How Much Do Retainers Cost With & Without Insurance?
Content featured by Byte is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed doctor, orthodontist, or dentist. They ensure the information is factual and current.
We have strict sourcing guidelines and each page contains a full list of sources for transparency.
Table of Contents
- Cost Without Insurance
- Retainer Partial Coverage
- Why Pay for Retainers
- At-Home Aligner Treatment
- Frequently Asked Questions
The Cost of Retainers Without Dental Insurance
When you first look at the cost of a retainer, you may see the upfront cost, which does not include any coverage provided by your dental insurance. The cost can vary depending on what type of retainer is recommended. The lowest cost is around $300, while the highest cost is as much as $5,000.
Here is the cost breakdown for different types of retainers:
Removable Hawley Retainer
This is the stereotypical retainer, made from formed plastic and metal wires. The average cost for one Hawley retainer is between $150 and $300, with a set costing up to $600.
When you or your child has braces, a Hawley retainer is often covered in the overall upfront treatment cost. If you lose or break the retainer, a replacement may need to be paid for entirely out of pocket, costing between $70 and $500.
Removable Essix Retainer
This type of retainer is made exclusively of formed acrylic. It is actually less expensive than the Hawley retainer, ranging from $100 to $250 for one or $200 to $500 for a set.
Essix retainers are more likely to warp or break than Hawley retainers, so you may find yourself spending $100 to $200 to replace them once or twice during treatment.
Vivera Clear Plastic Retainer
Occasionally, your dentist may recommend a “permanent” retainer, or a bonded retainer, which is applied to the back of your teeth to reduce how much they shift over time. These range in price from $250 to $500 for one arch and $500 to $1,000 for both arches.
You are most likely to have one bonded retainer, applied to the bottom teeth, with a removable retainer prescribed for the top.
Retainers Might Be Partially Covered by Your Dental Insurance
Dental insurance may treat your adulthood orthodontics treatment as a cosmetic (rather than a medical) procedure, so you may struggle to get the right amount of financial coverage for your needs. Some dental insurance plans cover up to half the cost of your overall orthodontics treatment, which should include the cost of retainers. Combining insurance coverage with a payment plan can help you manage the cost over a few months or years, depending on the extent of orthodontics treatment you need.
Some dental insurance plans allow you to add a health savings plan or a discount plan, which can help lower the cost of orthodontics treatment with in-network, well-respected orthodontists.
Additionally, some dental insurance companies offer specific coverage for braces and retainers, called orthodontic insurance. These plans can support the cost of braces, aligners, retainers, and other orthodontic devices that might be needed.
Why Should I Pay for a Retainer?
If you had braces as a child, you may be familiar with retainers. These are typically metal and plastic devices that fit around your teeth to keep them from shifting after braces have been removed or treatment with other orthodontic treatment like clear aligners has been completed.
Children and teenagers who need retainers may wear them for a few months and then no longer need them. However, it is common for teeth to shift over your life. You may find that, as an adult, you return to orthodontic treatment with clear aligners or braces and then need a retainer.
You may consider opting out of getting a retainer if you pursue orthodontics treatment simply because of the added cost. Rather than paying for an expensive device, you may decide to quit once your teeth have been aligned.
Retainers are important for keeping your teeth aligned, so you do not need to pursue another round of orthodontics treatment later in life. Even if a retainer appears costly upfront, it can save you money in the long run.
At-Home Aligner Treatment May Give You a Free Retainer
Although your dental insurance may cover some cost of your orthodontics treatment, including retainers, you may find that standard treatment is too expensive. Fortunately, there are several companies that now offer at-home, over-the-counter orthodontics treatment with customized clear plastic aligners.
These may not be covered by your insurance, but an aligner treatment plan often costs less than most braces or traditional aligners. Many companies offer a free retainer once your treatment is complete.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best retainer?
How much do retainers cost to replace?
The replacement cost of your retainer depends on the type of retainer you chose to begin with, but the average costs of replacing different types of retainers:
- Hawley retainers: $150 to $300
- Clear plastic retainers: $100 to $250
- Permanent retainers: $250 to $500
Retainers for Teeth: What Are They and Why Wear Them? Colgate. Date fetched: May 24, 2021.
How Much Do Retainers Cost? Health.CostHelper. Date fetched: May 24, 2021.
Best Dental Insurance for Braces. (May 2021). Investopedia. Date fetched: May 24, 2021.
Which Type of Retainer is Best?. (March 2019). OrthoCare Orthodontics.
Types of Retainers: Which One is Best for You. (August 2019). Sporting Smiles.
Retainer Replacement: How Much Is It and When Do You Need It? (November 2021). Dentally.org.