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Hawley Retainer: Is It the Right Treatment for You?

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Completing your braces journey is exciting and indicates progress. The next step you can now look forward to is wearing the retainers to maintain your new smile.

A retainer is a device that is worn to help keep teeth from moving out of place after orthodontic treatment. Orthodontists often recommend retainers for people who have had braces and need to maintain a beautiful smile and keep their teeth straight.

In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about the Hawley retainer so you can decide if it is the right option for you.

What is a Hawley Retainer?

A Hawley retainer is a custom-made appliance that uses a metal wire and acrylic material to hold your teeth to their desired position.

The retainer is anchored in a customized acrylic baseplate that sits on the roof of the mouth. A wire runs through it and fits over the front teeth to hold them in place naturally. An orthodontist can also customize a Hawley retainer with fake teeth to fill in any missing teeth if you have any gaps at the front teeth.

The main function of the Hawley retainer on teeth is to provide stability and prevent the teeth from moving back into their original position after orthodontic treatment.

What are the Pros and Cons of Hawley Retainers?

Hawley retainers are an excellent option for many patients. However, the extent to which the patient complies with the doctor’s recommendations significantly affects how effective the retainer is.

Although they have been in the market for a long time and are often the first solution orthodontists recommend, they still have some pros and cons.

  • Prevent teeth from shifting
  • Have a lower risk of failure
  • Easily removed for cleaning
  • Adjustable and customizable for each patient
  • Durable
  • Repairable if broken
  • May irritate the gums, lips, or tongue
  • Can initially develop a lisp in speech
  • Removable devices can be forgotten/lost easily
  • Relapse is possible if not regularly worn
  • Wire across teeth is visible

What is the Color of a Hawley Retainer?

The good news about the Hawley retainers is that they are available in a variety of different colors.

Since Hawley retainers are made of acrylic and can be cast in any color, it is possible to custom-make them according to customers’ preferences in different colors and patterns. Some fun designs include tie-and-dyes, stars, and even patterned strips. The wrap around Hawley retainer can also be customized in nearly any color.

colors hawley retainer

You can easily choose your fun and bright Hawley retainer colors without worrying whether they will be noticeable. If your retainer is broken, you can have another chance to select new Hawley retainer colors and designs.

How Long to Wear a Hawley Retainer?

The key to success with a Hawley retainer is wearing it as instructed by your dentist. But when is a Hawley retainer used? Most people wear Hawley retainers day and night for several months but later transition to nighttime use only

Be sure to take it out when eating or brushing your teeth, and keep it safe in a storage case, so you don’t lose it. 

If you have lost your retainer or don’t wear it regularly, your treatment efforts will be lost. Relapse is likely, and you may have to get back into treatment again, consequently costing you more time and money.

If you are wondering how long Hawley retainers last, you may be surprised to learn that Hawley retainers are made to last for several years. They can last a lifetime if they are cared for properly and don’t get lost. Clean retainers at least once daily using a toothbrush and warm water.

In case of damage, you should contact your dentist immediately if you are wondering how to fix cracked retainers. They are able to fix a broken retainer if it has minor damage or get you another one.

How to Clean Hawley Retainer?

Keeping your Hawley retainer clean is essential to its longevity. Ideally, you should clean it at least once a day. Here are some tips on how to clean Hawley retainers.

Do not use any harsh mouthwash or toothpaste as it may erode the retainer’s surface area. Soak your retainers overnight in warm water with baking soda – one teaspoon for every cup of water. 

Apart from that, you can also use a retainer cleaning solution to kill any germs. Rinse with warm water and let dry before wearing again.

How to Buy Hawley Retainer?

Buying a Hawley retainer should be done after you have completed your orthodontic treatment. Hawley retainers are custom-made to fit your mouth, so it’s usually best to visit a dentist or an orthodontist for a fitting.

Book a consultation with your orthodontist to determine whether Hawley retainers are suitable for you.

You can also order Hawley retainers and have them shipped directly to you. If you want to buy Hawley retainers online, you should ensure that the site is reputable and has good reviews from previous customers.

You should follow these steps to get a retainer from online retailers.

A Hawley retainer price varies depending on where you get it and how it is made. 

Your orthodontic treatment’s final cost may include the purchase of your Hawley retainer. Additionally, if your insurance covers the cost of your orthodontic treatment, it may also cover the retainer.

How Much Does a Hawley Retainer Cost?

The cost of a Hawley retainer depends on several factors, including where you are treated, your orthodontist charges, the complexity of your case, and how long you need it. The good news is that the price of a Hawley retainer is typically affordable. 

The average cost of a Hawley retainer is between $150 and $500 for one or between $300 and $600 for a set.

While estimating your total costs, you may also have to include dental office visits separately and any replacement retainers you need if yours gets broken. The average cost for a replacement Hawley retainer is likely the cost of a new retainer, which averages between $150 and $500.

What are Hawley Retainer Alternatives?

While the Hawley retainer is the most popular treatment used to keep straight teeth after orthodontic treatment, some people have had an unpleasant experience using it.

There are other options available for your consideration that include; clear plastics and fixed retainers. 

Studies have found the Hawley retainer effective in maintaining alignment, especially the bottom Hawley retainer. On the other hand, upper arches changed slightly in the participants wearing the upper Hawley retainer compared to those who used the clear plastic retainers.

Clear Plastic Retainer

alternative hawley retainer

This type of retention device is made from a transparent plastic material and is placed over your teeth and holds them in place.  It is also known as a molded retainer. 

Plastic retainers are clear, almost invisible, easy to clean, and cheaper than Hawley retainers. 

Some popular plastic retainers are Vivera and Essix. If you compare Vivera retainers vs Essix retainers, you notice that Essix retainers are thinner and less costly.   

However, since it is a plastic material, it can easily break and only lasts for a few months before you need a replacement.

Fixed Lingual Retainer

ligual retainers fixed

A fixed lingual retainer is a permanent retainer placed on the inside of the lower jaw instead of the front teeth. This type of retainer is made from a metal wire or ceramic material and is more expensive than the Hawley retainer models. 

The orthodontist cements the wire at the back teeth, which remains fixed until the orthodontist removes it. Since the wire is fixed inside, the retainer is less visible than other devices.

Hawley Retainer vs Clear Retainer

If you are considering retainers, you need to factor in the benefits and drawbacks of each retainer and determine which one is better suited for your needs.

The Hawley retainers are a type of retainer that has been around for decades. The clear retainers, considered the modern retainer, are transparent and molded on your teeth for a custom fit.

Here is a table that looks into the differences between the two options regarding materials used, durability and cost. 

Hawley RetainerClear Retainer
Material used
    Metal Wire and Acrylic
    Clear Plastic
    5-10 Years
    1-5 Years
    $300-$600 a set
    $150-$300 a set
    Many Color Options
    Easy to clean
    Transparent therefore not visible
    Easy to use
    Custom fit
    Easy to get lost when removed
    Initial difficult to adapt
    Visible on front teeth
    Cannot be repaired if broken
    Replaced often
    Easy to get dental problems if not correctly cleaned


Hawley retainers are an effective and affordable treatment option for people who have completed their orthodontic treatment. The device offers several other advantages to maintaining your smile.

Whereas there are several options for retainers in the market today, such as Vivera and Essix, the Hawley retainer has remained the most popular.

You should always consult your dentist to help you select and create a retainer perfect for you. For each retainer, consider the material it’s made of, how to use it, and how much it will cost you.


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