retainers vs aligners

Retainers vs Aligners – Differences and how they work

If you had your teeth straightened then you will certainly be familiar with retainers. But what if you lost your retainer, or it broke, and now your teeth have started to shift slightly out of position? You will certainly require a new retainer, but could you also straighten your teeth a little with aligners? Retainers and aligners often seem almost identical, so let’s take a look at the situation and find out what the difference is with retainers vs aligners.

 

Contents

#1 Why do we need retainers?

#2 What types of retainers exist?

#3 How long do retainers last?

#4 Where can I get removable retainers?

#5 How much do removable retainers cost?

#6 Retainers vs Aligners – What’s the difference?

#7 What is the easiest way to re-straighten a few teeth only after retainer failure?

#1 Why do we need retainers?

Retainers are an important step in any orthodontic treatment because they are responsible for holding your teeth in their correct position once your treatment is over. Many believe that after several months or several years of using retainers the teeth will just stay In the new straight position. However, the forces generated inside our mouth by the muscles that we use to eat and speak are so powerful that they can always cause our teeth to move back. This is why the importance of retainers after teeth straightening must not be overlooked.

#2 What types of retainers exist?

There are two types of retainers: fixed and removable. Fixed retainers, also known as permanent retainers, consist of a wire which is bonded to the back of your first 6 teeth, keeping them in place. Removable retainers, also referred to as Essix retainers, look very much like aligners – they are made of strong, clear plastic and fit perfectly around your newly aligned teeth, ensuring that all of them (not only the front 6) stay where they should. In order to create a set of retainers, a dental impression is required (either using impression putty or the new 3D scan method). Your removable retainers are then created in a lab using a pressure forming method.

#3 How long do retainers last?

The longevity of your retainers depends largely on the type that you opt for. As the name suggests, permanent retainers remain fixed to the back of your teeth for many years. However, depending on the amount of stress the metal wire is put under while eating, for example, it is at risk of coming loose or breaking, possibly causing damage to your teeth. Your dentist’s precision while fitting the retainers also influences how well they will stay in place and how easy it will be for you to floss and clean our teeth properly. Some people have their fixed retainers for several years, while others find that they only lasted a few months.

Being made from medical grade plastic, removable retainers are exceptionally durable and almost completely invisible. To keep them nice and clean for as long as possible, retainers need to be brushed gently whenever you take them out and only worn after brushing your teeth. At least once a week, they need to be thoroughly cleaned using a retainer cleaning solution (or retainer cleaning tablets) to ensure any stubborn plaque and debris is removed. When properly taken care of, removable retainers usually last between 6-12 months before they need replacing, because they end up suffering some wear and tear from frequent removal and nightly teeth clenching or grinding. If not replaced, these large forces can lead to slight loosening of the plastic, which is what could allow your teeth to misalign. The easiest way to ensure your smile stays straight is to think ahead and always have a spare set on hand, such as the Instant Dentist™ Retainers.

#4 Where can I get removable retainers?

Currently, there are two main ways to get removable dental retainers: through a dentist’s clinic and via an online provider. Let’s take a closer look at each option…

1. Getting new dental retainers in-clinic

This method requires not one, but several trips to the dentist: if your teeth straightening treatment was not performed by this dentist, or if the treatment took place several years ago, a retainer consultation will most likely be necessary. Then, an impressions appointment will follow to capture the dental structure you want to maintain. Finally, you will head into the clinic to get them fitted – if any changes need to be made, the process starts from the top. 

2. Getting new dental retainers through an online provider

There is also a more convenient way to get new retainers, which is via an online platform. For instance, through Instant Dentist™, you can order retainers from the comfort of home. 

To do this, you’ll receive an impression kit delivered to your door with everything you need to make dental impressions and send them back to the lab for free. Using these impressions, your custom retainers will be produced and sent straight to you. Additionally, your digital dental model can be stored, making retainer replacements and reorders even easier: Just send a message through your Instant Dentist™ account to order fresh retainers whenever you need them. 

#5 How much do removable retainers cost?

As you can imagine, removable retainers cost will be higher or lower depending on where you get them from. Here is a cost breakdown of the two options discussed above…

1. How much does a new retainer cost through a local dentist? 

Due to the frequent appointments, clinic overheads, and the fact that the retainers are usually produced by a third party lab, the cost to buy retainers with your local dentist can be quite high. Sometimes they are included in the overall cost of your orthodontic treatment, but when you need new retainers they can cost between £100 / 100€ to £200 / 200€ per single retainer or as much as £200 / 200€ to £500 / 500€ per set of retainers when purchased through your local dentist. The price can vary depending on the dentist’s clinic and where the retainers are produced.

2. How much do retainers cost online? 

The cost of retainers online can also vary depending on providers. With Instant Dentist™, you can buy them in bulk to have enough for when travelling or for the whole year. A set of 4 dental retainers comes in at £275 and a set of 8 retainers will cost you £475, making it a long lasting investment and saving you both time and in average 50% less than traditional retainers. 

#6 Retainers vs Aligners – What’s the difference?

Now that you are clear on how to keep your teeth straight, you may wonder how to proceed if you only wanted to straighten them a little bit more if they have shifted out of position? Currently, the easiest and most comfortable option on the market to straighten your teeth non invasively is through the use of clear aligners. These look very much like removable retainers as they are also made from virtually invisible, medical grade plastic. However, both the production and functionality are different from retainers.

1. How are aligners produced?

To produce custom clear aligners, an orthodontist uses your dental impressions to digitally plan the movement that each of your teeth will make to end up in the final, optimum position. Once the tooth movements have been approved, the digital models are used to create aligners for every treatment stage. Each set of aligners is worn for 2-4 weeks. So, while retainers keep your teeth still aligners do the opposite: they are designed to move them by small increments until the desired position is achieved.

2. How do aligners work to straighten teeth?

Invisible aligners aren’t attached to your teeth by brackets like fixed braces. They are removable and every set shifts your teeth by up to 0.2mm by changing the shape of your dental arch. If your teeth are crowded or crooked, your arch would need widening. If your teeth are spaced and gappy, your arch would generally need to become slightly narrower. To move even one stubborn tooth, most of the teeth in your arch need to be shifted with it, requiring careful planning for your upper teeth, lower teeth, and bite. 

3. Which is the easiest option for teeth aligners?

Though aligners require a detailed approach, our sister platform Straight Teeth Direct™  are experts in remote teeth straightening using invisible aligners. This means that the entire process can be done from the comfort of home by connecting to a dentist online through an app, where your entire treatment is monitored and all necessary products are sent straight to your door. Currently, this is the easiest and most affordable teeth straightening option on the market, saving you up to 70% on the clinic price.

The process is as follows: You start with a free e-consultation for a dentist to check your suitability for this teeth straightening method. Once approved, your next step is to create dental impressions, which your assigned orthodontist uses to create a treatment plan and 3D smile simulation, showing you exactly what to expect from the treatment. After you begin wearing the aligners, the clinical team can check in with you monthly through digital reviews to ensure that your progress matches the predicted results. As simple as that and in 5 – 9 months your teeth are back to their straightest smile. Once more thing to smile about is the all inclusive cost that is fixed so you know exactly what to expect before investing any time or money into the process.

#7 What is the easiest way to re-straighten a few teeth only after retainer failure?

If you still have old retainers but are worried that they’re beginning to wear out and might allow your teeth to move, you always have the option to receive a pack of retainers through Instant Dentist™. This comes with the added bonus of your digital files being stored, making reorders easy and keeping your smile protected. But what if your teeth have already moved?

The most important thing is to get in touch with an orthodontic service provider as soon as possible to bring your smile back up to scratch – be it your dentist or an online company. Although it may only seem like a minor adjustment, this can’t be done using only 2 aligners. Aligners adjust teeth in increments of up to 0.2mm, so by the time you notice any movement in your smile, several sets of aligners will be needed to readjust them. Additionally, after your bone has settled in a certain position, beginning this kind of tooth movement takes a little more time. So, what is the easiest way to re-straighten a few teeth?

Straight Teeth Direct™ can help you reclaim your smile in the fastest and most affordable way. As there is no need for lengthy clinic appointments and all contact with your assigned dentist is performed instantly via the app, you’re able to save time and money. Additionally, you can easily opt to join the Maintainer Plan at the end of your aligner treatment, to keep receiving two sets of fresh retainers every year, as well as an extended guarantee protecting your investment for good and not worrying about your teeth moving back ever again.

If you have any doubts as to which option is best for you or want professional advice on your case regarding aligners and retainers, you can get in touch with a trusted dentist today by completing your Instant Dentist™ consultation! You’ll receive a 360 Smile Report, as well as a recommended at home regime designed specifically to complement your individual smile.

  wii u roms

Dental care reimagined

Register your interest ahead of the closed launch

Be the first to know and join the waiting list to receive an exclusive introductory offer.

Register your interest ahead of the closed launch

Be the first to know and join the waiting list to receive an exclusive introductory offer.

Instant Dentist