Cost-effectiveness and patient satisfaction: Hawley and vacuum-formed retainers

Eur J Orthod. 2007 Aug;29(4):372-8. doi: 10.1093/ejo/cjm039.


In the United Kingdom (UK) over the last 10 years, there has been a significant increase in the use of vacuum-formed retainers (VFRs) rather than conventional Hawley retainers. There are currently no data to compare the cost-effectiveness of this change in practice. The two aims of this study were to compare (1) the cost-effectiveness of VFRs and Hawley retainers over 6 months, from the perspective of the National Health Service, orthodontic practice, and the patient and (2) patient satisfaction in the two retainer groups. A randomized controlled trial (RCT) was carried out in a specialist orthodontic practice. Three hundred and ninety-seven eligible patients were randomized to one of two retainer groups, and followed up for 6 months. All subjects were invited to complete patient satisfaction questionnaires. Additional data were collected for the cost analysis from the patient records and national databases. Descriptive and bivariate analyses were used to compare patient satisfaction between retainer groups. In all, 196 subjects were randomized to the Hawley group (mean age 14 years 8 months, 63 per cent female, 37 per cent male) and 201 to the VFR group (mean age 15 years, 59 per cent female, 41 per cent male). VFRs were more cost-effective than Hawley retainers from all perspectives. The majority of subjects showed a preference for VFRs compared with Hawley retainers. There were also fewer breakages than in the Hawley group.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cost of Illness
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Orthodontic Appliance Design
  • Orthodontic Retainers*
  • Orthodontics / economics
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Secondary Prevention
  • State Dentistry / economics
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom
  • Vacuum