How Much Do Orthodontic Retainers Cost?

Types of Retainers and Their Costs

Retainers function is to keep your teeth from shifting after orthodontic braces treatment completion and keep them in their new position. When it comes to retainers, there are two main categories: removable and permanent. Each type offers distinct advantages and disadvantages, and the cost can vary depending on the specific option you choose. It’s recommended to contact your orthodontist right away to see which ones is the best option for you. Here’s a closer look of different types of retainers and learn how much retainers cost after using braces to straighten teeth:

1)  Removable Retainers:

Removable retainers, while generally less expensive than permanent retainers, still have some cost considerations. Material quality, the number of retainers prescribed, and potential replacements all factor into the final price. However, these retainers offer clear advantages. They’re affordable, easy to clean, require no bonding procedure, and minimize speech impediments compared to Hawley retainers. Discuss cost details with your orthodontist to find the most cost-effective option for your long-term smile. Types of Removable Retainers:

Hawley Retainers:

  • Description: A classic retainer design featuring a clear acrylic base that fits snugly against the roof of your mouth. A thin metal wire runs across the front of your teeth, providing gentle yet effective pressure to keep them aligned and keep teeth shifting.
  • Cost: Hawley retainers are generally one of the most affordable options, typically Hawley retainers may cost from $150 to $600.
  • Pros: Relatively inexpensive, comfortable to wear, and easy to adjust if needed.
  • Cons: The metal wire can be slightly noticeable and may affect speech slightly while speaking. They require removal for eating and drinking, and proper care is crucial to prevent damage or discoloration of the acrylic.

Essix Retainers AKA Vivera Clear Plastic Retainers:

  • Description: These near-invisible retainers are custom-made from a clear, durable plastic material. They closely resemble the final set of aligners used in Invisalign treatment.
  • Cost: Essix retainers cost will depend, but ranges from $250 to $700 per set. However, sometimes orthodontists offer them in multi-pack sets, bringing the cost per retainer down.
  • Pros: Virtually invisible, comfortable to wear, and require minimal cleaning compared to Hawley retainers.
  • Cons: May not be as durable as Hawley retainers and might need to be replaced more frequently. Generally more expensive than Hawley retainers.

2)  Permanent Retainers:

The cost of permanent retainers may vary depending on several factors. These include the dental clinic’s location, the expertise of the orthodontist, the materials used, and any additional services required post-treatment. It is essential to consider these aspects when budgeting for permanent retainers, as they play a significant role in determining the final cost.

Patients should also be aware that permanent retainers tend to be more expensive than other types of retainers due to their longevity and durability, and they are typically attached to back of your teeth. While the initial cost may be higher, the long-term benefits of permanent retainers in maintaining proper tooth alignment and preventing relapse make them a valuable investment in one’s oral health. It is recommended to consult with a qualified orthodontist to discuss the cost of permanent retainers and explore affordable options available.

Bonded Retainers AKA Lingual Retainers: 

  • Description: A thin, metal wire bonded directly to the back of your lower or upper front teeth (lingual retainers) using dental adhesive. This option offers a completely invisible solution for maintaining your bottom tooth alignment.
  • Cost: Permanent retainers are generally the most expensive option, with costs ranging from $150 to $500 per arch (upper or lower teeth). The final price can be influenced by several factors:
  • Location of the dental clinic: Costs may vary depending on the geographic location and overhead expenses of the practice.
  • Orthodontist’s expertise: Experienced orthodontists may charge slightly more for their services.
  • Materials used: The type of mold, adhesive, and wire used can affect the cost.
  • Additional post-treatment services: Any additional procedures needed after the initial placement might influence the final price.
  • Pros: Completely invisible, highly durable (lasting for many years with proper care), and require minimal maintenance compared to removable retainers.
  • Cons: More expensive upfront cost than removable retainers. Requires a dental procedure for placement and removal, and may cause slight discomfort during the initial bonding process.

Cost of Traditional Wire Retainers

Traditional wire retainers are a common choice for many patients seeking to maintain the alignment of their teeth after orthodontics treatment. The cost of traditional wire retainers for upper and lower teeth can vary depending on factors such as the complexity of the case and the material used. On average, patients can expect to pay between $250 to $500 for a traditional wire retainer. This cost includes the initial consultation, impression taking, and the fabrication of the retainer by a dental laboratory.

The initial investment in a traditional wire retainer is important for long-term dental health and the preservation of the orthodontic work that has been done. It is essential to follow the instructions provided by your orthodontist on how to care for and maintain your retainer to ensure its effectiveness. Remember, the cost of a traditional wire retainer pales in comparison to the potential cost of needing further orthodontic treatment if teeth begin to shift out of alignment.

Retainer Costs: What to Expect After Your Orthodontic Treatment

When it comes to clear retainers, the average cost can vary depending on several factors. The material used, the complexity of the case, and the location of the dental office are all factors that can influence the price of clear retainers. On average, clear retainers can range from $400 to $800 per set. Some dental offices may offer package deals for multiple sets of retainers, which can help bring down the overall cost for patients.

Clear retainers are a popular choice among patients due to their transparency and comfort. These retainers are made from a durable plastic material that is custom-fitted to each patient’s teeth. They are less noticeable than traditional wire retainers and are typically easier to wear. While the initial cost of clear retainers may be higher than traditional wire retainers, many patients find the aesthetic appeal and convenience of clear retainers to be well worth the investment in their dental health.

Average Retainer Costs After Braces:

National Average: Clear retainers typically range from $400 to $800 per set. Some orthodontists might offer package deals for multiple sets (e.g., 2-3 sets), bringing down the cost per retainer. This can be a good option if you know you’ll need multiple retainers throughout your retention period.

Factors Affecting the Cost of New Retainers

One of the primary factors that influence the cost of retainers is the type of material used. Clear retainers, made from high-quality plastic, tend to be more expensive than traditional wire retainers due to the manufacturing process and materials involved. Additionally, permanent retainers, which are bonded to the back of teeth, come at a higher price point due to their long-lasting nature.

Another key factor in determining retainer costs is the complexity of the orthodontics treatment required. Patients who undergo extensive orthodontic procedures may need customized retainers or additional adjustments, leading to higher overall expenses. Similarly, the length of time a patient needs to wear a retainer can impact costs, as longer retention periods may require more frequent check-ups and adjustments, adding to the final bill.

Additional Costs to Consider

While the initial cost of your retainers is important, there are a few other potential expenses to factor into your budget:

Replacement Retainers Cost if You Lose or Damage The Essix Retainers:

Life happens! Lost or damaged retainers will need to be replaced to maintain proper tooth alignment. Replacement costs typically fall within the same range as the initial retainer set (around $150-$800 depending on the type). Some dental insurance plans might offer partial coverage for replacements, so be sure to check with your provider.

Cost of Retainers Repair

Retainer breaks, and in some cases, minor cracks or damage to your retainer might be repairable. The cost of repairs can vary depending on the severity of the damage and the orthodontist’s fees. It’s important to weigh the repair cost against replacement costs to determine the most cost-effective option.

Cleaning Solutions and Storage Cases (optional):

While not essential, some patients find retainer cleaning solutions and storage cases helpful for maintaining proper hygiene and protecting their retainers. These are typically relatively inexpensive, with cleaning solutions ranging from $10-$20 and storage cases costing around $5-$10.

Minimizing Additional Costs of Clear Plastic Retainers:

1)    Proper Care: The best way to minimize these additional costs is to take good care of your retainers. Following proper cleaning routines, handling them with care, and storing them in a safe place can significantly extend their lifespan and reduce the need for replacements or repairs.

2)    Multiple Retainer Sets: Some orthodontists might offer discounts for purchasing multiple retainer sets upfront. This can be a cost-effective option if you know you’ll need replacements throughout your retention period.

How Much Do Retainers Cost & Are They Covered by Your Dental Insurance Plan?

Type of Retainer


Cost Range

Removable Retainer (Essix)

Clear plastic retainer custom-molded to fit your teeth.

$400 – $800 per set

Hawley Retainer

Removable retainer with a clear plastic body and a metal wire across the front.

$150 – $600 per retainer

Bonded Retainer (Fixed Retainer)

Permanent retainer bonded to the back of your upper or lower teeth with dental adhesive.

$150 – $500 per arch (upper or lower teeth)

Dental insurance plans vary widely in their coverage details, so it’s crucial to understand your specific plan when it comes to retainer costs. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Coverage for Retainers: Some dental insurance plans may offer partial coverage for retainers, particularly for the initial set following orthodontics treatment. However, coverage for replacements due to loss or damage is less common.
  • Understanding Your Coverage: The best way to determine your coverage details is to contact your dental insurance provider directly. They can explain your specific plan and any benefits related to retainers. Be sure to ask about coverage percentages, annual maximums, and any exclusions that might apply.
  • Maximizing Coverage: If your plan offers some coverage for retainers, explore ways to maximize it. For example, some plans might have an annual maximum for orthodontic benefits that could cover a portion of your retainer costs. Additionally, if your plan covers multiple sets of retainers upfront, it could be a cost-effective option compared to paying out of pocket for replacements later.

By proactively understanding your dental insurance coverage, you can make informed decisions about financing your retainers and potentially reduce your out-of-pocket costs. Remember, even if your plan doesn’t offer significant coverage for retainers, it likely covers other preventive dental services that can contribute to your overall oral health, minimizing future dental expenses.

Financing Options for Orthodontic Retainers  

While the upfront cost of retainers might seem daunting, several financing options can help make them more manageable:

  • Payment Plans: Many orthodontists offer in-house payment plans for retainers, allowing you to spread the cost over several months. This can be a convenient option that avoids large upfront payments. Discuss payment plan details with your orthodontist during your consultation, including interest rates and financing terms.
  • CareCredit: CareCredit is a popular healthcare credit card specifically designed for medical and dental expenses. You can apply for CareCredit financing and use it to pay for your retainers, potentially with promotional periods offering 0% interest for a set timeframe. However, be sure to understand the interest rates that apply after the promotional period ends to avoid accruing substantial debt.
  • Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) or Health Savings Accounts (HSAs): If you have an FSA or HSA through your employer, you might be able to use these pre-tax accounts to pay for your retainers. This can be a significant advantage as it allows you to save on taxes. Review your FSA or HSA plan details to confirm eligibility for using these funds for retainers.

Choosing the Right Payment Plan Option:

The best payment plan option for you will depend on your individual budget and financial situation. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Total Cost of Retainers: Knowing the total cost of your retainers (including potential replacement needs) will help you determine the appropriate financing amount.
  • Length of Financing: Consider how long you’d like to spread out the payments. Shorter financing terms often have lower overall interest costs.
  • Interest Rates: Compare interest rates offered by different financing options, including in-house plans, CareCredit, and potential FSA/HSA savings.

By exploring these financing options and carefully considering the factors involved, you can find a way to manage the cost of your retainers and ensure a healthy, beautiful smile for years to come.

Conclusion: Keeping Your Smile in Place with Retainers

Retainers are an essential part of orthodontic treatment after wearing braces. They help prevent your teeth from shifting back to their old positions and ensure your beautiful, straight smile lasts a lifetime. Now that you’ve learned about the different retainer types ( Hawley retainers, bonded/fixed retainers), along with the factors affecting retainer cost (material, complexity, location), you can make informed decisions.

Remember, dental insurance may cover some of the retainer cost, but it varies depending on your plan. Check with your insurance company to understand your specific coverage.

Final Thoughts: A Smile Worth the Investment

While retainer costs may seem like an additional expense after braces, they are a small investment compared to the long-term benefits of a healthy, confident smile. By following proper wear your retainer instructions, practicing good care for your retainer habits, and consulting your orthodontist for any questions or concerns, you can ensure your retainers effectively keep your teeth in place for years to come.

If you have any concerns about forgetting to wear your retainer or experience any damage like a scratch or crack, talk to your orthodontist right away. They can advise you on the best course of action, whether it’s adjusting your wearing schedule, obtaining a replacement retainer, or discussing alternative retainer options.

Remember, fixed retainers are designed to help you maintain your new smile for a lifetime. By taking good care of them and following your orthodontist’s instructions, you can enjoy the lasting benefits of straight teeth and a healthy bite.