Types Of Retainers: Hawley, Essix, and Permanent (Bonded) | Mewing.coach

Types Of Retainers: Hawley, Essix, and Permanent (Bonded)


    Types of orthodontic retainers

    Even though you can achieve a straight smile with orthodontic treatment, it’s crucial to maintain it with the right measures, like using retainers, to prevent any unwanted movement of your teeth.

    Picking the correct dental retainer isn’t just about looks; it’s about protecting the beautiful smile you worked hard to achieve. An evaluation available in Uconn, shows that whether it’s Hawley, Essix, or permanent retainers, each type influences how your teeth behave after treatment.

    Let’s dig deeper into the types of retainers, as learning about their differences and effectiveness is crucial to keeping your teeth perfectly aligned.


    Dental Retainers Comparison Table By Type

    Type Hawley (removable) Essix (removable) Permanent / Fixed / Bonded
    Material Acrylic/plastic with metal wire Clear, medical-grade plastic Bonded composite or metal wire
    Visibility Metal wire is noticeable, acrylic less so Nearly invisible Not visible
    Comfort Can initially irritate gums and tongue, Most comfortable, smooth, less bulky May irritate tongue initially, minimal speech impact
    Durability Moderately durable, prone to breakage if dropped Highly durable, less prone to breakage Most durable, permanent fixture
    Aesthetics Less aesthetically pleasing due to metal wire Most aesthetically pleasing, virtually invisible Not visible, but may alter tongue placement slightly
    Removability Yes, easily removable for cleaning and eating Yes, easily removable for cleaning and eating No, permanently fixed to teeth
    Speech Impediment Slight lisp initially, fades with time Minimal to no speech impact No speech impact
    Maintenance Daily brushing and soaking, Daily brushing and soaking, Requires minimal maintenance, occasional professional cleaning
    Cost Most affordable option Moderately expensive Most expensive option
    Long-Term Use Not ideal for long-term, may require replacements Ideal for long-term use, durable and comfortable Permanent solution, no replacements needed

    Essix Retainer (Removable)

    For orthodontic patients eager to maintain their newly straightened teeth, Essix retainers offer a clear advantage over traditional metal options. Crafted from virtually invisible, medical-grade transparent plastic, Essix retainers provide a discreet and comfortable way to keep your smile picture-perfect.

    The secret behind Essix retainers’ magic lies in their innovative material. They are crafted from a clear sheet of co-polyester vacuum-formed over a dental model. The material is strong, flexible, BPA-free plastic like polyvinyl chloride.

    For those seeking an even more discreet and durable option, Essix ACE material is thinner and sturdier than traditional Essix plastics. Essix ACE, also known as Essix Plus, is ideal for patients who prioritize both invisibility and comfort.

    If you’re looking for a way to maintain your beautiful smile after orthodontic treatment, go for orthodontic Essix retainer solution with optimal stealthiness.

    How Essix Retainers work?

    Essix retainers work by gently applying continuous pressure to your teeth, keeping them in their desired position after orthodontic treatment. The medical-grade plastic of Essix retainers fits perfectly over your teeth, and this snug fit is crucial to their function.

    The pressure applied by Essix retainers is similar to the pressure applied by braces or aligners, but much gentler.

    The custom-molded design of Essix retainers ensures that the pressure is evenly distributed throughout your dental arch. This helps to prevent any unwanted gaps or misalignments from developing.

    Benefits of Essix Retainers

    Opting for Essix retainers to maintain your teeth alignment comes with the following benefits:

    • They are discreet, thanks to their clear plastic construction.
    • Easy to take out for eating, drinking, and brushing.
    • Smooth and comfortable to wear all day.
    • Made from strong, medical-grade plastics that can last for years with proper care.

    Drawbacks of Essix Retainers

    While Essix retainers offer a discreet and comfortable way to maintain your smile after orthodontic treatment, they do have a couple of drawbacks to consider:

    • They are less durable than metal retainers, more prone to cracking or warping.
    • Need to be worn consistently for at least 12 months to be effective.
    • Can be misplaced or lost

    Check out Remi’s virtually undetectable, custom-made clear retainers.

    Best Retainers
    Remi custom clear removable retainers
    Trusted by dental professionals
    Minimize the risk of shifting
    45-night perfect fit guarantee
    HSA/FSA eligible
    Budget-friendly, high-quality Essix retainers

    Hawley Retainer (Removable)

    Hawley retainers ensure your teeth stay put after you’ve achieved that perfect smile with braces or aligners. These trusty orthodontic companions are crafted from two key components:

    1. The Acrylic Base: This custom-molded acrylic plate sits snugly against the palate (roof of your mouth) or lingual surface (behind your lower teeth). It acts as a stable foundation for the next crucial element.
    2. The Metal Wire: This thin, yet sturdy metal wire gracefully wraps around the front of your teeth, applying gentle pressure to hold them in their desired positions. The wire is anchored within the acrylic base and often features omega loops for adjustments by your orthodontist.

    Seeing before and after hawley retainer results, the difference is undeniable. They prevent teeth from shifting back to their pre-treatment positions, preserving your hard-earned smile.

    How do Hawley Retainers Work?

    Hawley retainers, with their blend of acrylic and metal, actively work to maintain that perfect smile you achieved with orthodontic treatment. The thin metal wires wrap around your teeth and apply constant, gentle pressure. This pressure guides your teeth, preventing them from drifting back to their old positions.

    The custom-molded acrylic base provides a snug fit against the roof of your mouth (palate) or behind your lower teeth (lingual surface). This stable foundation evenly distributes the wire’s pressure, ensuring comfort and preventing irritation.

    Hawley Retainers Pros

    There are several advantages of using Hawley retainers, listed below:

    • Their material is durable and long-lasting
    • Hawley retainers are easy to clean and you can easily remove them for for meals or drinks
    • They are customizable for optimal comfort
    • Hawley retainers are proven to be effective in maintaining tooth alignment

    Cons of Hawley Retainers

    Some downsides are there with Hawley retainers, such as:

    • They are more noticeable than some other retainers due to the metal wire
    • The acrylic plate can feel bulky and affect speech

    Bonded (Fixed) Retainer (Permanent)

    Bonded or fixed retainers are thin wires, typically made of stainless steel or other resilient materials, permanently affixed to the back of your front teeth. Unlike their removable counterparts, bonded retainers offer a discreet way to maintain your newfound smile. They work by gently applying pressure to your teeth, preventing them from shifting back to their pre-treatment positions.

    Fixed retainers are bonded to your teeth using a special, strong adhesive. Typically, they’re placed on the lingual surfaces (backs) of the four to six front teeth, ensuring maximum effectiveness while remaining largely invisible.

    While convenient and permanent, noticeably higher permanent retainer cost can be a factor. Depending on the material used and your orthodontist’s fees, expect to pay between $150 and $500 for permanent retainers.

    How Bonded Retainers Work?

    Bonded retainers constantly prevent your teeth from regressing. The thin wires, bonded to the backs of your teeth, act like mini braces. They apply continuous, gentle pressure, effectively guiding your teeth and holding them in their desired positions.

    Unlike removable retainers, bonded ones offer unwavering support, 24/7. This consistent pressure ensures your teeth don’t succumb to natural shifting forces, keeping your smile picture-perfect for the long haul.

    Advantages of Bonded Retainers

    The advantages of bonded retainers are:

    • They are virtually invisible, offering effortless post orthodontic treatment care.
    • No risk of forgetting or misplacing them, ensuring continuous tooth alignment.
    • Consistent pressure effectively prevents teeth from reverting to previous positions.
    • Long-lasting solution, eliminating the need for frequent replacements.

    Disadvantages of Bonded Retainers

    The permanence and maintenance of bonded retainers might not suit everyone. Here are a few drawbacks to consider:

    • Flossing requires extra care and dexterity due to the fixed wires.
    • Removal requires professional intervention, limiting future flexibility.
    • Initial adjustment period, with possible irritation from the bonded wires.
    • Compared to removable options, the initial placement cost can be higher.

    Factors to Consider When Choosing Between the Types Of Retainers

    When deciding on the right type of retainer for your dental needs, consider factors such as comfort, durability, and maintenance. Opting for a retainer that suits your lifestyle and preferences ensures better compliance and overall effectiveness.

    Weighing the following factors together with expert orthodontic advice will lead you to the perfect smile-sustaining retainer.

    Orthodontic Treatment History

    The type of orthodontic treatment plays a big role. Extensive teeth movement with braces might call for the continuous pressure of bonded retainers, while minor adjustments after aligners might favor Essix’s flexibility.

    Existing dental issues like gaps or bite misalignment can also influence the choice. Bonded retainers offer targeted control for specific concerns, while Hawley’s wider reach might be ideal for broader alignment needs.

    Remember, even with the perfect retainer, teeth moving with retainer is a possibility, especially in the initial stages. Regular checkups with your orthodontist are crucial to ensure your smile stays on track!

    Oral Health Considerations

    Your retainer choice should align with your dental hygiene habits. Diligent brushers and flossers may find removable Essix and Hawley retainers convenient, while those forgetful benefit from bonded retainers’ constant presence.

    Considering oral health is important. Essix suits teeth prone to gum disease, while Hawley provides extra support. Discuss your dental routine and health with your orthodontist to choose a retainer that complements your habits and ensures a radiant smile.

    Considering Braces

    Retainers do an excellent job of maintaining your teeth in their new positions after orthodontic treatment. However, they can’t actively move teeth like braces can. Braces apply controlled pressure, gradually guiding your teeth into the desired alignment, addressing issues like crowding, gaps, and misalignment that retainers can’t fix.

    Braces are the hard workers in orthodontic treatment, creating the path for your perfect smile. Retainers, on the other hand, become reliable guardians, preserving your smile’s alignment. Both have distinct roles, so consulting your orthodontist about the right tool ensures you achieve the smile you deserve!

    Long-Term Commitment

    Choosing a retainer involves balancing commitment and convenience. Removable options like Essix and Hawley require discipline, with specific wear schedules crucial for success.

    The duration of wear depends on your treatment. Therefore, discussing how long do you have to wear a retainer with your orthodontist gives you a clear idea about your unique treatment plan.

    On the other hand, bonded retainers provide 24/7 support, ideal for busy lifestyles or those forgetful about removable options. However, their permanence may not suit everyone. Your commitment level and comfort with removable or permanent options are key. Discuss your lifestyle with your orthodontist to find the retainer aligning perfectly with your dedication and smile goals!

    Financial Considerations

    Orthodontic retainer cost is undoubtedly a matter of prime consideration. Those with a limited budget may prefer a cost-effective option despite a few drawbacks. While some might prioritize convenience and suitability over a higher cost.

    Bonded retainers are an upfront investment, but their permanence avoids future replacements. On the other hand, Essix Retainers are initially budget-friendly, but occasional replacements may add to long-term costs, along with cleaning supplies.

    The initial cost of Hawley retainers is similar to Essix. However, they are sturdier with potentially fewer replacements (adjustments may contribute to expenses.)

    Retainers FAQ

    What makes a retainer the “best” choice for post-orthodontic care?

    The best retainer choice depends on your lifestyle, budget, and desired level of commitment. Discuss individual needs with your orthodontist for the perfect smile-preserving match.

    How often should users replace their retainers for optimal results?

    Essix and Hawley retainers might need replacements every 6-12 months, while bonded retainers last for life. Consult your orthodontist for specific recommendations.

    Can adults benefit from dental retainers, or are they primarily for teenagers?

    Absolutely! Adults can benefit from retainers to maintain alignment after treatment or address minor shifting due to age or other factors.

    Are dental retainers custom-made for each individual, or are there one-size-fits-all options?

    Retainers are typically molded to your exact teeth for optimal fit and effectiveness. Generic options rarely offer the necessary precision.


    From discreet Essix retainers to permanent bonded options, the retainer world offers a choice for every individual! Remember, the “best” retainer depends on your unique needs and lifestyle.

    Embrace informed decision-making with your orthodontist, choosing the perfect partner to keep your smile straight and shining for years to come. Consistent care, no matter the type, is your key to unlocking lasting orthodontic success!

    How useful was this post?


    Vote count: 0

    Thank you for rating this post!

    Head of Content, orthodontist, a face yoga instructor with over 20 years of experience.

    Sculpt your face into desired look with mewing. Answer a quick quiz to receive your workout program.

    Take The Quiz