Picture of Make a night time orthodontic retainer
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I lost my retainer about 6 months ago. It was a clear invisalign retainer, and I really didn't want to pay 200 dollars to get a new one. So I made my own, and they work great.
The pictures show the finished product.
Notice that they are white, so they are only really good for night time, unless you want to look like a dork. Usually after 6 months you can only wear them at night anyways.

Step 1: Materials/ Tools needed

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A glass cup
Around 5 grams of Shapelock plastic, aka friendly plastic, per retainer

The best place to get the plastic is by getting a 35 gram sample for 5 dollars here

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This will not to prevent your teeth from shifting and not sure if its even safe. The retainers have to be very tight to your teeth to be effective. We know that dentist can be expensive. We have upper and lower retainers for 95$. FDA approved material and made the correct way.


Were going to put up instructables soon on the correct way a retainer is made.

galaxyman7 (author)  SportingSmiles1 month ago
They were just as tight a fit as my clear plastic retainers from the orthodontist. The plastic is food safe, and is the same type of plastic that orthodontists use. My teeth are still straight and I have had no problems. Those are the facts. Let people decide which one is the better option.
EmmaC25 months ago


galaxyman7 (author)  EmmaC25 months ago
My orthodontist said that it wouldnt work too. I have used them for years with no side effect, and my teeth havent moved at all. The plastic is food safe. I think they might be worried about it poking you in the mouth. If its uncomfortable, just trim it and sand down the edges a bit. Its very easy.
EmmaC25 months ago


RobertW157 months ago

This is an interesting and well done method, mine was a little cheaper though. I just used an athletic mouthguard from Walmart and shaped it as instructed on the package.

goldengirl98 months ago
Can i make these retainers from my original impressions that i already have made?
DvfgD8 months ago

Not saying there's anything wrong with this method, it's genius really but it you wanted to spend a little more money and/or time you could get a dental quality one cheaply.

There is a guy on youtube who makes his own retainers with dental grade plastic and a vacuum forming machine (just like dentists do). It is much trickier than this method and also more expensive but for those looking for that option his video is here; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-vut8Wwx1c

I have also seen people on Amazon selling clear retainers here;


They send you the impression material by post, you do it at home and send it back to them and they will make a custom fitted retainer for you.

KuliaN9 months ago

Hey do you have to use Shapelock plastic? Is it alright to use something else other than plastic? And also, can this still be used even if you didn't use braces?

pecker10 months ago

I started to grind and clench my teeth while sleeping with the result that my jaw and teeth are mighty sore. I just spent £35 for a mouth guard from Amazon yesterday.

Ho hum. I've got a kilo of this stuff lying around; never thought to use it.

In the meantime, I made one. Dead easy and fits nice and snug.

pecker10 months ago

I started to grind and clench my teeth while sleeping with the result that my jaw and teeth are mighty sore. I just spent £35 for a mouth guard from Amazon yesterday.

Ho hum. I've got a kilo of this stuff lying around; never thought to use it.

In the meantime, I made one. Dead easy and fits nice and snug.

slaw71 year ago
Thank you so much. Do you still use this?
galaxyman7 (author)  slaw71 year ago

Yes I do, and it is still holding up.

jmills hoy1 year ago
just got my 100g bag of poly-morph for £4 on ebay . and made my first mouth guard witch i will have on Thu the day its that thin you cant really see it :)

this instructable is just fab thank you :) x
bo'brien91 year ago
You seem to be ignoring everyone's valid points.

-Shapelock's polymorph could be of way lesser quality than medical grade polymorph that is used for dentistry (called Resilon).

-There ARE bad plastics out there. Some plastics leach BPA's into water and whatnot. This is why you should not reuse disposable water bottles. Look at the different numbers under plastic bottles. Some numbers are safe. Some have a mixture of bad plastics.

-If the company is telling people that they do not endorse it for personal dental use, then you may conclude that it might not be safe to put in your mouth.

-Resilon/medical grade polymorph is extremely expensive, BTW.

"End rant"
galaxyman7 (author)  bo'brien91 year ago
You do have good points. I'm saying that I don't think they are that big a deal. I have had these retainers for 3 years, and nothing has happened to me. That's all the proof I can really give, along with saying that the plastic is very similar to dental plastics. I'm not saying that I have done an entire study on the plastic along with an FDA approval. If you want that, get 200 dollar retainers, be my guest.
Not sure if my post takes awhile to show up. So I will respond again.

Cancer might not show up for more than 20 years. At that point, it is tough to figure out cause. The company who makes this does not seem to want to be transparent about potential leeching of potential carcinogens.

I personally think the $200 retainer is worth it.

People are able to do whatever they want. Just be informed people.
galaxyman7 (author)  bo'brien91 year ago
from their website:

"Facts and Tips about ShapeLock

Reusable - Just reheat and remold, endlessly recycle-able.

Super Tough, Safe and Non-Toxic. "

From the wikipedia on PCL:

"PCL also has many applications in the hobbyist market (sold under various tradenames, such as "InstaMorph", "Friendly Plastic", "ShapeLock", "PolyMorph", "Plastimake", "Protoplast", "Plaast" etc.)."

"PCL is degraded by hydrolysis of its ester linkages in physiological conditions (such as in the human body) and has therefore received a great deal of attention for use as an implantable biomaterial. In particular it is especially interesting for the preparation of long term implantable devices, owing to its degradation which is even slower than that of polylactide."

Not that hard to understand...
You are not understanding that the PCL safe for medical/dental use may NOT be the same grade or quality as the one ordered for consumer use.

How do you put it on your teeth?
So in the cup is melted plastic ... do you just pour it on you teeth or something?
fjm302 years ago
Is it possible that the reason shapelock is so much cheaper than the products used by orthodontists eg resilon is that the manufacturing process used by shapelock isn't medical grade? Ie they are making a product that is non-toxic to skin contact (as per their recommended uses, eg tool handles), but which may have impurities that would be hazardous when used internally? And perhaps this is why shapelock advise against internal use. It's a great idea, but there's no guarantee it won't poison you over the long term!
galaxyman7 (author)  fjm302 years ago
I don't think that it is the material that is expensive. It's the process for making the retainer. And plastic is plastic... I would be worried about drinking water that came out of PVC pipes more than I would be worried putting this stuff in my mouth. And the fact is, the plastic I am using is the same type as the kind used in orthodontics anyways. You can't really get safer than that. You could argue that anything could poison you over the long term! For instance, water bottles, or polyester clothes, etc..... Part of modern day life is accepting that plastics are all around us. All I'm saying is that if you don't want to take a "risk" you don't have to, but this risk seems to be a VERY minor one. End rant :P.
campbel272 years ago
I noticed I had a bit of a sore throat after wearing these for a short time after making them. Soaked it in 1/2 cup water with about a 2 teaspoons of vinegar for maybe an hour. rinsed it and then soaked in 1/2 cup water with a tablespoon of baking soda dissolved in it. Seemed to help.
galaxyman7 (author)  campbel272 years ago
Hmm interesting. It could be that the retainers are soaking up a lot of water and leaving your mouth dry. The plastic tends to absorb a lot of water.
AndyFind2 years ago
galaxyman7 - you said it is completely safe but when I asked the company if it was safe for use in the mouth they said the product is marked Not for internal use and they don't endorse any application for dental appliances.
galaxyman7 (author)  AndyFind2 years ago
If you read one of my comments below I explain why it is safe. It is made out of the same plastic that is used in existing dental applications.
reilii2 years ago
how about caps or crowns? would they be damaged? thank you for this great instruction
farwahaseeb2 years ago
Hey, this is so great! I have lost my retainers the second time and it sucks now and i neeed a back up and this is just great! can you pleease guide me on how to make it a bit tighter as i have to get my gap reduced too! Thanks.
galaxyman7 (author)  farwahaseeb2 years ago
Thanks ;) To make the retainer nice and snug you need to create suction around the retainer by sucking out all the air when they are over your teeth. If the retainer stays in afterwords you did it right.
slove62 years ago
So I've ordered new retainers probably 2-3 times since i got my braces off (about 4 years ago). I usually end up resorting to getting new ones when I feel the tiny little gap between my two front teeth start to open up. Even though they say retainers won't actually align your teeth, the tightness of the retainer, in addition to the gap being super super minimal (i'm really the only one who notices it), has always closed it within a few days. Do you think this'll do the trick too?
galaxyman7 (author)  slove62 years ago
Well the retainer only keeps your teeth in the same spot they were in when you made it. So if you make it when you have a gap in your teeth, I'm assuming a retainer would keep it like that. If you make them when you have no gap, it should keep them in the same spot, providing you made the retainer tight enough.
cfoster172 years ago
This works perfectly!
I ordered the Shapelock! So, just curious... How exactly do you make these? I see that you used water, the plastic and a microwave. Did you put the plastic in the water? Is there any way you could give exact steps? I cannot mess this up!
galaxyman7 (author)  kmuller lamb2 years ago
You really cant mess up. shapelock can be melted and remelted unlimited times. Follow the instructions and it will work fine. If you mess up, just remelt it and do it again.
hjory2 years ago
So first of all, awesome post. I have been trying to find a how-to on homemade retainers and well, yours is the best so far. So its been a good while since you started using these retainers and I was wondering if your teeth were still the same or if there were any shifts in your teeth, minor or major? After losing this last set of invisalign retainers, I'm so over forking out the $300 for a new set. I'm hoping these will work just as good! Would love some feedback on how they're working for you now and thanks again dude.
galaxyman7 (author)  hjory2 years ago
Surprisingly I still have the originals! It has been 3 years, and my teeth haven't moved at all. They work very well.
THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! I lose my retainer a lot and it's reassuring to have a backup retainer or two. :) Thanks again, great 'ible!
galaxyman7 (author)  rubberducky475 years ago
No problem. The retainers I made work great, and my teeth are just like when I took my braces off. It would be good to have a retainer for vacations, since that is where most people lose them. Good luck making your own!
This is a website you can order a retainer from the same lab where your dentist has them custom made. But at a greatly reduced cost.. I like mine better than the one my dentist sold me. The perfect solution to keeping a spare, also.,, doityourselfdentalimpressionkit.com
mryann3 years ago
Hi, thanks for posting this, it works so well. I lost my retainer 2 weeks after I got off my braces. I was wondering what the best way to clean them is? I've been just doing hand soap and a Q-Tip because thats what I used for my actual retainer. What do you do?
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