Another common type is the vacuum formed retainer (VFR). This is a polypropylene or polyvinylchloride (PVC) material, typically .020″ or .030″ thick. Essix (invented by Dr. John Sheridan) and Zendura are the brand names commonly associated with this retainer. This clear or transparent retainer fits over the entire arch of teeth or only from canine to canine (clip-on retainer) and is produced from a mold. It is similar in appearance to Invisalign trays, though the latter are not considered “retainers.” The retainer is virtually invisible and clear when worn. VFRs, if worn 24 hours per day, do not allow the upper and lower teeth to touch because plastic covers the chewing surfaces of the teeth. Some orthodontists feel that it is important for the top and bottom chewing surfaces to meet to allow for “favorable settling” to occur. When eating is necessary, the retainer is removed to allow natural consumption and to avoid the crushing of the VFR. VFRs are less expensive, less visible, and easier to wear than Hawley retainers; however, for patients with disorders such as bruxism, VFRs are prone to rapid breakage and deterioration, especially if the material is PVC, a short chain molecule which breaks down far more quickly than polypropylene, a long chain molecule.
Most removable retainers are supplied with a retainer case for protection. During the first few days of retainer use, many people experience extra saliva in their mouth. This is natural and is due to the presence of a new object inside the mouth and consequent stimulation of the salivary glands. It may be difficult to speak for a while after getting a retainer, but this speech difficulty should go away over time as one gets used to wearing it.