Hawley vs Essix Retainers

Though there are many brands of retainers out there, there are by most accounts two top brands that most orthodontists prefer – the Hawley and the Essix.  If you’re in need of new retainers, it’s important that you understand the differences between these two before you visit our office.

Option 1: Hawley Retainer

Hawley is the most commonly used retainer, and it is a traditional type of retainer that secures the teeth in place using a metal wire. This wire sits across the front of the teeth and is attached to an acrylic arch which sits on the roof of the mouth. These wires are adjustable, and can be tightened or loosen as needed.

Option 2: Essix Retainer

The Essix retainer, in contrast, is made completely of plastic, specifically it’s made of a polyvinylchloride and polypropylene material. It is very thin (just .020-.030 inches thick) and is transparent, molded to your mouth, and sits over the arch of your teeth.

Key Differences

Teeth Grinding

Chronic teeth grinding (also called bruxism) is a rather common dental issue.  Some dentists have expressed concerns about using dental appliances such as braces and retainers in patients with this issue. The Essix retainer covers the teeth, because it’s created from a moldable material. Therefore it can wear out with constant activities such as grinding, biting, and chewing. So in this case, a Hawley retainer is a better option over the Essix for those patients who suffer from this type of issue.

Aesthetic Appearance

Hawleys have visible metal wires, which is not always appealing to some patients.  Often visible dental appliances are thought to be associated with social ostracizing and self-consciousness by the wearer.  If a patient tis concerned for their self-esteem due to this reason, they may prefer to use an Essix retainer instead, as it’s transparent and less visible.

Studies have shown that there are clinically no significant differences between these two types of retainers, specifically in regards to their irregularity and stability. In summary, the biggest differences are that the Essix retainers are more visually appealing and a better aesthetic option, while Hawley retainers are better for those patients with grinding and biting issues. To learn more or to schedule your consultation, call (203) 281-3100.


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