Orthodontic treatment with braces and alignwise aligners doesn’t end immediately once the teeth are in their decided positions. After removal of braces or after your last Alignwise aligner tray, a retainer is given to the patient to be worn. A retainer is a device that can be fixed or mobile and helps maintain the teeth in their new positions to prevent relapse of orthodontic treatment. The clear retainer, also called as the Essix retainer, is removable and easily confused with an aligner.
Though they look similar- clear and transparent, they are completely different in their function.
- Alignwise Aligners are made of thermoplastic material similar to Essix retainers. However, aligners are thinner than retainers.
- Aligners are meant for teeth movement while retainers do not cause any movements. They are meant for holding the teeth in their said position.
- Aligners have attachments that help them perform complex tooth movements. Retainers have no such attachments.
- Aligner edges are normally smoother and end at 0.5 to 2mm on the gum line whereas the margins of the retainer end at 2 to 3mm on the gum line.
- Aligners can be fabricated in a way such that they can accommodate erupting teeth later in the treatment. In retainers, however, this provision is not available as they are not meant to perform any kind of teeth movements.
- Alignwise Aligners are clear, invisible trays that are worn on the teeth. Retainers are of three types: Essix(clear) retainer, Hawley’s retainer (removable retainer with a metal wire that rests on the front teeth) and fixed retainer (a metal wire is fixed with tooth colored material on the inner side of your upper and lower front teeth).