A few doctors have mentioned to me that patients can agonize over picking a color or design for their retainers, usually while in the chair, wasting your valuable time and setting the schedule back. There is an easy fix for this:

Have an appointment card printed that includes a link to an online color chart and a space for the patient to fill in for the colors or designs they want. The link can be to our website, or we can provide you a PDF for your website. You can even contact our graphics company to redesign a color chart specifically for your practice, if you want to leave options out or add options—I would just appreciate a byline as I have been working on the thing for over 20 years. Contact me for further information.

But to the colors…

Tie Dyes and Marbles seem to be popular designs. I always plead with the assistants, and note it on the color chart, that they need to be made with colors from the specific categories. For example, Tie Dyes can be made with regular colors or tropical colors, but not one regular color and one tropical.

This is due to how the designs are created, and how retainers are made. Retainers are poured using a “salt and pepper” technique, using a liquid (monomer) and a powder (polymer). We put down a base of powder, cover it in liquid, and then repeat until we have the desired thickness.

We request colors be from a specific category because, depending on the category, they can be either a powder or a liquid. Regular colors are colored liquids that we place on clear powder; Tropicals and Neons are colored powders that we layer with clear liquid. Specialty colors are actually a combination of colored liquids and colored powders that we cannot combine into Tie Dyes and Marbles.

So if a patient asks for a Tie Dye, with, say, Cherry (regular color–liquid) and Ocean Blue (tropical color—powder), it can be tough, if not impossible, to give them what they want. Our fallback is to use a comparable powder or liquid.

For Marbles, I personally like the Regular colors. A Blueberry marbled is pictured above. I make it by using the Blueberry liquid, clear liquid, and then white powder and clear powder to give it the marbling effect.

For Tie Dyes, I like the powders, Tropicals or Neons. A special set I made for a friend is pictured above: Tropical Rainbow Marbled with Silver Glitter. I can just get them better without them running together too much.

Colors will run together creating other colors that your patient might not expect or want. This is especially true with Regular colors. Some colors, like red and black, can be over powering in Tie Dyes. I have also gotten requests for Tie Dyes where the colors are too similar (example: aqua and turquoise). A good contrast is key to a good Tie Dye.

Decals can only be placed in upper retainers. They cannot be placed in upper expanders or lower retainers: there is simply not enough room to do it properly on some so we just expanded it to all. Our selection of decals is only a sample. We can find and place anything that can be found on the internet. We are even buying a new printer specifically made for decals to produce a library of decals printed on special paper. Some of the more popular decals (sports teams and Disney characters) we cannot put on the color chart or on the web—there is that whole copyright infringement thing we want to stay away from. But if the patient requests it?

Finally, glitters. If you ask for glitter, the fallback is silver. We offer a rainbow of glitter options–including disco (the old iris or multi) and pastel rainbow glitter for that matter. All of the glitters are pre mixed with a clear powder. Many of the more popular ones are premixed with various tropical colors.

If anybody would ever like to stop by and see how retainers are made, feel free. I start pouring every evening around 5 o’clock—and I usually break out the good coffee after everybody else leaves—the fresh ground Hawaiian Kona.

-Chris (The Lab Guy)


Have you received our new color chart yet?

The logo should be the same as that on the top of this website.
Call to request as many as you need.

Click to Download Our Color Chart


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