Your orthodontic treatment is over and you have achieved a perfect smile that you always wanted. But good things don’t come that easily.

To maintain this perfect smile, your orthodontist will now provide you with an appliance called the retainer.

The primary function of a retainer is to keep the position of the teeth intact soon after orthodontic treatment.

Nowadays, one of the most popular choices for retainers is invisible or clear retainers. Clear retainers are made up of thin plastic sheets and are virtually invisible.

But it is vital to understand the advantages and disadvantages of invisible retainers before you go for them.

What is a retainer?

A retainer is a passive orthodontic appliance that helps in maintaining and stabilizing the position of teeth after the active phase of orthodontic treatment is over.

The duration that you may have to wear a retainer depends on the reasons for which you underwent orthodontic treatment.

This can range from wearing retainer only at night time to wearing throughout the day for the rest of your life.

Retainers are mainly of two types as removable and permanent. Your orthodontist will advise you the best and suitable retainer for you based on the orthodontic treatment that you underwent.

Let’s take a quick look at the different types of retainers that are available –

TYPEPermanentRemovable (Hawley)Removable (clear plastic retainer)
COST225$-550$ for one arch150$-340$ for one unit

Essix and Zendura retainers: 100$-300$ for one

Vivera retainer: 400$-1200$ per set (usually come in a set of 4)

MATERIALMetal wire (copper, nickel, titanium or combination)Plastic or acrylic with metal wirePlastic or polyurethane sheets

 

What is a clear retainer?

A clear retainer is a removable retainer which is made from a thin and clear thermoplastic sheet. Its design is similar to a mouth guard.

The plastic sheet is molded over a cast of the newly positioned teeth so that it fits snugly over the teeth and prevents relapse. An impression of your mouth is taken to create this cast.

There are 3 familiar brands of clear retainers available – Vivera, Essix, and Zendura.

Clear retainers maintain the intended position of your teeth after the orthodontic treatment is over. They may even provide minor corrections to slightly misaligned teeth. (1)

Why clear retainers may be the right choice for you?

Clear retainers are fast becoming a popular choice for retainers, especially among young adults. The advantages of going with clear retainers are – (2)

  1. It is made from transparent plastic sheets and hence, virtually invisible. It makes it more likely that you will wear it regularly and so chances of relapse are meager.
  2. It is less bulky and maybe more comfortable than other retainers.
  3. The design of this retainer makes it cover only the teeth and some part of the gums, leaving the palate untouched. So, your speech is less likely to get affected, and you won’t have to talk with a lisp. (3)
  4. It is easily removable, making it easy for you to maintain your oral hygiene routine. (4)
  5. It is quite effortless to clean this type of retainers.

Why clear retainers may not be the right choice for you?

As with any retainer, clear retainers also come with its own set of disadvantages.

  1. You may have to go for a new retainer if it cracks, breaks or needs realignment. This can be a costly affair for you.
  2. A clear retainer can warp or distort if exposed to heat.
  3. Clear retainers tend to discolor with time.
  4. If you are wearing this retainer, then it can shift your bite slightly as the upper and lower teeth are not touching.
  5. Invisible retainers can trap liquids and food debris and cause cavities.

How to take care of your clear retainer?

Your clear retainer is made from plastic sheets which are porous. So, it tends to get discolored with time.

It is essential to keep clear retainers clean so that you find easy and comfortable while wearing them. Here are some tips to help you keep your clear retainer in good shape –

  • Rinse your retainers regularly with warm or regular water.
  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and mild dish cleaner to scrub the insides of the retainer.
  • Never use toothpaste to clean your retainer as the abrasive nature of the toothpaste will scratch the surface of your retainer. If you want, you can use fluoridated toothpaste only for cleaning your retainers. (5)
  • Scrub your retainer with baking soda and water if you want to get rid of any bad odor.
  • You should be very careful not to expose your clear retainer to hot temperatures. It should not be exposed to intense sunlight and hot water or beverages as it could melt and distort the retainer.
  • Always remember to remove your retainer while eating. It could trap food debris against your tooth surface which could lead to plaque build-up on the surface of the retainer.
  • Make sure to keep your retainer in its provided case when you are not wearing it, to not break or lose it.

Over to you

Clear retainers are fast becoming the retainer of choice amongst young adults due to their ease of use, enhanced aesthetics, and accurate fit.

But they do come with their own set of limitations. It can crack under heavy grinding or clenching forces and distort in hot temperatures.

Your orthodontist is the best person to decide whether clear retainers are the best choice for you or not.

They will decide on the basis of why you needed orthodontic treatment in the first place and eventually the success of the procedure.

It is imperative to follow your orthodontist’s instructions strictly regarding the use of clear retainers.

It will help in preventing relapse or failure of your orthodontic treatment, and you can easily maintain that perfect smile you achieved painstakingly.

A retainer is a passive orthodontic appliance that helps in maintaining and stabilizing the position of teeth after the active phase of orthodontic treatment is over.