Periodontal health and compliance: A comparison between Essix and Hawley retainers

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Many studies on removable retainers have focused on retention efficacy and characteristics. However, studies on plaque accumulation, periodontal health, breakages, and patient compliance are still lacking. Thus, in this study, we aimed at evaluating these parameters in 2 groups of young patients wearing Essix or Hawley retainers for a 6-month period.


Seventy subjects were included. Periodontal health was investigated by measuring the plaque, gingival, calculus, and bleeding on probing indexes. Evaluations were performed at 1, 3, and 6 months of wearing. Accumulation of plaque on the retainers was also evaluated. Furthermore, compliance on wearing retainers and breakage data were collected by specific questionnaires.


Subjects wearing Essix retainers had significantly higher levels of plaque, gingival, and calculus indexes and increased percentages of bleeding sites, compared with subjects wearing Hawley retainers. The Essix group also had increased accumulations of plaque and calculus on the retainers. Nonetheless, subjects of the Essix group had better overall experiences, self-perceptions, and comfort compared with those of the Hawley group. Essix retainers had higher incidences of little and serious breakages compared with Hawley retainers.


Our results suggest that Essix retainers are well accepted by patients for their esthetic and oral comfort characteristics. However, Essix retainers may cause greater accumulations of plaque on both teeth and retainers, presumably because of inhibition of the cleaning effect of saliva caused by the thermoplastic material or the reduced opportunity for good hygiene on the retainer.

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