Comparison of vacuum-formed and Hawley retainers: A systematic review

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Hawley retainers (HRs) and vacuum-formed retainers (VFRs) are the 2 most commonly used retainers in orthodontics. However, the basis for selection of an appropriate retainer is still a matter of debate among orthodontists. In this systematic review, we evaluated the differences between VFRs and HRs.


Electronic databases (PubMed, EMBASE, Cochrane Library, ISI Web of Science, LILACS, and Pro-Quest) were searched with no language restriction. The relevant orthodontic journals and reference lists were checked for all eligible studies. Two article reviewers independently screened the retrieved studies, extracted the data, and evaluated the quality of the primary studies.


A total of 89 articles were retrieved in the initial search. However, only 7 articles met the inclusion criteria. Some evidence suggested that no difference exists to distinguish between the HRs and VFRs with respect to changes in intercanine and intermolar widths after orthodontic retention. In terms of occlusal contacts, cost effectiveness, patient satisfaction, and survival time, there was insufficient evidence to support the use of VFRs over HRs.


Additional high-quality, randomized, controlled trials concerning these retainers are necessary to determine which retainer is better for orthodontic procedures.

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