A young woman holding a dental retainer and a tray

Hawley Retainer: Proven To Maintain Your Straight Smile

Published date field Last Updated:

Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

You got your braces. You wore your braces. And your smile looks great because of your braces. So now what? Well, to keep that smile great (and straight), you should introduce yourself to the Hawley retainer. The Hawley retainer stabilizes your teeth in the same position as the bone surrounding them hardens into place. This is the final step in the teeth straightening process, so patience is essential. 

What Are the Elements of a Hawley Retainer

The Hawley retainer, one of the most trusted orthodontic post-braces appliances, is removable and consists of plastic and metal that's custom-molded to fit your teeth and mouth. Wires sit over your front six teeth while loops near your canines can be adjusted once your teeth settle to their final resting spot. It should be worn and managed carefully as the wires and plastic allow it to be damaged easily. After a few months of regular wear with your retainer, your orthodontist may allow you to wear it less and less each day — but at the outset, your orthodontist will recommend you wear it for most of the day for it to be effective.

How To Care for Your Hawley Retainer

When you combine the retainer's cost and delicate makeup, responsibly looking after your Hawley retainer is critical. Losing it at school (thrown out with their lunch) is very common, but so is a slight repair or readjustment due to minor neglect. Needing a new or repaired retainer can take up to a week, which will push back the treatment timeline it provides. To appropriately care for and store your Hawley retainer:

  • Clean it daily and remove bacteria and food particles
  • Notice how cleaning it with hot water affects its shape and fit
  • Keep it away from heat and hot water
  • Store it in its case when not wearing

How To Clean Your Hawley Retainer

As tartar and plaque can build up on your teeth, too, can they build up on your retainer. Thus, it's important to clean your retainer diligently and correctly. There are a few things you should do when cleaning:

  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and brush it gently with your toothpaste
  • Soak it in a cleaning agent to freshen it up and kill germs
  • Follow your orthodontist advice on proper retainer cleaning etiquette

A Hawley retainer is very common across multiple age groups. Most people – children and adults – need to wear them for a period after removing their braces. But the good news is you have a beautiful smile waiting for you! Obtaining and maintaining a straight, functional, and desirable grin of teeth will build confidence and allow for a lifetime of healthy dental visits.

Consider the Hawley retainer the last leg in your teeth straightening journey. It's a slight hurdle that has your best smile ready for you at the finish line. Remember to check in with your orthodontist for any questions or concerns you have with your retainer.

Oral Care Center articles are reviewed by an oral health medical professional. This information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist, physician or other qualified healthcare provider. 

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