Traditionally, retainers have been clear pink or clear; however, there has been a huge trend that has taken place in changing that tradition of clear and clear and pink. The reason is simple, patients nowadays need to have a little bit more other than, “You need to wear this,” in order to do something. Having the ability to personalize one’s retainer increases the likelihood of the patient wearing the retainer because now there is a connection, there is a bond. “I helped create this. I’m having it in the color I like. I have it with my pet’s picture embedded into the retainer. I have my jersey number,” or, “I have the karate school’s logo in it and it’s black because I’m a black belt.” Those are the connections that patients make with their retainers, which make them far more likely to wear their retainer.
When a patient undergoes orthodontic treatment, during the entire course of the treatment the orthodontist is on the driver’s seat because of the orthodontist, whether the patient wants or not … The braces are fixed to your teeth, so things are going to happen regardless. Compliance is not really a factor unless you need for the patient to wear elastics or things of that nature, but all that changes when the patient finishes treatment and you give the patient a retainer because now the orthodontist is relying 100% on the willingness of the patient to wear that retainer. Sure, traditional wisdom will say, “Well, he underwent two years of treatment. It has been a huge sacrifice for the patient and their parents to get this treatment. He or she is going to wear their retainer.” Not so in some cases. Having the ability to customize that retainer, to personalize the color, really increases the likelihood for the patient to wear their retainer.
The inspiration comes from many places. A lot of times, it is our own technicians. For instance, we have a design called Florida, and it’s pretty much like a landscape, if you will, of the sun coming down at the beach, with birds and all that. Who would have thought that all of that could be clustered into a little retainer? A lot of times, inspiration comes from patients themselves. They say, “Hey, I want the picture of my pet in the retainer,” or, “Hey, I have this cool picture of a galaxy. Can you put it in there?” Or, “Hey, my favorite album is Pink Floyd’s Prism. Can you put it in there?” So, it goes.
The options are endless and we cater to any request, from any patient. Having such a wide variety of colors to start with, and allowing patients latitude to create their own, has really given us a powerful tool to elicit compliance from patients. That’s why colors, nowadays, are very important when manufacturing orthodontic appliances.