How Much Do Retainers Cost

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How Much Retainers Cost

Once your orthodontic treatment with the traditional braces or aligners is complete, your orthodontist may recommend retainers to help keep the teeth in their new places. As the name suggests, retainers are designed to “retain” the new position of the teeth, so they don’t go back to their old location.  What retainers are, why you need them, the types of retainers, the Essix retainer cost, and everything else will be covered here. 

What is a Retainer?

What is a Retainer

A retainer is an oral appliance designed as a custom fit for patients who need them. These appliances serve to maintain the corrected alignment and position of the teeth after an orthodontic treatment using braces or aligners. These are either metal or plastic and can be removable or fixed. 

Instead of orthodontic treatment, you can also use retainers to correct simple biting issues. These can often be used alone in the case of a minor bite issue that isn’t very hard to treat. If one or two teeth are mildly crowded, retainers alone may be enough to treat the problem. 

However, suppose a retainer is being used after orthodontic treatment. In that case, its purpose is to maintain the corrected position and alignment of the teeth to avoid returning or relapsing to the pretreatment position. 

How much does a new retainer cost? In most cases, the new retainer won’t be priced separately because it is added to the charges of your orthodontic treatment. The cost of the first retainer will be added to the braces cost and will be delivered when these are removed. But what will the cost be in the case of a replacement? Here, the price depends on what type of retainer it is, how it had broken, etc. However, the replacement costs of a retainer with a newer one will be much more affordable than the cost of straightening the teeth with braces again. Nevertheless, there isn’t much of an option, especially in the case of ongoing orthodontic treatment. 

Why Do You Need to Wear Retainers? 

Why Do You Need to Wear Retainers

If you have ever worn braces, you would need to have a retainer, or at least you should wear them. In most cases, you won’t need retainers if you haven’t had braces, but they can be used sometimes to prevent teeth from moving from their place if they are already moving. Usually, retainers are only needed after the teeth are set in their perfect position and alignment with the orthodontic treatment. 

The main reason for needing retainers is that teeth hold a memory using which they can get instinctively back to their pre-treatment position, regardless of how long the braces were worn. This can be because of the movement of the tongue, lips, cheeks, etc. 

Wearing a retainer helps prevent the teeth from moving back from their new alignment. With these, your smile will remain straight, and teeth right where they should be. But for that, you’d need to ensure wearing the retainers regularly. While retainers may push the teeth gently, those that have moved a few millimeters cannot work with crooked teeth as braces do. 

Types of Retainers 

Retainers are mainly of three types; Hawley retainer, removable plastic retainer, and fixed retainer. Based on the orthodontic treatment, budget, and results, the type of retainers you may get will vary. Sometimes, you may even get two different retainers based on the orthodontic treatment recommended by your orthodontist.

1. The Hawley Retainers 

The Hawley Retainers

The most commonly used retainers after orthodontic treatment are Hawley retainers. These retainers are made up of plastic that is molded to the mouth’s basin or a roof with a thin wire running along the teeth’s front. Hawley retainers are designed to custom fit each patient and effectively maintain the teeth’s position and prevent them from shifting out of their position. 

These retainers are removable to be taken out for brushing and eating. Nevertheless, they need to be worn aside from these conditions to achieve the best results. For the first year, people often wear these retainers throughout the day. After the first year, people prefer wearing them only at night. Beyond this, it’s best to wear these retainers every other night. The cost of these retainers would be somewhere between $150 to $500, based on your dental service. 

2. Lingual / Bonded Retainers 

The Bonded Retainers

Lingual or bonded retainers are permanently attached to the front teeth’s back, preventing them from tilting, leaning, or spreading. The good thing about these retainers is that they are permanent, so they do not need to be removed, removing the risk of loss. Over time, however, the composite may loosen and need to be bonded into place back again. Since these are designed to last, you usually won’t have to pay for a replacement. If they fall, the dentist can bond them again for free. The cost for installing one permanent retainer can be around $150 to some hundred dollars. 

3. Plastic Retainers 

Plastic Retainers

Removable plastic retainers are removable, clear trays similar to Invisalign braces. These are also known as Essix retainers. These are transparent in color and are molded to fit the shape of your teeth snugly,  to hold them in place after the orthodontic treatment is complete. You may even use these for bleaching trays if your dentist suggests. Plastic retainers should always be kept away from hot areas since they can warp or melt. After different orthodontic treatments, these retainers are used, including ceramic braces, metal braces, and the Invisalign system. 

Factors Affecting the Cost of the Retainers 

Factors Affecting the Cost of the Retainers

If you need to get removable retainers, you may need to visit the scans or molds of the teeth made and material and lab fees. This is why making your retainers may cost you a few hundred dollars. Making retainers for the first time will need you to go ahead with paying some extra dollars to get a different set made just in case. You may get a discount on the second set since the first process is started. 

But what will be the cost of a new retainer if you start from scratch? The cost will vary based on the dentist who had done your treatment, the costs of the area you’re living in, the coverage of dental insurance, and the retainer type. In most cases, you can easily contact the dental office to ask them about the costs for an Essix or Hawley retainer since these are usually stand-alone, and aren’t linked with any procedures, thus having a stand-alone fee. 

What is the Cost of Retainers Without Having Insurance?

What is the Cost of Retainers Without Having Insurance

How much do retainers cost after braces? Luckily, you won’t have to pay for the first retainer since the cost is often covered within the price of the braces. But what if you’re getting the retainers separately? What would be the cost of retainers without insurance? The first look at the cost of retainers will be the one that doesn’t include any dental insurance coverage. The costs of retainers will significantly vary based on what type of retainer you need. The lowest cost is around $300, and the highest costs can go as high as $5000. Below are the costs of the retainers based on their type. 

1. Removable Hawley Retainer 

These are the most commonly used and affordable dental retainers made of metal wires and plastic. The average cost for a Hawley retainer ranges between $150 to $300, while a set of these retainers can cost up to $600. In the case of having braces, the costs of a retainer are covered on the upfront costs for treatment. Nevertheless, in the case of losing or breaking the retainer, you may need to replace it, paying between $70 to $500. 

2. Permanent Bonded Retainers 

Your dentist may occasionally recommend using permanent or bonded retainers, set at the back of the teeth, reducing their shifting over time. These retainers can range between $250 to $500 for each arch. The cost of both arches can vary between $500 to $1000. 

3. Removable Plastic Retainers 

How much do clear retainers cost? Removable plastic retainers or clear retainers are another types that are often used for keeping the teeth in place after orthodontic treatment. The cost of these retainers can vary based on whether you need a single retainer or a set. A single removable plastic retainer ranges between $100 to $250, with the set costing between $200 to $500. Invisalign retainer’s cost ranges between $300 to $700.

You wouldn’t have to worry about the retainer costs when you pay for braces without any dental insurance because they are included within the package. However, if you move to another country or state and lose or break a retainer there, you may need to get one made from another dentist in your area. For that, you may need to keep some hundred dollars with you. 

What is the Cost of Retainers with Insurance?

What is the Cost of Retainers with Insurance

The problem with insurance is that orthodontic treatment may be considered a cosmetic procedure in adulthood instead of a medical one. As a result, you may find it hard to get the dental coverage you need and deserve. Nevertheless, several dental insurance plans cover half of the overall cost of orthodontics, often including the cost of the retainer. Since retainers are orthodontic devices, you should get insurance benefits. Based on the orthodontic treatment required, if you combine your payment plan with the insurance coverage, you may be able to cover the cost over a few months or maybe a year. 

The insurance benefits for every person vary as some policies may cover more than the rest. Some insurance plans cut off when a certain age is reached or have a maximum amount set for a lifetime. The details of your insurance plan will have to be confirmed by your dental service provider. In most cases, the dental services contact the insurance company on your part and ask them to give you a breakdown of the benefits you’re supposed to get under their insurance. Here, a specific retainer cost percentage or the remaining balance can usually be covered. 

How to Get a Retainer in the Most Inexpensive Way?

How to Get a Retainer in the Most Inexpensive Way

If you want to rescue the cost of retainer, then the best way is to take good care of those retainers that come free on removing your braces. If taken care of well, these retainers can last you a lifetime.

But what can you do if you lose a retainer, damage it, or simply need a new one? What is the way to get it at the cheapest cost? Taking about the lower end, getting it straight from the dentist or orthodontist will require having a few dollars in hand. However, another option may be getting it from a dental school, if you can get one from there. You can also call your local public dentist to ask about their services. These dentists often offer the necessary treatment depending on the person’s financial need. Monetary costs may be present since retainers are specialty devices. 

Searching for a retainer can lead you to some ads and mails of retainers where you can take your impressions online. We strongly advise not to get your orthodontic devices through the internet without consulting your dentists. A wrongly fitted retainer may lead to several dental issues that may cost you several hundred dollars for fixing. 

Alternatives to Dental Retainers 

Alternatives to Dental Retainers

Are there any alternatives to dental retainers? Unfortunately enough, there are no alternatives for dental retainers, and the only option you have is to choose another type of retainer instead of the one you’re already using. You have three choices of retainers as alternatives: Plastic or Essix retainers, permanent, bonded retainers, and removable Hawley retainers. So if you already have a Hawley retainer, you can replace it with a removable plastic one. 

If you want to maintain the progress of your teeth after orthodontic treatment, the only best option is to not go without a retainer once the braces are off. 

Those who lose their removable retainers, or have the permanent ones falling off, will eventually need to get them replaced if they don’t want to lose the progress of their orthodontic treatment. This is especially required if the teeth shifts are becoming apparent. In almost all cases, the changes will happen over time even if it goes unnoticed initially, so it’s always best to get the retainers replaced at a better cost than going through the long process of braces again.

Retainers; What to Expect?

Retainers are unique orthodontic devices usually given to you after completing orthodontic treatment like braces. The purpose of these retainers is to hold the teeth in their position and maintain the alignment of the teeth, preventing any shifts from the newer positions. As the name suggests, their job is to retain the teeth in place. You can’t expect retainers to move the teeth or adjust the bites. They simply do what they are supposed to do; retain. 

As you take care of any orthodontic device, you’ll need to care for your retainers to ensure they don’t break or get lost. If you’re responsible enough, you’ll be able to take care of them easily. 

You must wear the retainer as your orthodontist suggests if you want these devices to do their job. As long as you do your job or wear and take care of your retainers, they will do their job, retaining your teeth in their position. If you don’t take care of them properly, it may be possible that they don’t fit you any longer or get lost or broken. 


If you have had braces, your orthodontist will recommend you to wear retainers for some time to maintain and hold your teeth in their newly assigned position. There are three types of retainers, and your dentist may tell your which one will be the best for you. Bonded/fixed retainers are often suggested for children and used for the lower teeth. 

How much do retainers cost the UK? The costs of dental retainers greatly vary based on the type of retainers you use, the dental services you opt for, the insurance plan, and other such factors. While the cost of dental retainers is covered under the braces, plan if you’re getting them after the removal of braces, you may need to pay separately if you individually have them or if you need a replacement. If you have an insurance policy, some of the costs may be covered, reducing the amount you’d need to pay. 

The best way to save costs of your retainer is to take care of them to ensure they don’t get lost or damaged to need a replacement. The expenses of retainers are covered above, along with most of what you need to know about these orthodontic devices.


Do I need dental retainers after braces?

Yes, of course. You will need dental retainers after getting braces to ensure the efforts of the braces don’t go to waste. If you don’t get a dental retainer, your teeth may move out of place, putting all the treatment efforts in vain. The last thing you’d want to do is not to get retainers. So, regardless of who and what makes you think otherwise, don’t ever choose not to get them. 

Will Dental Retainers Hurt?

Yes, retainers can sometimes hurt, but they won’t hurt for too long, only a day or two after being fitted. The pain resulting from dental retainers can easily be managed with regular painkillers, but you should visit the dentist if the pain gets too worse. Also, if you haven’t worn the retainer for a while, it may hurt when you wear it again because the teeth start shifting from their place. 

How Long Will I Need to Wear Retainers?

Your dentist will advise you to wear your retainers full-time in the first few months after your braces are removed, switching to only wearing them at night over time. In the case of a permanent retainer, you don’t have to worry because they are worn. 

What will happen if I don’t wear my retainer?

Not wearing the retainers will make the teeth shift back to their previous positions, also called a relapse. Even if you don’t wear your retainers for a few days, this can happen. This is also why you may find it hard or experience pain when you wear your retainers after a while. If your retainers fit without giving too much pain, you can wear them again, but you should revisit your dentist if it hurts too much.

Why are my retainers smelling bad? 

Since retainers are exposed to all the plague, bacteria, and food in the mouth, it will start to smell bad if you aren’t cleaning them well. For cleaning your retainers, soak them in a cleaning product designed for this purpose. If you clean your retainers properly, it will keep the smell away. Also, store the retainer in the case, keeping the lid open till it dries. 

Can the dentist fix my broken retainer?

Dentists may perform orthodontic treatment like fixing a retainer, but they won’t have an orthodontist’s experience. While a dentist can restore your retainer, it’s always best to consult an orthodontist if you need to get your broken retainer fixed or repaired since they will have more experience dealing with the issue.


Author Since:  September 18, 2018


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