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How to Care for Your Essix Retainer

Essix retainer

Round Lake, IL – Dr. Michael Stosich and his team at iDentity Dental love seeing the excitement on their patients’ faces on the day their braces are removed. Seeing how happy they are with their new smiles is one of the best parts of the job. But educating patients on how to help that smile stay so straight is an important part of the job.

“The day your braces are removed or the day you finish your last aligner set isn’t the day your work is done, unfortunately,” says Dr. Stosich. “The hardest part is over, but you still have to wear your retainer so that you can be sure your smile stays aligned properly. Our team at Stosich Consulting will work with you to help you understand the importance of wearing your retainer, how to care for it, and how and when to replace it.”

So, why do you need a retainer once your braces are off?

Retainers are important because they work to keep your new smile stabilized and prevent the teeth from trying to go back to their old locations. As your teeth move, the periodontal membrane and ligaments shift along with them. Your teeth loosen from their old locations and move through the bone to their new ones. Once they are in their new positions, new bone grows around them. This process of bone remodeling is important to secure your teeth in their new locations. And the retainer works to ensure the periodontal ligament can’t pull them back to their old locations before the bone has a chance to rebuild.

For patients who don’t wear their retainers as they should, relapse can cause the teeth to drift back to their old locations. Dr. Stosich knows his patients are excited about showing off their new smiles, which is why he uses Essix retainers for his patients.

Essix retainers look very similar to an Invisalign aligner. They are made of a clear plastic material and fit snugly over the teeth to hold the smile in its new alignment. The primary advantage of Essix retainers is that they are much more aesthetically pleasing. But, they can wear down over time so it is important to take proper care of the retainer and replace it as needed.

Taking care of your Essix retainer

Taking care of your retainer should become part of your daily routine, and in no time, you won’t even notice the steps you’re taking to take care of it. Dr. Stosich recommends:

  • Remember your case! Retainers can get accidentally thrown away or damaged when you take them out to eat. Whenever you take your retainer out, place it in its case so you’ll be much less likely to accidentally throw it away.
  • Never place your retainer within reach of pets. Dr. Stosich has had more than one patient need a replacement retainer because one was eaten by their family dog!
  • Take your retainer out whenever you eat or drink anything but plain water.
  • Never use toothpaste to clean the retainer as the abrasiveness of the paste can cause scratching or dulling to the surface of the retainer.
  • Soak your retainer in denture cleaner to remove build-up and clean it fresh.
  • Never soak or clean your retainer with hot water or store the retainer in a hot place – this can warp the plastic.
  • If your retainer starts to feel loose or like it just isn’t fitting correctly, schedule an appointment with Dr. Stosich.
  • Remember to replace your retainer at regular intervals. Essix retainers aren’t made to last forever, so it’s important to replace them regularly to ensure your smile stays in place.

“While you’ve completed the bulk of the work and have a gorgeous new smile to show off, taking care to wear your retainer as directed and taking proper care of it are important,” says Dr. Stosich. “We continue to see our patients even after their braces have been removed so we can ensure their retainers are still in proper working order and to address any needs or concerns that may arise.”


  • Michael S. Stosich, DMD, MS, MS

    Dr. Michael Stosich is a board-certified orthodontist and the director of orthodontics at the University of Chicago Medicine. He is known for his extensive experience in leading clinical enterprises, publishing, and lecturing both in the U.S. and internationally. Dr. Stosich has expertise in starting, growing, and maintaining successful orthodontic practices, including those in pediatric dentistry, general dentistry, and multi-specialty clinics. He serves on the editorial board of several publications and has been involved in innovating patient care and education, focusing on the future of dental and orthodontic healthcare.

Stosich Consulting