The Ultimate Showdown: Hawley vs. Clear Retainers

Welcome to the grand stage of orthodontics, where the time-honored champion, the Hawley retainer, faces off against the sleek newcomer, clear retainers, featuring stars like the Essix, Zendura, and Vivera retainers. It’s not just a comparison; it’s an epic showdown to see which contender is the best fit for your gleaming smile.

But don’t worry, we’re here to dissect this battle with humor, expertise, and a dash of dental geekiness. Let’s jump into this retainer comparison guide and discover which contender you should be rooting for.

Act 1: Introductions — Comparing Hawley & Clear Retainers

Let’s meet our contenders a little more intimately.

  • Hawley Retainer: The old-school, reliable workhorse. Crafted from acrylic and metal wire, it’s the dependable pickup truck of retainers, boasting a legacy of proven effectiveness and resilience. When you see an old-school retainer in movies, this is the retainer that you see.
  • Clear Retainers: This category includes the Essix retainer, Zendura retainer, and the robust Vivera retainer by Invisalign. These are the streamlined, modern sports cars of the retainer world, offering a blend of aesthetic appeal and comfort, all while being nearly invisible to the casual observer.

Act 2: Strengths & Weaknesses – Breaking Down the Competition

Hawley Retainer


  • Durability — These retainers are built to last, capable of enduring years of use with proper care.
  • Adjustability — Minor dental adjustments? Possible, but tricky. Your orthodontist can fine-tune these retainers as needed.
  • Cleaning Ease — Simple to clean, ensuring hygiene doesn’t become a Herculean task.


  • Visibility — More noticeable than their clear counterparts, they don’t shy away from announcing their presence.
  • Comfort — The bulkier design and metal wires may take some getting used to, initially offering a less comfortable fit.
  • Price Tag — The initial investment might be higher due to additional lab costs

Clear Retainers (Essix, Zendura, & Vivera)


  • Stealth Mode — Wear them discreetly, without calling attention to your orthodontic adventures.
  • Comfort First — Generally offering a more comfortable fit than Hawleys, they’re less intrusive in daily wear.
  • Hygienic Design — Easy to maintain and clean, without hidden spots for bacteria to party.
  • Retention — Fully wraps around the teeth, doing a better job of holding those pearly whites in place.


  • Wear & Tear — They may need replacing more often due to material wear, adding to long-term costs.
  • Durability — These retainers tend to wear out faster than their metal and acrylic counterparts.

Act 3: Dr. Sudit’s Clinical Insights

When the curtain rises on the decision-making process between Hawley and clear retainers, Dr. Sudit offers his clinical wisdom. “The choice heavily depends on the unique needs and lifestyles of my patients,” he notes. “For those requiring long-lasting retainers, where appearance isn’t a concern, Hawley could be the ticket due to its robustness. Conversely, for patients for whom aesthetics or comfort are key, the clear retainers often take center stage.” Lastly, “We use Retain (Zendura) retainers do to their easy subscriptions/on-demand options, their comfortable fit, and their amazing ability to retain all of our hard work!” Read more about Retain at:

Act 4: Lifestyle Considerations in the Spotlight

Your lifestyle plays a starring role in choosing the right retainer. Here’s what to consider before taking your bow:

  • If You’re Camera-Shy — Opt for clear retainers if you prefer to keep your orthodontic history under wraps.
  • For The Active Ensemble — Athletes or the physically active might find the durability of Hawley retainers more reassuring against rough and tumble (although you likely won’t be wearing these during the day. For those rough dreamers maybe???
  • Forgetful Performers — Prone to misplacing things? The cost of replacing Hawley retainers can add up, making Clear retainers a more budget-friendly encore.

Final Act: The Decision

Who takes the spotlight in the showdown between Hawley and clear retainers? It turns out, the spotlight shines on both, depending on your personal script — your needs, preferences, and lifestyle. Here’s a quick guide to your curtain call:

  • Applaud For Hawley If — You’re looking for durability and adjustability over the long run.
  • Give A Standing Ovation For Clear Retainers If — Your priorities include stealth mode, comfort, and a better price point.

Remember, the best retainer is the one you’ll actually wear as directed. The end goal is always to preserve that show-stopping smile you’ve worked so hard to achieve.

Encore: Before You Exit Stage Left

  • Dialogue With Your Orthodontist — They’re the director of your smile’s journey and can provide personalized advice.
  • Consider Your Daily Script — Choose a retainer that fits seamlessly into your life’s narrative.
  • Plan For The Long Run — Your retainer is a long-term investment in your smile’s legacy. Choose wisely!

Our partnership with RETAIN, a retainer subscription program, means you won’t have to worry about a lost, gross, or damaged retainer. You decide how often you want a new retainer delivered right to your door. Then, the only thing you have to remember is to wear it!

And there it is — a standing ovation-worthy guide to choosing between Hawley and clear retainers. Whichever route you choose, wear your retainer with pride, knowing it’s the secret to keeping your smile in the spotlight. Now, take a bow, and let your brilliantly maintained smile steal the show!