Updated on

Essix Retainer: Everything You Need to Know for After Braces

Disclosure: Links on this site may receive a commission, this does not affect the price you pay and help us cover the costs of running this website.

An Essix retainer is a product made out of clear plastic that works to retain your smile after orthodontic treatment. Most people prefer this type of retainer as they are virtually invisible and are known to provide the ideal results most people yearn for.

With many retainer options available for your choosing, you may have a daunting experience trying to pick and settle on a particular type of retainer. This post takes you through all you need to know about the Essix retainer, highlighting the key considerations and assisting you in making a more informed decision.

What is Essix Retainer?

An Essix retainer is a removable retainer made from clear, BPA-free plastic. This is one of the most popular retainers as it provides the freedom and confidence you may not get from standard retainers.

Digital image of the upper mouth and below it an essix retainer. The background is black.

For starters, they are removable, meaning you can put them on and take them off at your convenience. Moreover, they are clear, giving you the freedom to wear them without worrying that someone will notice. Their clarity can be compared to Vivera retainers, which are made by Invisalign.

Essentially, Essix retainers are a plastic mold that fits perfectly over your teeth without causing pain or discomfort. They are used for stopping your teeth from moving out of their new positions (also referred to as a relapse). Users have the option to choose between getting both upper or lower sets or both. Essix retainers are some of the most affordable clear teeth retainers, which offer great value for money.

How Much Do Essix Retainers Cost?

The cost of Essix retainers is anywhere between $100 to $500 for a full set of retainers. This places them as some of the most affordable sets of retainers, popular with orthodontic patients.

The precise Essix retainer cost depends on several factors, including your specific case, your orthodontist, and the location of your treatment. The product is likely more expensive in a more urban or fancy setting. Besides, depending on where you get the retainers, there may be other associated costs, such as lab costs which may eventually raise the price of your Essix retainers.

An Essix retainer is built to last long if properly taken care of. Most of them can go up to five years before you have to replace them with a new one. Although some dentists may offer you several sets of retainers, you may have to schedule a separate office visit for your next set of retainers if not given at once, which eventually spells out more costs.

It would be prudent to note that Essix retainers degrade over continuous use over time, especially if you are a nighttime tooth grinder. Moreover, it might also snap or break. Due to this, you may have to factor in these when working out the total cost of your retainers.

An Essix retainer with tooth cost isn’t that high either way. Continue reading to discover how an Essix retainer with tooth can help you.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Essix Retainers

Essix retainers have withstood the test of time, gaining popularity thanks to their freedom and convenience. However, it is always advisable to have a closer look at both sides of the coin before settling on anything, more so something that will determine how your smile looks in the long run.

Here are the top benefits and drawbacks of using Essix retainers to help you in your decision-making process:

Pros of Essix Retainers

Cons of Essix Retainers

It would be prudent to note that, just like with all types of retainers, it might be a little challenging to speak during the first few days of using Essix retainers. However, this won’t be a long-term concern as you eventually get used.

Moreover, while it may be a little challenging to repair a damaged Essix retainer, knowing how to fix a cracked retainer can help you in the long run.

How to Clean Essix Retainer?

Cleaning your Essix retainer is vital for your personal oral health. Cleaning your retainer might be easy, but if not done correctly, it will have the same detrimental effects as someone that has not cleaned them.

So, do you know how to clean retainers?

When cleaning a clear removable retainer, regardless of the brand, it is vital only to use cold water, as hot water can warp the plastic, rendering it useless.

Here’s how to clean an Essix retainer in two ways:

Day-to-day cleaning

Although you need to clean your Essix retainers every day, you shouldn’t worry so much about it as it is a relatively simple process. Here’s a quick overview of what to do:

  1. Remove the retainer and brush it using dish soap.
  2. Rinse with cold water.
  3. Dry it off and pop it back in your mouth.

Yes, it’s that easy! Ensure to use only dish soap when brushing off any plaque. Stay away from toothpaste as it may damage your clear Essix retainer.

Deep cleaning

Deep cleaning your Essix retainers can take a little more time than regular daily cleaning. This is because you have to consider every aspect of the product and remove any stubborn stains or plaque build-up.

Failure to conduct deep cleaning on your Essix retainers once in a few days could lead to detrimental consequences, such as:

So, how does one go about deep cleaning an Essix retainer?

  1. Remove the retainer and brush it lightly to remove plaque, as you would with daily cleaning.
  2. Place the retainer in a glass of cool water and add one or two retainer cleaning tablets. You can also use any retainer cleaning solutions which you can get from your orthodontist.
  3. Rinse after the fizzing stops if using the tablets. Depending on the cleaning solution you’re using, you may have to wait a few minutes before taking out the retainers.
  4. Brush out any leftover tablets or visible Essix retainer cleaner and rinse.

How Long Do Essix Retainers Last?

Essix retainers have an average lifespan of one to three years. With proper care, some users have reportedly had their Essix retainers for up to five years without replacing them. In this case, an Essix retainer’s lifespan generally depends on how you take care of it.

Retainers help prevent the relapse of your teeth following orthodontic treatment. Without wearing a retainer, your teeth may gradually shift back to where they were before you began the treatment. Essix retainers have been instrumental in the dental scene as they have helped quite a multitude to keep and maintain their new-found smiles.

Here are a few Essix retainer before and after images to give you better clarity on what to expect.

Essix vs Hawley Retainer

For many years, only the Hawley retainer was known to be the ‘only’ option after the use of braces, especially on teenagers. A Hawley retainer is characterized by fun-colored plastic (hard plastic acrylic plate) connected to a single thin wire across the top front teeth. They are fitted on the roof of your mouth as the metal wire settles at the front of your top teeth.

One of the reasons why the Hawley retainer is popular among the younger generation is that it is more visible, and the chances of losing them are lower compared to using Essix retainers. Fortunately, there are a number of things that you can do in case you have lost retainers.

The Hawley retainer is still in use to date, but which of the two is best for your needs?

To help you with your decision, here are a few notable differences to consider:

Essix retainer vs Hawley shows they are clear and virtually invisible unless someone gets very close to the wearer.They can come in various colors and tend to show more. They are easily noticeable.
Designed to comfortably fit each row of your teeth resulting in a ‘snap’ when put on. However, one is not able to completely bite down their teeth as the retainer comes in between, which may be a little uncomfortable.Hawley retainer vs Essix indicates that the former allows you to fully close your mouth without damaging the retainer, which is also quite comfortable. However, users generally feel the bulkiness in their mouths, especially within the initial stages, which is quite uncomfortable.
Essix retainers have a short lifespan, which can be lengthened through proper care.Hawley retainers tend to last much longer due to their sturdy materials. When comparing Hawley vs Essix retainer, the former can last longer and is more suitable for younger users.
They are more difficult to repair in case of damage, and you may need to get a new one instead.In case of damage, they are much easier to repair. They are more difficult to repair in case of damage, and you may need to get a new one instead.

Essix Retainer with Fake Tooth

For someone that has undergone orthodontic treatment to align their teeth but still has some missing teeth and do not wish to replace them, using the Essix retainer with fake tooth might just have the answers to what you’re looking for.

When one has a missing tooth, these retainers “replace” the missing tooth with a tooth painted on the retainer. Even though there isn’t an actual replacement of the tooth, it appears from the outside that the person’s missing teeth have been replaced whenever they put on the retainer.

Nevertheless, it should be noted that this type of retainer does not, in any way, replace the functionality of a tooth. Different providers have different Essix retainer with fake tooth cost, so it would be advisable first to consult with your dentist on the precise price.

You can have a look at some before and after Essix retainer with tooth images online and see the transformation the people go through.


Can Essix retainer move teeth back?

The work of a retainer is to “retain” the teeth in their new position and not to move them in any direction. Essix retainers are designed to maintain the new position of your teeth, hence are not made to move your teeth back.

Can Essix retainers be adjusted?

Essix retainers can be adjusted only by a dentist. However, you may receive several sets of retainer that you can use whenever the previous set requires adjustment.

Are Essix retainers expensive?

Essix retainers are some of the most affordable retainers in the market and cost anywhere between $100 and $500.

Are Essix retainers comfortable?

Essix retainers are comfortable, but new users may experience some discomfort within the first few times when they put them on.

What to do if your Essix retainer doesn't fit?

When your Essix retainer no longer fits, take it back to your orthodontist for proper adjustment or a replacement.

Get our best Deals

Subscribe to our email list to get the lastest updates for your smile

(*) We promise we will never spam you

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Susan

    Can you use retainer cleaning tablets when you have fake teeth built into the Essix appliance? Thank you!

    1. The Teeth Blog Team

      Hello, Susan.

      If your Essix appliance have fake teeth, you can opt to cleaning it with denture cleaners.

      Hope this helps!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.