Essix vs. Hawley Retainer: Which is Best?

After years of orthodontia, it’s an amazing feeling when you finally get your braces off. It’s time to celebrate, eat popcorn, chew gum, and enjoy your beautiful new smile. But although your smile might be perfect now, you need to practice ongoing orthodontal care to keep your teeth in place long-term.

For most people, ongoing orthodontia means wearing a retainer at night to keep teeth in place. Wearing a retainer may be a lifelong commitment, so it’s important to make sure you have the right retainer to satisfy your needs. There are many retainer varieties to choose from, and deciding which one is right for you entails understanding your specific requirements and lifestyle preferences. Essix retainers and Hawley retainers are two of the most common options available, and both offer unique benefits to wearers.

Can’t decide which retainer is right for you? We’ve compiled a comprehensive guide to help you select the perfect fit.

What are Hawley Retainers?

When you picture a retainer floating in a glass of denture cleaner, you’re probably thinking of a Hawley retainer. Developed by Dr. Charles Hawley in 1908, Hawley retainers are sturdy, reliable, and easy to use.

Hawley retainers are made from a strong acrylic base that serves as an anchor point for flexible metal wires. The acrylic base of a Hawley retainer sits flush with the palette, and the wires extend to clip around teeth, holding them securely in place. Because the wire is pliable, Hawley retainers may be adjusted to accommodate shifts in the teeth or jaw.

The Pros of Hawley Retainers

There’s a reason that Hawley retainers have been a popular choice for so many years. They offer stability and consistent results.

Some of the pros of Hawley retainers include:

  • Durability – Since they are made from a durable acrylic material, Hawley retainers are built to last. The acrylic base is virtually indestructible, and Hawley retainers can be cleaned by using a toothbrush and toothpaste without fear of scratching or damaging the appliance.
  • Customizability – Hawley retainers are a popular choice for individuals who want to add a little sparkle to their dental appliance. The acrylic base is available in a wide array of colors and patterns, with the option to add glitter or stickers into the mixture. Because they are customizable, Hawley retainers are a popular choice for kids.
  • Removability – Unlike permanent retainers, Hawley retainers are easy to pop in and out of the mouth. This makes them easy to clean and offers versatility in a variety of situations.

The Cons of Hawley Retainers

Despite their strong performance, there are a few considerations to take into account before purchasing a Hawley retainer.

  • They Are Appealing Chew Toys – Hawley retainers have long been a favorite among naughty canine companions. If you invest in a Hawley retainer, make sure you keep it out of your dog’s reach.
  • They Aren’t Discreet – Due to their design features, Hawley retainers are highly visible in the mouth. The metal wires that hook around the front teeth are conspicuous and may draw attention to the fact that you’re wearing a retainer. Additionally, because Hawley retainers need to rest against the palette, they have a greater impact on speech.
  • They Are More Expensive – Traditional Hawley retainers are much more costly than alternatives like Essix retainers. Although the expense is partially offset by their durability, replacing a Hawley retainer might cost a few hundred dollars, so keeping them in a safe place is crucial.

What are Essix Retainers?

Essix retainers are clear vinyl appliances designed to fit completely over the teeth. They are made by taking a dental impression and using the mold to create a flexible, removable, vinyl retainer. This process is similar to the method used to fashion nightguards and mouthguards.

Essix retainers are well-regarded for their precision. Because they are fashioned from a dental impression, they retain tooth alignment with the most accuracy.

The Pros of Essix Retainers

Essix retainers are a popular choice for patients seeking an effective, discreet, and affordable alternative.

  • Efficacy – Essix retainers have the best track record when it comes to keeping teeth in place. Because they are designed to fit snugly around teeth, they are excellent at preventing movement over time.
  • Discreet Wearability – Because they are made from a thin layer of clear vinyl, Essix retainers are virtually invisible. This makes them an appealing choice for patients who need to wear their retainers during the day as well as at night. Plus, since they are easy to remove, Essix retainers can be taken out and stored in a safe place when not in use.
  • Affordability – Essix retainers tend to be more affordable than other options. Because the manufacturing process is so simple, it’s easy to craft custom appliances at a fraction of the cost.

The Cons of Essix Retainers

Despite their precision and wearability, here are a few drawbacks to take into consideration before purchasing an Essix retainer.

  • They Are Easily Damaged – Because they are so flexible and lightweight, Essix retainers are more prone to wear and tear. Essix retainers may be scratched or damaged by toothpaste, and should be gently cleaned using an appropriate dental cleaning solution. In general, Essix retainers typically need to be replaced every few years, so although they are more cost-effective initially, the replacement fees may add up.
  • They Can Influence Your Bite – Unlike Hawley retainers that preserve a normal bite, Essix retainers introduce a thin layer of plastic in-between teeth. Over time, this layer may impact jaw and bite precision, and expose the retainer to damage from grinding or clenching teeth.

Continuing Your Orthodontal Journey with Dental Lab Direct

At Dental Lab Direct, we provide our clients with high-quality dental appliances delivered straight to your door. Dental Lab Direct is an online dental appliance service, crafting custom retainers, bite-guards, dentures, and more, using only the highest-quality FDA approved materials.

We know that going to the dentist is an unpleasant prospect, so DLD’s three step ordering process is designed with your comfort in mind. After receiving a Dental Lab Direct impression kit in the mail, the next step is to make an impression of your teeth in the comfort of your home. Once you’ve mailed your completed impression kit back to us, all you need to do is kick back and relax and wait for your custom retainer to arrive in a few weeks. Our affordable options come with a 60-day money back warranty, so you can make sure your retainer works for you.

With Dental Lab Direct, it’s easy to find retainer solutions custom-made to fit your needs. With our high-quality appliances, excellent customer care, and simple process, DLD provides the appliances you need delivered right to your door.

What is an Essix Appliance?

After you have fixed the position of your teeth and bite with braces or related orthodontic devices like Invisalign, the next step is wearing a retainer like an Essix appliance. As anyone who doesn’t wear a retainer can tell you, failing to do so can lead to crooked teeth and a less desirable smile. For this reason, you should choose a retainer that works around your lifestyle.

Retainers ensure that your bone tissue grows to support the new position of your teeth. Every day that you go without wearing a retainer means your teeth will gradually offset, so even missing a day can have a long-term impact on your smile. Retainers are most important to wear during the first few months, and should only be removed when you eat food. After a period of time, dentists may recommend that you only wear your retainer at night.

Because retainers are so important to keeping your smile after all of the work of wearing corrective braces, you should find retainers that work best for you. An Essix appliance, also called an Essix retainer, might be just what you’re looking for.

What is an Essix Appliance?

When we generally think of a retainer, we might think of a metal-pronged appliance that sits near the base of the teeth. This is no longer the only type of retainer available on the market. An Essix appliance is a clear, removable plastic retainer that looks a bit like some sports mouthguards or the popular Invisalign braces. Research has shown that these types of braces are just as effective as other types of braces, and may be even more effective due to the fact that people who use them tend to wear them more than alternatives.

Because they are clear, they tend to be less noticeable than alternative retainers on the market today. They are less bulky, making it easier to speak and less likely to irritate your hums, tongue, and lips. For those who are allergic to certain types of metals, Essex appliances offer an easy fix. Best of all, Essix appliances are some of the most affordable options available on the market today.

Essex retainers can also serve as a temporary solution for missing teeth. A clear retainer partial denture can include missing teeth when it is fabricated, helping make sure that teeth don’t misalign after a tooth goes missing.

However, because they are made of plastic, they come with several downsides. They are much harder to fix than other types of retainers, and if they are exposed to heat, they may warp. Like Invisalign braces, you should brush your teeth after every meal and clean them regularly, or they may develop an odor or discoloration.

Frequently Asked Questions about Essix Appliances

Can You Eat with an Essix Retainer?

Essix retainers are removable, and you should remove them before eating or drinking anything other than water. However, unlike permanent retainers, they won’t get food stuck in them. You should clean your teeth after every meal to ensure the lifetime of your Essix retainer is maximized.

How Long Does an Essix Appliance Last?

If Essix appliances are not taken care of, they are prone to break. The most common reason these types of retainers break is improperly removing them from your teeth, and during the cleaning process. Because these appliances are made of plastic rather than metal, ensure that you handle them with care. Essix retainers generally last anywhere between six months and a few years, depending on how well you take care of them.

Are Essix Retainers Noticeable?

Essix retainers are considerably less noticeable than their counterparts, as they are clear and do not contain metal. However, you will have to remove them whenever you eat.

Do Essix Retainers Cause Cavities?

No, essix appliances do not cause cavities on their own. However, improper cleaning and dental hygiene can lead to bacterial growth on your retainers, which can accelerate tooth decay. Make sure you brush after every meal.

Buy an Essix Appliance Online

Getting an Essix retainer has never been easier thanks to Dental Lab Direct. Rather than visiting a dentist, you can simply order an impression kit online from us, and a mold will be mailed directly to your doorstep. Follow the instructions included with the kit, and within three weeks a perfect mold of your teeth will be sent directly to your doorstep. This offers an attractive alternative to visiting the dentist and paying a premium, especially if your retainer breaks.

Are you ready to see the Dental Lab Direct difference? Contact us today for more information about our services.

Can You Add Teeth to a Flexible Denture?

A missing tooth no longer poses the same problem it did in the past thanks to a variety of cosmetic alternatives for teeth. Between prosthetics, traditional dentures, flexible partial dentures, and more, you have more choices than ever to get back your perfect smile. However, depending on the underlying cause of your missing teeth, some of these options are better than others.

Flexible partial dentures have become a popular choice for those with at least one missing tooth thanks to their comfortable fit and ease of use. But if you are likely to lose more teeth in the near future, they may not be the best option available, costing you more money over time. In this blog, we answer the question “can you add teeth to a flexible denture?” and outline options that are available for those looking for comfortable alternatives to missing teeth.

Can You Add Teeth to a Flexible Partial Denture?

While flexible partials offer enhanced comfort and an excellent fit, it is more difficult to add additional teeth to them than cast metal dentures. Cast metal dentures are less comfortable, but tend to be stronger and more flexible to change than acrylic partial dentures. Most dentists do not recommend adding teeth to flexible partial dentures, and instead opting for a replacement.

This is because of two primary factors: the position of other remaining teeth in your mouth, and the condition of the remaining teeth in your mouth.

Flexible partial dentures work best when two or more teeth are missing in the same area of the mouth. They form a bridge between teeth that ensures the remaining teeth don’t become misaligned and fill the empty space where your teeth once were. If you’re missing many teeth, a flexible partial denture may not be the best option for you.

Because the support of a flexible partial denture is based off of your remaining teeth, they’re also likely to be less effective if you will be losing more teeth in the immediate future. The flexibility comes from the material that they are made out of, so to get the best results, your remaining teeth should remain in place during the duration that you wear them.  

For this reason, you should carefully consider whether flexible partial dentures are the right choice for the long-run. For a single missing tooth or several missing teeth that are unrelated to underlying diseases, flexible partial dentures are a fantastic option. However, for those with gum disease that might progressively take away other teeth in your mouth, other options with greater customizability may be ideal.

Ordering dentures online through a service like Dental Lab Direct can help ensure you get the best price for flexible partial dentures. However, if you expect to lose teeth, consider options like acrylic partial dentures or clear Essix retainers. These have enhanced customizability that may be better options for your smile.

Options When You May Lose More Teeth in the Future

Provided that you take care to clean and maintain your dentures, they can last for many years without requiring a replacement. However, the functionality of your dentures also depends on how well you are maintaining your existing teeth.

If you are only missing one tooth, a nesbit flexible partial is your best option. These are some of the smallest dentures available, and are some of the most affordable options. Because they use less plastic than flexible partial dentures, they will impact your speech and eating the least, and will be the least noticeable option.

If you anticipate losing more teeth in the future, consider Hawley dentures. While they are made of metal and are less comfortable than flexible partial dentures, Hawley dentures can be customized more easily to add in new teeth as they are lost. They also come with support built into their metal design, meaning that they will not lose functionality over time with more missing teeth.

Dental technology has evolved considerably over the past few decades, meaning many options are available for missing teeth. If you are missing several teeth in the same part of your mouth and don’t anticipate to lose any more, flexible partial dentures are a solid option.

Not sure what is right for you? Dental Lab Direct can help! Contact us for more information about our online denture services!

How to Deep Clean a Retainer

Once braces are removed, most orthodontists will prompt you to wear a retainer. Getting your braces removed is an incredible feeling – for kids, this means eating popcorn, sticky candy, and other sweets that have been off-limits. While brushing teeth may now be easier, this doesn’t mean that dental hygiene can be relaxed. In fact, many people who wear retainers neglect to clean their retainers. This post will outline everything you need to know about how to deep clean a retainer.

Wearing a retainer is important so that teeth can adjust to their new placement in the mouth after tooth alignment. People that neglect to wear retainers may find that their newly aligned teeth drift back into their initial position, defeating the purpose of wearing braces in the first place. This is because the jaw bones and gums take longer to move to their new position than the teeth themselves. Additionally, they help stabilize your bite and maintain space for new teeth or wisdom teeth that might come in later.

Because the function of retainers is so important, they must be properly maintained. Plaque can form on the surface of retainers just like teeth, but even the dirtiest retainers can be cleaned. However, caution must be taken when cleaning them to prevent damage that can make them less effective.

If you’re wondering how to deep clean a retainer, or even maintain it generally, you’re in the right place. In this guide, we provide a comprehensive guide on retainer maintenance for teeth that’s so easy, even your kids can do it!

How to Deep Clean a Retainer

Plaque Buildup on Retainers

Brushing your teeth isn’t enough to keep your retainer clean. You may have noticed a residue building up on the surface. This is called plaque.

Plaque is a sticky coating of bacteria that is often triggered by acids after eating or drinking. While they are often triggered by sugary sweets, plaque is constantly forming inside the mouth. Brushing teeth and regularly visiting the dentist can help keep plaque at bay, preventing it from forming into hard tartar that can cause cavities, gum disease, and in later stages, tooth loss.

Plaque can damage the retainer if not properly cleaned. Additionally, it can accelerate plaque development in the mouth when not properly cleaned.

How to Deep Clean a Hawley Retainer

Most kids wear a Hawley retainer, which consists of a plastic base and wire rings that secure them to the inside of their mouth. Plaque buildup on Hawley retainers is not uncommon when they are not cleaned every time they are removed. To clean these without damaging them, you will need distilled water, baking soda, and white vinegar.

  1. Remove the retainer from your mouth or your child’s mouth
  2. For a light buildup, soak the retainer in distilled water. Use a toothbrush to brush away the plaque
  3. For a heavier plaque buildup, soak the retainer in a mixture of baking soda and distilled water. Afterwards, brush the surface with a toothbrush. This can be used to remove odors.
  4. To prevent plaque buildup, regularly soak the retainer in white vinegar. This should be done on a weekly basis to kill any bacteria on the surface and prevent plaque from returning.

DO NOT use all three ingredients at the same time, as doing so can damage the retainer.

DO NOT deep clean a Hawley retainer with baking soda daily, as doing so can damage the retainer.

How to Deep Clean an Essix Retainer

Essix retainers, or clear retainers, are generally reserved for adults, and are rarely given to children. Why is this the case? Maintenance.

Essix retainers are less distracting to wear than a Hawley retainer, but are significantly more fragile than their Hawley counterparts.

After any meal, or after drinking anything other than water, adults should brush their teeth and rinse their Essix retainer to ensure that it doesn’t get discolored or develop an odor. Debris trapped between an Essix retainer and teeth can not only shorten the lifespan of your retainer, but also accelerate plaque buildup on your teeth.

To deep clean an Essix retainer, simply place it in a mixture of distilled water and baking soda. Because it doesn’t contain metal, you can do this as often as you’d like without damaging it.

DO NOT use toothpaste to clean your Essix retainer. While you’ll likely be brushing more frequently throughout the day, toothpaste can scratch the plastic and damage the retainer.

How to Not Damage Your Retainer During a Deep Clean

Do Not Use Hot Water When Cleaning Retainers

Regardless of the type of retainer you or your child is wearing, you should not use hot water under any circumstances. A common mistake parents make when cleaning retainers is placing them in a dishwasher. The heat from this can warp the plastic components, making them unwearable.

Boiling water will also damage retainers, although to a lesser degree. Instead of using hot water, use lukewarm water.

Finally, it is strongly advised not to keep Hawley retainers in water for extended periods of time. The metal prongs that keep these braces aligned with your teeth can corrode, rendering them useless.

Retainers Can Be Damaged by Chemicals

After wearing metal braces, children who wear retainers might think that these tooth alignment devices are just as invincible. While they are generally made out of metal and hard plastic, they’re not quite as indestructible as you might think.

Retainers are made out of porous materials, meaning that while they are built out of firm plastics and metals, they can also be damaged by many kinds of cleansers. Products containing alcohol, like mouthwash, can seriously damage the material when it dries out, rendering it less effective and more prone to breaking.

Baking soda is an effective method of cleaning retainers. However, it may damage metal components with overuse.

Toothpaste should not be used to clean Essix retainers. These contain abrasive materials for breaking down plaque, and can damage the plastic.

Maintaining Retainers for Teeth

Like your teeth, retainers also need to be taken care of to remain hygienic.

Hawley retainers should generally be kept in a moist environment, like the mouth. As a retainer dries, bacteria thrive, and can damage your retainer the longer it remains uncleaned.

Always keep a retainer case on you. This will help prevent bacterial buildup when they are removed from your mouth, and also prevent you from losing it.

Dental Lab Direct Offers Direct-to-Door Retainers for You and Your Family

Maintaining your retainers with thorough cleaning will help ensure the lifetime of your retainer. Neglecting to wear a retainer for extended periods of time can render them ineffective, as they will no longer conform to the shape of your teeth. For this reason, it is essential to keep your retainer intact so teeth don’t shift out of alignment.

Have you broken or lost your retainer? Dental Lab Direct can help. We offer online retainers that are delivered directly to your door at a tremendous cost savings. Simply take an impression of your mouth, and within three weeks a retainer will be delivered to you. Contact us today to learn more about our services, or browse our offerings here.