Dental retainer diagram

Human nature dictates that we would do anything for our loved ones and what better way to do it than to put a smile on their faces as a manifestation of happiness. But what can you do if that smile is difficult to achieve if they have dental issues? Can that priceless smile have a price tag after all?

Most people turn to braces to address misalignment of teeth which could be very expensive. But sometimes, these misalignments can be very minimal that they can be addressed by simple retainers.

Retainers can even be considered as an aftercare after the braces have been removed to help the teeth settle and get used to their new position, while other types are used to treat bite issues to prevent or treat sleep problems.

These retainers are usually made of rubber or clear plastic sometimes can have wires depending on the type. They are custom-made and are either removable or permanent that only the dentist can remove when it has already served its purpose.

Considering all of their benefits, how much do retainers cost?

Average Cost of Retainer

It significantly varies depending on the type but can range from $100 up to more than $2,000 depending on all other factors like the dental clinic, its purpose, among others.

  • Permanent Retainers – permanent retainer is around $1,000 for both the upper and lower teeth but can range anywhere between $600 and $2,100. They are also known as the fixed or lingual wire retainers. They are usually the most expensive and there is no risk of loss and damage because they are bonded permanently to the backside of the teeth, unlike other retailers.
  • Clear Retainers – clear retainers are between $200 and $500 for both the upper and the lower teeth but can range between $100 and $1,200. These are also known as invisible retainers or Essix retainers. These types are usually cheaper and are deemed the most comfortable to wear but also the most prone to breakage hence the need to replace often.
  • Wire Retainers – wire retainers are around $300 to $600 for both the upper and lower teeth but can range between $100 to $1,500 depending on some factors like location, etc. These are also known as Hawley retainers and are more durable and less prone to breakage compared to clear retainers. These can come in different patterns and color depending on your preference.

What are Included

There are basically two ways to fit your dental retainers, namely directly or indirectly. The direct fitting is done as you are sitting in the dental chair while the orthodontist customizes the wires to fit your teeth, making some adjustments in the process.

Meanwhile, the indirect method is done by getting an impression or mold of your teeth and gums after which, either the orthodontist or a dental technician makes the retainer. This process requires you to go back to the clinic for the fitting of the finished product.

Additional Expenses

When you opted for the less durable type of retainers, you could almost expect to spend on replacement sooner or later. But these replacements are usually not as expensive as the first one. These typically cost around $100 to $500 for both the upper and lower teeth. This is because your dentist no longer needs to do an assessment and to get impressions of your teeth and would only use the ones made during your first retainer.

When you had the first retainer covered by insurance, the replacement, however, would not be covered anymore.

Shopping for Retainers

All orthodontic clinics offer this service so you can inquire if there are any near your area. An inquiry with a dental clinic may also help you get a referral to one. You can also ask your friends or relatives for referrals if any of them have already had retainers before and if they are satisfied with the service.

You may also search for orthodontists online through the American Association of Orthodontists through their website.

Factors That Matters

To better understand these factors, we have enumerated and explained some below:

  • Location – where you reside or where you prefer to avail the service affects the cost you have to pay for the retainers simply because of the different living standards in different states across the United States.

For example, California are the range is from $474 and $1,048 with $665 considered as the medium cost. In New York, it is between $587 and $1,298 and the average is at $824. On the other hand, in Wyoming, their retainer ranges from $377 to $833 and the middle ground is set at $529.

For the complete cost assessment and all other dental services per state, visit

  • The type of retainer – your choice of the type of retainer or the recommendation of your dentist on the type that you need would mainly affect the price of the retainer that you have to pay. You can choose among the permanent, the clear, and the wire retainers.
  • Design or pattern – if you prefer the wire retainers, what a way to enjoy wearing them than to have fancy patterns and color. You can even have wire retainers that almost look like braces. The more intricate the design, the more you have to spend on the price.
  • Insurance – most orthodontic insurance cover either part or full expenses. But they sometimes limit the coverage on the type of retainers. So if you do not intend to spend a lot on this dental service, be sure to talk to your insurance provider to ensure that your choice of the type would be covered.

Also, most insurance covers the first retainer only. To save on paying out-of-pocket expenses, you may want to opt for the more durable type of retainer that your insurance covers. Otherwise, prepare to pay for the replacement.

  • The clinic – your choice of the facility to supply your retainer can affect the expenses severely. The equipment used as well as the expertise and experience of the orthodontist performing the services would most likely factor in the pricing.
  • Purpose – little did we know that retainers can be used to address several dental problems and not just a cheap substitute to dental braces. One other issue where retainers can help is the bite issue that causes sleep problems. Therefore, the condition to which the retainers are intended could also define their prices.

Additional Information

If you have been recommended to wear a retainer other than the permanent type, some of the pointers you need to understand in order to make a sound choice between the Hawley and the Essex type except for the cost are presented below:

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