of tooth staining more receptive to whitening?

A: Yes. Yellow teeth are very receptive to whitening. Brown teeth are somewhat less receptive to whitening, while grey or purple teeth may not respond to whitening at all.

Why Have a Pair of Backup Dental Retainers?

No matter how well you look after your retainer, there’s no preparing for unexpected damage or loss. Whether it’s leaving your retainer in a hotel room, or one of your four-legged friends turning it into their chew toy, even the most careful of us can find ourselves suddenly without a retainer. Your teeth are important, and waiting for a replacement retainer can be long enough to undo some of your dental work. Many of our customers find it beneficial to order two sets of retainers from us, or they already have a set of retainers and order a pair of backup dental retainers. We strongly recommend preparing for the worst and ordering a spare set now, rather than being caught out when life happens. We even offer your second set of retainers at a discount, as long as we still have your impression on file.

Why Get Backup Dental Retainers?

Upper + Lower Dental Retainers
Upper + Lower Dental Retainers


We give a 30% discount on getting an additional set because we care about your smile.

Retainers are Fragile

A downside of Essix retainers is that they are fragile and can crack fairly easily. Proper care and maintenance can help to keep your retainer durable and extend its lifespan. Unexpected events can still easily result in cracks or breakages though. Don’t put your teeth at risk of shifting while you wait for a replacement to be delivered.  

Cheap Insurance

You may have paid thousands of dollars to have your teeth straightened. During the time when you’re looking for your old retainers or getting a replacement set, your teeth can shift. Having a spare set on hand is a cheap way of preserving your expensive dental work.

Four-legged Friends

Dogs love to eat retainers! We get 5-6 calls every week from customers saying that their dog ate their retainers. They are just irresistible to them. If your furry best friend turns your retainer into a chew toy, you’ll be glad you had a spare set.

Invisible Accidents

Having clear retainers is great for making them virtually invisible while on your teeth. However, this feature makes them very easy to accidentally throw out. If your retainers seem to have magically disappeared, there’s a strong chance that they’ve been thrown out by accident.

Expensive Replacements

If you are in a rush to get replacement retainers and have to go to a dentist it can cost anywhere from $300 – $600. For less than $100 you can get a replacement set from, or even better get a spare set before anything goes wrong in the first place.

Having your teeth straightened is an expensive and sometimes painful process. It’s worth it though, to get the smile you always wanted. You want to make sure that your teeth stay as straight as possible. A set of backup dental retainers is a cheap way to ensure your teeth don’t shift back to their old position if anything unexpected happens to your retainers.

Retainers after Goody Bands or Ortho Fill

Everyone wants to have a smile that lights up a room. For some people, that means straightening their teeth or correcting an over or underbite. For others, it means whitening their teeth to make their smile sparkle. Some people are lucky enough to have straight, white teeth but an unsightly gap can hold back their smile from being picture perfect. For closing a small gap, many people opt not to go with a dentist and save money by correcting their gap themselves. We have made many retainers for customers who have moved their teeth themselves using Goody Bands, Ortho Fill, or other orthodontic bands to close a gap between their two front teeth, otherwise known as diastema.

Using Bands

At Sporting Smiles, we always recommend having a dentist involved any time you are moving teeth. However, we understand that sometimes going through a dentist can be expensive. Not everyone has the spare cash to cover those costs. If you are using the bands to close your teeth, you will need to get a retainer after the gap has been closed. This is the same for any proper orthodontic procedure. It is necessary to hold the teeth in place and prevent them from shifting back into position. If you use Goody bands or other bands to close a gap and you don’t use a retainer afterward, the teeth will want to spring back to their original location. This is called elastic memory.

Custom Retainers

Upper + Lower Dental Retainers
Upper + Lower Dental Retainers

Our custom retainers are perfect for anyone who is looking to correct a front gap themselves and save money in the process. At a much lower cost than a retainer from a  dentist, you can get a snug, custom-fitted retainer. A custom-fitted retainer will preserve your newfound smile perfectly. Our retainers require taking an impression of your teeth with one of our Self Impression Kits and sending it into us. When taking a self-impression, you need to make sure that your teeth are in the position that you like. This means taking the impression once your teeth have shifted and the gap is completely closed. You can see how to take a proper impression in our video. Ensure that you do not have the bands on when taking the impression. If you do, the retainers will have the impression of the bands, making it fit poorly. While the retainer is being created, be sure to maintain the position of your teeth. Do not close the gap any further or let your teeth shift out of place.

Teeth Sensitivity or Pain After Teeth Whitening

A lot of people who try home teeth whitening for the first time are not sure what to expect. At Sporting Smiles, we often find that new customers are concerned when they experience some tooth sensitivity or gum pain after teeth whitening. It’s perfectly natural to have some teeth sensitivity or burning gums after teeth whitening. However, teeth whitening does not need to result in prolonged or severe discomfort. There are techniques and products that can help to reduce any sensitivity or pain after teeth whitening. Getting the perfect smile should not be a scary or unpleasant experience!

Teeth Whitening Techniques

Custom-Fitted Trays


Home Teeth WhiteningOne of the easiest ways to prevent discomfort is investing in custom fit whitening trays. The main source of discomfort when teeth whitening is overflowing gel getting onto the gums. Custom whitening trays help to keep the whitening gel away from the gums. Since the trays are custom-fitted, less whitening gel is needed as well, meaning that you save money in the long run. 

Quality Gel

The quality of the whitening gel that you use can have a major impact on your comfort. Gels made outside the USA may not be subject to the same regulations and therefore could contain chemicals that are harmful to the teeth and gums. Always buy quality gel that is made in the USA. There should be an MSDS sheet available for the whitening gel.

Correct Gel Amount

Custom-fitted trays are the most important factor in preventing gel overflow, but overfilling the tray, no matter how well it’s made, will always result in overflow. Overfilling is the most common cause of sensitivity and spotted, burning gums. When using custom whitening gel you want to use around .5ml per tray. However, this will vary depending on mouth size, so a little bit of trial and error may be necessary to get it just right. A small bead should be applied to the lower front of the tray.

Wipe Away Extra Gel

While testing out gel amounts to find the perfect fit for your mouth size, it is normal that you will get some gel on your gums. If any gel does get onto the gums, you want to wipe it away as quickly as possible. A Q-tip or tissue can be used.

Whitening Time

Another common cause of people experiencing discomfort or sensitivity after whitening is keeping the whitening trays in for too long. You only need to wear your trays for 10-15 mins. The gel loses its effectiveness after about 15 mins and any extra time will just increase your chance of getting gel onto your gums and causing a burning sensation.


There are some products available that can help to relieve pain or discomfort after whitening. Remineralization (remin) gel will help to relieve any “zing” or burning sensation on the teeth and gums. After whitening, you should always rinse and dry the whitening trays. The remin gel can then be placed in the whitening tray and used in the same way as the whitening gel. If you are still experiencing discomfort, there are lower-percentage whitening gels available. It will take longer to reach your desired whiteness, but will not cause as much tooth sensitivity.

If you have any questions at all about the teeth whitening process, feel free to get in touch with our team at [email protected].

Custom Whitening Tray Instructions

It’s perfectly natural to want to brighten up your smile with some teeth whitening. Whether your teeth have stained from those essential cups of coffee in the morning, or just yellowed slightly over time, a home whitening kit can quickly and easily bring your smile back to its natural, dazzling white. Custom whitening trays are the best solution for whitening your teeth. Be choosing to get a custom-fitted whitening tray, you have already taken the right first step toward reclaiming your smile. However, you want to make sure you are using them properly to maximize their effectiveness. That’s why we’ve put together this handy set of custom whitening tray instructions. 

Home Teeth Whitening
Sporting Smiles Home Teeth Whitening

One of the most common mistakes we come across is people using non-FDA approved gels from outside the USA. Using high-quality whitening gel that is made in the USA will guarantee that you are not damaging your teeth, and give you the most effective whitening experience. Stay away from whitening gel made in China. There is no FDA regulation on what they put in their gel and it can be ineffective by the time it reaches the USA due to the extreme temperature changes during overseas shipping. Good whitening gel should always have an MSDS sheet available.

Proper Whitening Tray Instructions

  1. To use the whitening trays, you should begin by thoroughly brushing your teeth. You don’t want any bits of food or plaque getting in the way of the whitening gel.
  2. Next, fill the whitening trays. You want to fill the lower front of the tray with a small bead of whitening gel. .5ml is typically enough, but that depends on your mouth size. It may take some trial and error to get the amount just right, as you want good coverage without any gel overflowing onto the gums.
  3. If any gel squeezes out of the trays you should wipe it off of the gums as quickly as possible using a Q-tip, tissue, or finger.
  4. You should keep the whitening trays in for about 10-15mins. After 15mins the whitening gel loses its effectiveness and may increase your chance of experiencing discomfort or sensitivity.
  5. While doing its thing the whitening gel will foam up a bit. Spit out any foam that is generated while whitening into the sink.
  6. After 10-15mins is up, rinse both your mouth and whitening trays out fully.
  7. Your whitening trays must be cleaned regularly with a soft bristle toothbrush on a flat surface. At least every two weeks a soak in cleaning solution should be done to keep the whitening trays fresh.

Only ever whiten your teeth once a day. Any more than that will not be effective and may cause discomfort or sensitivity. Your whitening gel should always be stored in a cool location and kept away from direct sunlight. After you reach your desired whiteness you can then stop whitening on a regular basis.

Custom Trays

The advantage of custom whitening trays and a home whitening kit is that you can do touch-ups at any time. Custom whitening trays can last for many years if properly cared for, giving you the ability to brighten your smile whenever you think it needs it. Whitening doesn’t need to be a time consuming process. Many people multitask and will whiten their teeth while they get ready and shower in the morning.

If you have any questions about custom whitening trays or how to use whitening gel please contact SportingSmiles with any questions.

Why Aren’t My Teeth Whitening?

Our home whitening kits are specifically designed to be easy to use, but we understand that for some first-time teeth whiteners it can sometimes be a little tricky. Many customers will come to us after trying an over the counter whitening kit and not seeing any results. There are a number of reasons that you might not see the results that you are expecting, but if properly used our custom whitening trays and gel will definitely give you the dazzling smile that you are looking for.

Home Teeth Whitening

Get Better Whitening Results

Quality of the Gel

Not all whitening gel is equal. You want to make sure you are using quality gel that is purchased from the USA and has an MSDS sheet (material safety data sheet). This shows a list of the ingredients and lets you know that it comes from a reputable source. Our gels are all of the highest quality, so with our kits, you can rest assured that you are getting only the best.

Storage conditions

Whitening gel is very susceptible to heat and direct sunlight. Prolonged exposure may render the gel completely ineffective. Before you received your whitening gel it might have been exposed to extreme heat while being shipped. Make sure that you are buying from a reputable seller who knows how the gel got to them from the manufacturer.

Teeth Shade

All teeth will whiten, but teeth have a natural color that they will max out at. Teeth with yellowing will be most receptive to whitening. Brown teeth will improve, but will likely not reach full white. Grey or purple teeth may not be receptive to whitening at all. When you see some celebrities with extremely white teeth they most likely have veneers on top of their natural teeth.

Life Span

Some whitening gels only have a shelf life of 6 months. The whitening gel might have been in a warehouse or in storage months before you received the gel. SportingSmiles whitening gel has a 2-year shelf life and is purchased every month directly from the manufacturer, to guarantee our customers that their gel is fresh and will not expire on them if they are using it regularly.


To maximize the effectiveness of whitening gel you want to use a custom made whitening tray with reservoirs. Custom-fitted trays with reservoirs will allow for maximum coverage with the least amount of gel wastage.

If you follow these instructions and use our custom trays and home whitening kit, you should begin to see results in no time! Once you get your smile up to the shade that you want it at, you can stop whitening. Touch-ups every now and then will be enough. If you have any questions on how to whiten your teeth at all then don’t hesitate to contact SportingSmiles.

What is the Difference Between Mouthguards?

It seems that a lot of people are somewhat confused about the term ‘mouthguards’, so we thought we would jump in and clear things up a bit. Mouthguards are thin but sturdy coverings that protect your teeth from damage. If you are athletic and participate in contact sports like basketball and hockey, you are probably already familiar with the athletic type of this dental protector. Other mouthguards protect your teeth and dental work against the damage caused by nighttime grinding.

Over the Counter Mouthguards

Army Mouthguard
US Army custom Mouthguard

Of course, not all mouth guards are created equal. Stock mouth guards are the types of devices that are pre-formed for the “average” wearer. They frequently mention gender and age to help the buyer find a guard that most closely fits the makeup of the oral cavity for which it is designed. Unfortunately, these types of guards are habitually very uncomfortable since there really is no average wearer. Every mouth is unique and the location of the teeth varies greatly, even between people of the same age, gender, and size. You have probably encountered one of these guards at some point in your life, and hopefully, it convinced you of the value of using a better mouthguard!


Most regular mouthguard users will feel the need to explore a more fitted mouthguard option, for both their comfort and a better level of performance. There are essentially two options in this category: the boil-and-bite mouthguard, or the custom-fitted mouthguard. You have probably seen boil-and-bite mouth protectors at the local sporting good stores. The thermoplastic material gets softened when immersed in hot water. The wearer then quickly removes the mouth guard from the hot water and inserts it into their mouth. Biting down, the guard molds to the surrounding teeth. You need to keep some pressure on this device until the process is complete. Do not exert too much pressure, or you may just bite through the plastic. As the material cools down, it largely maintains the shape of the mouth. Some nuances are impossible to capture with this technique though.

Custom Fitted Mouthguards

By far the best solution for the mouth guard wearer is the custom-fitted product. Custom-fitted mouthguards are made by taking an impression of your teeth using dental impression material. The impression is then used to cast the mouthguard. While you could go to a dentist for casting and pay a large sum of money in the process, why would you? Sporting Smiles has eliminated the middleman and allows you the same access to a professionally made custom mouth guard at a fraction of the price. We will send you an impression kit that you use to make a cast of your teeth. Instructions are included and the process is really very easy. Send the casting back to us and we will make your customized mouth guard.

We are confident that this guard is going to be the most comfortable you have ever worn. Find out more about this easy and inexpensive process by contacting us.

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How To Use Whitening Trays

Home Teeth WhiteningIf you have purchased one of our custom-fitted whitening trays or kits, then you have already made the right decision. There is no better way to get your smile sparkling than to use a whitening tray that optimizes your whitening gel. Our whitening trays are made to the highest standard with reservoirs that ensure the best whitening gel coverage with the least amount of overflow. Getting the most from your new whitening trays still means learning the proper technique for using them. We’ve put all the instructions in one place so that you can get the most out of your custom made whitening trays.

Whitening Instructions

  1. Firstly, you want to brush your teeth thoroughly before using the whitening kit. Any pieces of food or plaque will interfere with the whitening process and tarnish your results.
  2. Place a small bead of gel in the front lower tooth compartment of the whitening trays. You want to use about .5ml per tray as a rule of thumb, but this will vary depending on mouth size. It may take some trial and error to get the amount right, as you want to get the maximum amount of coverage without any gel overflow.
  3. Make sure that the teeth are dry. This is a trick that helps the whitening gel to be more effective. You can pat them dry with a piece of tissue.
  4. Place tray on the teeth. If there is any excess whitening gel coming into contact with the gums you want to remove this with your finger, a cloth, or a Q-tip. At this time the whitening gel will start to foam up. This is normal and some of the foam may require spitting to remove.
  5. You should only whiten for about 20 minutes once a day. After about 20 minutes the whitening gel loses its strength and continued use will do very little. Using the whitening kit for longer than 20 minutes may increase the risk of experiencing tooth sensitivity or a burning sensation.

Gel Quality

When whitening your teeth for the first time you can lighten them by several shades extremely quickly. After your teeth get moderately white, it takes longer to increase shade levels. Make sure that you have good quality gel that is fresh and hasn’t been exposed to heat or direct sunlight. Whitening gel can be exposed to heat or sunlight while being shipped from the manufacturer to the distributor, and while it’s being stored before being sold. Sporting Smiles sources its high-quality gel from suppliers that always transport their gel in the correct way, ensuring it makes it to you fresh and with a long lifespan ahead of it. To extend the life span of your whitening gel, storing it in a refrigerator is recommended.

Retainers After Orthodontic Bands

Most people assume that the only time you need to wear a retainer is after an orthodontic procedure, or if your dentist has prescribed one to prevent further shifting of your teeth. Some small gaps don’t require orthodontic procedures though and can be treated with Orthodontic bands. Orthodontic bands like Orthofill, Orthoband, and Ora-band are dental bands that are placed on the teeth to close the spaces between your teeth. These bands are worn at night and will slowly put pressure on the teeth to close the gap. There are different sizes of bands depending on the size of gap that you are trying to close. Wearing retainers after orthodontic bands is essential if you want to keep the changes that you’ve made. 

Proper Aftercare

Just because you are able to treat small gaps like these yourself doesn’t mean that you don’t need to follow up with proper aftercare. After the desired gap is closed, a dental retainer is required to maintain the current position of your teeth, just like after having braces removed. Failure to use a retainer could result in your teeth shifting back into their original position. Using orthodontic bands can be uncomfortable, so you don’t want to lose all the progress you’ve made!

Custom Means Comfort

SportingSmiles Impression Kit
SportingSmiles Impression Kit

At Sporting Smiles we make custom retainers using an impression that you send us after taking it with our self-impression kit. Custom retainers provide you with a snugger, more comfortable fit. A snugger fit means that your teeth stay exactly where you want them. From this impression, we fabricate Essix retainers. Essix retainers are slim, clear retainers that are non-intrusive and very effective. Our retainers are available as either single retainers or as upper and lower retainers

Act Fast

Upper & Lower Dental Retainers
Upper & Lower Dental Retainers

The retainers will not move your teeth further. They are just designed to prevent the teeth from moving back to their original location. You want to ensure that you take an impression of your teeth as soon as possible after you close any desired gaps. Be sure that you have removed all of the orthodontic bands before taking an impression. They will interfere with the molding process. Once you have sent us the impression, do not use the bands any further. Your teeth will shift and your retainer may not fit properly.

Orthodontic bands can be a great way to adjust small gaps in your teeth without the cost and hassle of full orthodontic procedures. However, failing to properly look after your new smile can result in all your efforts going to waste. Keep that new, winning smile just the way it is. Order yourself a retainer kit before you start out correcting those gaps.