Orthodontic retainers are devices used to prevent the teeth from shifting. They are commonly used after a dental treatment of moving or straightening the teeth has been completed. Teeth have an elastic memory and will want to move back to their original position, and dental retainers will prevent them from moving.
There is 2 different types of retainer material:
Hawley Retainer: Hawley retainers are made using orthodontic wire and acyclic to create the base. The downside of a Hawley retainer is that it is easily noticeable, difficult to speak with, and costly to be created. The advantage is that if the acrylic is broken or the wire is bent, it can be repaired.
Essix Retainers: Essix is a brand name of the retainer material. Essix retainers are made from a clear sheet of polypropylene that is vacuum or thermoformed over a dental model of your teeth. 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, minimal effect on speaking, and relatively inexpensive compared to Hawley retainers. This disadvantage is that they can’t be repaired if they crack.
Both types of retainers will prevent the teeth from shifting. When getting an Essix retainers confirm that genuine Essix material is used and request the Essix plus material if you have cracked your retainers in the past or grind your teeth at night.