Hawley Retainer: All You Need to Know

The quest for a straighter and better smile does not end when your orthodontic treatment is over. You have to wear a retainer to ensure that your new smile is maintained.

Among the available retainers that you can use, the Hawley retainer is the most popular and trusted type of retainer that you can use. It is one of the oldest and most proven removable retainers that you can get. The Hawley retainer is very popular among all age groups since it is heavily recommended by most orthodontists due to its durability and quality.

So, if you want to keep your new smile and not waste the money you spent on your orthodontic treatment, you should consider getting a Hawley retainer for your orthodontic post-treatment.

What is a Hawley retainer used for?

A retainer is required to make sure that your teeth will not move back to their original position. It is the best way to keep your new smile longer by making sure that the new position of your teeth is stabilized. This is the final step when it comes to the teeth straightening process.

Without a retainer, there is a possibility that your teeth can shift and move back to their original position in time. This will put all the money you have invested in your orthodontic treatment to waste and you definitely do not want to start all over again. If you use your Hawley retainer regularly, you do not have to worry about this or need any future treatment.

How does a Hawley retainer work?

The Hawley retainer is made out of metal and plastic. Just like your braces, retainers have to be custom molded to fit your mouth and your new smile.

The metal wire will sit against the six front teeth and loops on the canines. The loops help to keep the new position of your teeth. Because of the way the wires are positioned on the front teeth, it will be obvious that you are wearing one.

Just like braces, a Hawley retainer can be adjusted from time to time so you have no problem if changes need to be made.

The fact that the Hawley retainer is also removable means you will have lesser restrictions when it comes to food. You can simply take it off and store it in its case while eating and then put it back again after you brush your teeth. There is no need to worry about food debris getting stuck on your retainer or not being able to eat well.

Hawley retainers: look and design

Hawley retainers may not be clear or invisible – the wires make them obvious when worn. However, since it can be seen, you can have fun with it through colors. The retainers are available in a wide variety of colors and they can be printed out with fun designs too.

The colored part of the retainer is the acrylic or hard plastic plate that will be sitting on the roof of your mouth. This plate is connected to the metal wires that keep your retainer in place when you wear it. This part can be colored or printed – you can even have the color and print customized so you can have an entirely unique retainer.

For those who worry that a colored or printed Hawley retainer will look tacky, take note that the plate will be fitted on the roof of the mouth… it will not be totally visible unless someone is really sitting or standing close to you.

Now you may be wondering about discoloration. Previous Hawley retainer users would recommend you to avoid getting a light color like shades of gray or white – it has been noted that bright tones like blue and red can maintain their color for a long time.

In case your retainer breaks, you can have the Hawley retainer repaired. The plate will have to be re-cast in the process and you can take this as a chance to try out a new color or design.

Hawley retainers: pricing

A Hawley retainer will normally cost you between $350 and $600. The overall price will include customization and shipping fees involved to send the molds from your orthodontist to the production facility and back again to your orthodontist.

The final price will depend on a lot of factors. The region where you are being treated, the orthodontist you choose, and any specifics on your dental case can affect the total cost.

Although a Hawley retainer may cost more than some clear plastic retainers, you also have to keep in mind that a single retainer is made to last for many years while clear plastic retainers have to be replaced frequently. Basically, you will be paying less in the long run with a Hawley retainer.

In case you lose the retainer, it will basically cost you the same price to have it replaced. You will probably be asked to pay an extra fee for the office visit you will make, which is required to ensure that your customized Hawkey retainer will fit.

If your insurance covers braces treatment, it is possible to have your Hawley retainer covered as well.

Hawley retainer pros and cons

Of course, like any retainer, the Hawley retainer still has its own pros and cons:


  • Hawley retainers are a lot more durable compared to other retainers. And if it does break, it can be repaired – unlike other retainers that need to be totally replaced.
  • Hawley retainers are made out of materials that make it easier to adjust to your needs and for a custom fit.
  • Hawley retainers are removable, making them easy to clean and maintain. This also means lesser food restrictions for you.
  • Hawley retainers are now available in new designs and colors – there is a lot of design to choose from so you will surely find one that fits your preferences.


  • They look obvious on your teeth when worn so there is no room for discretion.
  • They require a higher standard of dedication when it comes to usage and maintenance.


Is a Hawley retainer better?

At a first glance, the Hawley retainer might seem to be on the pricey side. But as you can see from this review, you will be getting your money’s worth. It is a durable retainer that can last for a couple of years and in case you break it, it can be repaired. If you do not mind making it obvious that you are wearing one, a Hawley retainer is a better choice to maintain the improved positions of your teeth.

Can a Hawley retainer move teeth?

The answer is no. You can not use a retainer to move your teeth. A retainer does not work the same way as braces do. They are simply designed to protect the new position of your teeth after you are done with your orthodontic treatment. So, it is basically something that you get to use after you are done using braces.

Teeth movement even after orthodontic treatment is actually normal. Just like as parts of the body changes when we age, your mouth and teeth will be affected as well. This is why you have to wear your retainers religiously.

If you have been neglecting to wear your retainer and your teeth have shifted, putting on your retainer regularly after the shift will not move your teeth back to how it was after your orthodontic treatment. You will be needing braces again to make your teeth shift back to the right place.

A second round of orthodontic treatment can be a hassle and it will be expensive. To avoid this from happening, make sure that you wear your Hawley retainer as instructed by your orthodontist all the time.

This is the case no matter what type of retainer you will go for after your treatment.

How often will I be wearing a retainer?

At first, your orthodontist will recommend that you wear a retainer every day for it to be effective. But as time passes, the need to wear them will lessen.

For the first few months, you will be told to wear the retainers for most of the day. Eventually, you will only have to wear it at night while you sleep.

How should I take care of my retainer?

Just as like plaque can build up on your teeth, it can also do the same for your retainer so proper care is critical for great oral hygiene. Here are a few tips that you should keep in mind when cleaning your retainers:

Soak them when not in use

This will help your retainers stay clean and moist when they are not in use.

Use baking soda

When cleaning your retainers, use a bit of baking soda. It is a natural cleaning agent that can kill bacteria. Another way to clean your retainers with baking soda is to soak your retainer and your storage case in baking soda and water overnight once or twice a month. When you do this, make sure that you rinse everything with water thoroughly before using them again.

Give it a gentle brush

Your retainers will require regular brushing, just like your teeth. Get a separate toothbrush for your retainers and brush them gently so that you will not damage them. When doing so, make sure you use a denture cleaner – not toothpaste. Toothpaste can damage the plastic material of the retainer.


Remember that your retainer’s effectiveness depends greatly on how disciplined you are. Treat them just as much as you have treated your braces in a way that you use them as directed and that you clean them regularly.

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