This is a hard questions to answer. There is many factors that go in to determining how long the retainer will last.
Care for Retainer- Essix style retainers can yellow in time if they are not cleaned on a regular basis. To prevent your retainers we recommend using a quality cleaning product like fresh guard twice a week. A cleaner will remove all the bacteria and keep your retainers from yellowing and becoming brittle.
Properly taking the retainer off- The most common way for your retainers to break is when you are removing them. When removing the retainers you want to use two hands and put equal pressure on both sides of the retainer. If you only grab from one side of the retainers it will twist the retainer this can cause it to break. There is no way to repair an Essix retainer after it has cracked, they will need to be replaced.
Material used to make retainer- There is a few different brand for clear retainers. At SportingSmiles we use only genuine Essix material. Essix retainers can be made from standard Essix material or from there Essix Plus material. The Essix Plus is a stronger material and will hold up better than the standard material.
Tooth Structure- Everyone’s tooth structure is different. If there is a gap between the teeth this can be weak point for the retainers. You want to be extra careful when removing the retainer if you have a gap between your teeth.
Teeth Grinding- Retainers are not designed to take the stress from teeth grinding or clenching. Teeth grinding can shorten the life span of the retainer significantly. If you are a teeth grinding you might want to upgrade to the Essix Plus material, It will handle the force that teeth grinding puts on the retainer better than the standard Essix material.
We have had many customers who have had their Essix retainers for 5+ years. Taking good care of the retainers will extend their life span. It is also a good idea to have a backup set in case, they crack. Visit our site at SportingSmiles.com for more information on replacement retainers.
Invisalign is designed to move and straighten the teeth in small stages. With Invisalign you typically will have sets of clear aligners that you wear for two weeks at a time then go on to the next set of aligners. This process slowly puts pressure on the teeth moving them to there new position. The amount of aligners 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 straighten, a set of retainers are required to prevent the teeth from going back to their original location.
Clear Essix retainers and designed just to prevent the teeth from shifting. Retainers will not move or straighten you teeth, they will prevent them from shifting further. Retainers are made using 1mm clear essix material the same as Invisalign.
Both Essix retainers and invisalign are made from the same material and are cleaned and taken care for the same. Retainers can last for many years while the invislign aligners are designed to only be used for a short period of time.
One of the downsides of Essix retainers are 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 time retainers are broken is when they are being cleaned.
5 Ways to prevent Dental Retainers from breaking.
Get Essix Plus Retainers– They are two times stronger than standard essix retainers and the same thickness.
Remove Correctly– You want to use one finger on each side when removing the retainers to prevent flexing and twisting the retainers.
Support During Cleaning- When brushing the retainers you don’t want to hold on to one side and brush the other side. You want to support the retainers in your hand or on a towel when brushing the retainers.
Clean Correctly– You do not want to use alcohol based mouthwash with retainers. The alcohol in retainers 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.
Storage– You want to store your retainers in a case when not in use. You also what to keep away from pets. Dogs are known to eat retainers.
If you properly take care of your retainers they can last for many years. If you retainers have broken please visit SportingSmiles.com for a replacement.