How to Get a Replacement Retainer

Your dental retainer cracked, broke, or got misplaced. We get it, these things happen. Pets chew them. They get stepped on. Sometimes, you just forget where you put the thing. If you lost your retainer, you don’t want to put off getting a replacement retainer any longer than you have to. Your teeth can quickly start to shift without a retainer being worn regularly. If your retainer is cracked or broken, it is still best to continue to try to wear it if possible while ordering a new retainer and waiting for it to arrive.

You can get your replacement retainer in one of two ways:

Dentist or Orthodontist

The traditional way to replace a retainer is to go to your dentist or orthodontist. They will likely already have your impression and can make you a replacement retainer based on that. While this may seem like the more convenient option, the price of replacing a retainer through a dentist fluctuates greatly depending on location and even from dentist to dentist. This cost can be anywhere from $200 to $600 per retainer, making replacing your retainer a potentially expensive prospect.

Order Online

One way to remove the overhead costs from a replacement retainer is to go direct to the source by making your own impression and ordering a retainer from the same dental labs that dentists and orthodontists order from. You can order a self-impression kit online at, take your impression at home, and mail it directly into a dental lab to be created. This cuts out the middle man while still getting the same high-quality product. By going this route, upper and lower retainers cost only $95 with shipping included!

SportingSmiles Impression Kit
SportingSmiles Impression Kit

Not all broken retainers necessarily need to be replaced. If you have the Hawley model wire retainers, a dental lab might be able to repair them instead of replacing the retainer. This can be more cost effective, so it may well be worth checking before getting it replaced. Unfortunately, clear Essix-style retainers can’t be repaired when they are cracked.

Thankfully, using our service they are easy and cheap to replace. SportingSmiles offers the ability to reorder upper and lower retainers for $65 after the initial set has been ordered. This means that you can replace your retainer and get a backup for the next time something goes wrong, all for less than you would pay at a dentist’s office. Don’t put your smile in jeopardy and delay replacing your retainer until you can afford it. Get your impression kit today and get a replacement retainer made quickly and cheaply. Why not get a spare while you’re at it for the next mishap? Your smile is worth it!  

Mouthguard for Basketball – What do the NBA Pros Use?

Not many people know this, but basketball is the number one sport for maxillofacial injuries. The fast pace and aggressive nature of the sport means that players often make contact. Elbows often meet with heads while going for layups in the paint. At a professional level, players regularly put their personal safety on the line in the quest to be the greatest. This is why we are beginning to see more and more star NBA players wearing mouthguards. LeBron James and Stephen Curry protect their mouths and teeth with guards, among others. 

Curry MouthGuard

Basketball is more prone to facial injuries due to hand or elbow contact, or players colliding with each other. It is not uncommon for two athletes to fight for a rebound and take an elbow to the mouth. This can cause a tooth to break or even be fully knocked out. The cost of having a tooth repaired or replaced can range anywhere from $300 to $15,000 depending on the repair that has to be done and who is doing the repair. Wearing a custom-fitted mouthguard for basketball can minimize the damage or even prevent it fully. Sadly most basketball players will only start to wear a mouthguard after they have had a dental injury themselves or witnessed another player suffer from a dental injury. Wearing a mouthguard is a good first step, but getting the right mouthguard for basketball is important. 

Best Mouthguard for Basketball

NBA basketball players typically wear a 3mm Clear mouthguard that is custom made from an impression of their teeth. Custom made laboratory mouthguards are nothing like boil and bite mouthguards that are purchased at a sporting goods store. These mouthguards are made by taking a dental impression which is then sent to a dental lab who will manufacture the mouthguard. This customization process means that these mouthguards are extremely comfortable and do not affect breathing or communication with other teammates. The fit of a custom mouthguard will snap onto your teeth and provide more protection than a boil and bite guard. This level of optimization is essential for professionals to perform at their best, and their teams spend a lot to ensure that their mouths are properly protected.

At SportingSmiles, we recommend wearing a mouthguard as soon as you have all of your permanent teeth. Wearing a mouthguard should be a standard part of your equipment not only during games but during practice as well. With our customization service, we offer access to professional-level custom fit mouthguards at a price that isn’t just for professional NBA players. Get the protection of a professional mouthguard and enjoy the performance benefits as well, all for a cost that is well worth it given how long a good custom mouthguard can last you. A properly cared-for custom mouthguard should last many years and will give you the maximum protection available. Don’t wait until you experience a dental injury on the court yourself. Invest in your smile and get a customized mouthguard today.

Is There a Difference Between Retainers and Invisalign?

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 there 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.

Essix Retainers

Upper & Lower Dental Retainers
Upper & Lower Dental Retainers

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  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.

5 Signs You Might be Grinding Your Teeth

Being aware of an unconscious habit can be difficult at the best of times. That gets even harder if its a habit that you do in your sleep. Studies have shown that up to 25% of all people do some teeth grinding at night. Approximately 8% of adults experience regular teeth grinding, or ‘bruxism’. Teeth grinding normally only happens at night and most people have no idea that they grind their teeth until their dentist tells them, or if they start to experience jaw pain in the morning. There are several telltale teeth grinding signs. Read on to learn more!


Teeth Grinding Signs

Grinding sounds at night while sleeping.

If you live with a partner and they hear grinding sounds coming from your side of the bed at night, it’s possible that you are grinding your teeth in your sleep.

Jaw pain in the morning, which can cause headaches.

If you regularly wake up with a tense or painful jaw, often accompanied by headaches, then you may be clenching or grinding your teeth.

Flat or worn down teeth. Even cracked teeth.

If you regularly visit your dentist then they will likely pick up on this before you notice it. However, if you feel like you are noticing a flattening of your teeth or wake up with a crack in your teeth that was not there the night before, you should ask your dentist for a diagnosis.

Sores on the inside of the mouth.

The friction of regular teeth grinding can sometimes result in sores or blisters on the inside of your mouth. Mouth sores can be related to a number of issues, but if accompanied with one of the other symptoms then you might be grinding your teeth.

Sensitive teeth.

Grinding teeth can result in wearing away the enamel that protects your teeth from decay and changes in temperature. This can cause your teeth to become sensitive, making eating hot or cold foods more difficult. Again, tooth sensitivity can be related to a wide variety of dental issues but, in conjunction with other symptoms, it may be indicative of teeth grinding.

Night Guard
Hard Flexible Bruxism Teeth Grinding Guard

If you feel like you are experiencing bruxism then the first thing you should do is visit your dentist. They can evaluate you further and give you a clear diagnosis. They will also be able to tell you what severity level of teeth grinding you are experiencing. This is an important factor in determining which type of night guard is right for you. Some materials are better suited to heavy grinding. Other will be less intrusive but only strong enough to withstand milder grinding.

The first step in preventing teeth grinding damage is to get a professionally fitted teeth grinding guard. A night guard is designed to take the force of grinding or clenching instead of damaging your teeth and causing the symptoms listed above. The guard protects the teeth and will normally solve most people’s issues. Below is an example of a teeth grinding guard that we provide on our website.

Whitening Gel Reservoirs – Why are They Important?

Investing in custom whitening trays is essential to getting the best whitening experience. However, there are still some ways to get more for your money. Not all custom whitening trays are the same quality though. Spending money on a lower-quality custom tray can be as effective as just getting one over the counter. They might be made of similar materials, but there are small differences that can make them more comfortable and effective. One of the key differentiating factors is whether or not your tray has whitening gel reservoirs.

What are Gel Reservoirs?

Home Teeth Whitening
Sporting Smiles Home Teeth Whitening

Reservoirs are small pockets that are inside the whitening trays on the front, which sit up against the tooth’s surface. These reservoirs allow more room for the whitening gel to come into contact with the teeth. The whitening gel will naturally expand as it whitens the teeth, filling up the gaps and putting pressure on the trays. The reservoirs allow for the expansion of the whitening gel without the trays pulling away from your teeth. This provides a more even, effective whitening process that will maximize your whitening gel usage and save you money in the long run.

Other Things to Look For

Another key factor is the material that the trays are constructed from. If a low-quality material is used to create the whitening trays, then your trays can yellow quickly. All materials will yellow in time, but low-quality material will yellow significantly faster. Yellowing will cause make the trays less effective and will mean that they need to be replaced. It can also cause the trays to become brittle, making them more susceptible to cracking or breakages. All trays will yellow eventually though. This process can be prevented for as long as possible by using a good cleaning product like Fresh Guard by Efferdent. Fresh Guard is specifically formulated to prevent yellowing without damaging the whitening trays.

Finally, the small details of the construction process can really make a difference in your experience when using the trays. The way the whitening trays are trimmed greatly affects the comfort of the whitening trays when they are in your mouth. Little molding lines or trim defects can become uncomfortable over time. If the whitening trays are just trimmed straight across and don’t follow the contours of the teeth, it allows the bleaching gel to come into contact with the gums. When this happens, you can experience a burning sensation on the gums. Less of the gel will come in contact with the teeth as well, reducing the effectiveness.

Do Your Research

Deciding to invest in custom fit whitening trays is the right decision. But it is worth doing some research to ensure that you are getting the quality that you have paid for. At SportingSmiles, we use only the best dental labs to create our whitening trays, meaning that you can rest assured that you will have the perfect fit. If you have any questions at all about what you should be looking for in your custom whitening trays, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team at [email protected].

5 Ways to Prevent Dental Retainers from Breaking

Do you find that your clear retainers are often cracking or breaking? Even with a low-cost provider like SportingSmiles, regularly replacing retainers that are supposed to last you several years can quickly become an unwanted expense. Learning some techniques to prevent dental retainers from breaking can save you lots of money in the long run. 

Prevent Retainers breakingOne of the few downsides of Essix retainers is that they are fragile and can easily break if not properly cared for. The most common reason retainers break is improper removal. The second most common way in which retainers are broken is improper handling while cleaning. However, if you read our guide and properly care for your Essix retainer, you should be able to get well over 2 years of use out of it.

5 Ways to Prevent Dental Retainers from Breaking

Get Essix Plus Retainers

Essix Plus retainers are made from a material that is two times stronger than standard Essix retainers and the same thickness. If you find yourself regularly breaking your retainer by accidentally damaging it, then it may well be worth investing in an Essix Plus retainer.

Remove Correctly

Incorrect removal can put unnecessary strain on your retainer that will eventually lead to cracking or breaking if not corrected. To correctly remove your retainer, use one finger on each side to prevent flexing and twisting as you pull the retainer out of your mouth. Once removed, either cup gently and clean or directly place the retainer into its container.

Support During Cleaning

Holding the retainer incorrectly during the cleaning process is another easy way to put stress on your retainer. When brushing the retainer, you don’t want to hold on to one side and brush the other side, as this will create uneven pressure and flexing. You want to support the retainer in your hand or on a towel when brushing, ensuring that the pressure is applied evenly throughout.

Clean Correctly

Improper cleaning technique can serve to weaken the material of your retainer. This makes it easier for it to perish and crack over time. Using an alcohol-based mouthwash to clean your retainers should always be avoided. The alcohol in mouthwash will dry out and damage the retainers. We recommend using Freshguard when cleaning your retainers. We have a video on youtube showing how this is done.


When not in use, your retainers should always be stored correctly to protect against damage. The storage case is designed to protect the retainer from environmental damage, as well as any accidental impact or hungry pets. Even when in the case though, remember to keep the retainers well out of reach of pets. They love retainers, and sometimes they will chew through the case just to get to them!

Upper + Lower Dental Retainers
Upper + Lower Dental Retainers

With the proper care and attention, your retainer can last for many years. However, we understand that sometimes life happens and unavoidable damage to your retainer can occur. That’s why we have worked hard to bring down the price of retainers, and offer discounts on a second pair. We think that you should always have a replacement ready to go while you wait for your new set. If your retainers have broken, please visit for a replacement.

Essix Retainers Frequently Asked Questions

Our customers often ask us about the clear Essix retainers that we stock. We understand, there are several options out there and a lot of confusing terms to get to grips with. We thought we would clear things up a little and put together a list of our most frequently asked questions to help you out.

Essix Retainers FAQ

What is the difference between Hawley retainers and Essix retainers?

Hawley Retainer

Hawley retainers are the older style of retainer. They are made from acrylic and use orthodontic wire to maintain the position of the teeth. They can be adjusted by a dentist, which makes them more adaptable, but they are much less comfortable and can cause issues with speech. Essix style retainers are clear and are molded to fit the teeth exactly and hold them in place. The material that Essix retainers are made from is similar to the material used with Invisalign. They are thin, less intrusive, and much cheaper to replace.

How do I clean my retainer?

After carefully removing the retainers with both hands you want to rinse them under warm, not hot water. Then clean them with a soft bristle toothbrush with nonabrasive toothpaste, ensuring that you use even pressure and support the entire retainer to avoid twisting. For a deep clean we recommend using Fresh Guard and follow the instructions.

If my retainer cracks can it be repaired?

Yes and no. If you have an acrylic Hawley retainer it can be repaired. If you have a clear Essix retainer it will have to be replaced. However, with Sporting Smiles, replacing your Essix retainer is discounted as long as we still have your impression on file.

Will retainers straighten my teeth?

Retainers will not straighten your teeth. They will prevent them from shifting any further or keep them in place after you have straightened them through an orthodontic procedure.

I have a permanent fixed retainer. Can I still get an Essix retainer?

Yes, an Essix retainer can still be made if you have a permanent retainer bonded on your teeth. The Impression process is exactly the same. During creation, dental lab technicians will block out the area where the wire is bonded.

How do I remove my retainers?

You want to use two hands when removing the retainers to ensure that you don’t twist them. Retainers are most likely to be broken while being removed. Twisting them will place unnecessary tension on the retainer and can lead to cracking.

My Essix retainers are getting yellow. What can be done?

Some of our customers report having good luck removing the yellowing by user Retainer Brite. All clear retainers will naturally yellow over time, but if you follow our instructions and properly care for your retainer, you should get between 2-6 years of use from it.

What is the cost of an Essix Retainer?

The price of retainers varies depending on the dentist and the area of the country. We have seen prices from $300 – $650 for upper and lower retainers. We current sell upper and lower for $95 with shipping included.

If my retainer cracks or is lost can I get a replacement?

Most dentists do not keep the impressions on file. They will make you go through the whole impression process again and charge standard pricing. With Sporting Smiles retainers, we keep your impressions on file for 1 year after the reorder date, so our replacement retainers are discounted 30%.

What are Dental Retainers Made From?

Orthodontic retainers are devices used to prevent the teeth from shifting. They are commonly used after an orthodontic treatment of moving or straightening the teeth has been completed. 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. It’s very important that a retainer is employed regularly and for the prescribed time to ensure that the adjustments remain permanent.

There are several different options available to choose from when it comes to a retainer, but there are essentially two main types of material that are used in their construction: acrylic and wire, or flexible polypropylene. It also happens to be that each material is associated with a distinct style of retainer. Acrylic and wire are the materials used to make the Hawley retainer model, and polypropylene is used to create the Essix retainer models.

Hawley Retainers

Hawley retainers are made using orthodontic wire and acrylic to create the base. The wires are attached 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. If the acrylic is broken or the wire is bent, it can sometimes be repaired. The wires can also be adjusted, so a dentist can make changes to the retainer if it requires minor adjustments for comfort.

Hawley Retainer

Essix Retainers

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 is used in the Invisalign system. Essix retainers can be made from Essix ACE or Essix Plus material. The advantage of Essix 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. This disadvantage is that they can’t be repaired if they crack. However, once a model has been made of your teeth, Sporting Smiles keeps it for a year after your initial order and offers spare sets or replacements at a discount.

Upper & Lower Dental Retainers
Upper and Lower Retainers

Both types of retainers will prevent the teeth from shifting after an orthodontic procedure. Be sure to confirm that genuine Essix material is used 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.