Clear plastic retainers

We get a lot of questions about clear orthodontic retainers, so we wanted to put together a quick blog post all about them! From care to composition, we tried to cover everything you need to know about clear plastic retainers!

What are clear retainers made of?

Clear retainers are made of high-quality transparent plastic. If you want to get technical, they are made out of polypropylene or polyvinylchloride (PVC) material.

These retainers are officially called Essix retainers, but your orthodontist should know what you are talking about if you ask about a clear retainer.

How do I eat with my clear retainer?

You can take it out while you eat and drink! In fact, you should always remove your retainer when eating or drinking. It can break with the pressure of your bite, or food and liquid can get stuck between the plastic and your teeth.

Food and drink stuck between your retainer and your teeth can cause decay, bad breath, and a dirty-looking retainer. Try to clean your teeth after you eat to avoid this, and clean your retainer daily.

Speaking of cleaning your retainer…

How do I clean a clear retainer?

It sits in your mouth all day long and you can’t brush it with toothpaste. So how do you clean it?

Here are a few best practices when it comes to cleaning your clear plastic retainer:

  • Brush or rinse your retainer with warm water every time you eat
  • If you do brush your retainer, use a VERY soft toothbrush so you don’t scratch the clear plastic
  • Never brush your retainer with toothpaste—it can make it dull and scratch away the shine
  • Use a cotton swab or Q-Tip to clean in the corners and edges of your retainer
  • Soak your retainer in denture cleaner
  • Soak your retainer in vinegar once a week to kill any lingering germs if you’re worried about that

The easiest way to keep your retainer clean is to soak it in warm water when it isn’t in your mouth. That will keep it moist and loosen any lingering food pieces that are stuck to the surface.

Do clear plastic retainers straighten your teeth?

They can! It depends on what your orthodontist is trying to do.

They are most commonly used after braces to keep teeth from moving around as they settle into their new places. In this use case, the retainer doesn’t move the teeth but holds them in place.

Some orthodontists do use clear retainers to adjust teeth slightly. It might be easier, cheaper, or faster than using braces.

If you are using your retainer to keep your teeth straight after braces and you forget to wear it for a while, then it could be used to move your teeth back in the correct place. Talk to your orthodontist and they might recommend wearing your extra-tight retainer until your teeth adjust back.

Are Essix retainers the same thing as Invisalign?

Nope! Invisalign looks a lot like a clear plastic retainer, but they are a little different. Invisalign is made specifically to move your teeth into a new place, and Essix retainers are usually used to retain your smile.

You will get new Invisalign aligners every few weeks, but your clear retainer will stay with you for years, hopefully.

You can care for and clean them the same way. You can read more about Invisalign and retainers on our website.

Contact your orthodontist if you have questions about clear retainers!

As always, talk to your orthodontist and they will answer any questions you have about your teeth and orthodontic appliances.

Message us or give us a call if you are in the Las Vegas area and looking for an orthodontist!