Straightening your teeth is a journey that starts with wearing clear aligners, but it doesn’t end there. For any Invisalign patient who wants their new smile to last, wearing and caring for your retainer after treatment is one of the most important steps to make sure your teeth stay in place. In fact, failing to wear a retainer is one of the primary causes of teeth shifting after treatment.
A retainer is a custom orthodontic device that is designed to keep your teeth in place and prevent any unwanted shifting. Though they may come in different shapes and sizes, all retainers are designed to keep your smile intact. However, there are slight differences in each type that can affect your retainer wearing experience. In this article, we’ll go over all of the similarities and differences and then answer the important question, how much do retainers cost?
The 3 Different Types of Retainers
There are 3 different types of retainers and many wonder — how much do retainers cost and what are the differences for each type?
An example of some custom fitted hawley retainers.
When you wear a retainer, it is likely that you will have to wear one of the following 3 types or retainers. The most common type for aligner patients is an Invisalign retainer made of the same plastic as your trays and is molded to perfectly fit over your teeth and hold them in place. A less common, but still useful, type of retainer is the removable Hawley retainer. A Hawley retainer is made out of an acrylic or plastic base with metal wires extending from the base that go over your teeth to prevent shifting.
The last type of retainer is called a permanent or lingual retainer. Permanent retainers use metal wires and brackets adhered to your teeth and are designed to keep your teeth in place for the foreseeable future. Unlike the wires used for braces, permanent retainers do not shift your teeth and are usually installed on the back of your teeth so they aren’t noticeable to others. Sometimes patients may require a combination of the different types of retainer to prevent shifting.
Now that we’ve covered the three different types of retainers, let’s find out: how much do retainers cost exactly?
So, How Much Do Retainers Cost?
Let's find out which retainer type is the best for your needs and budget
Clear retainers are the most common type of retainer, but only your orthodontist knows which is best for you.
When you begin orthodontic treatment, your orthodontist should be completely transparent with the total cost, including the fact that you have to wear a retainer after Invisalign treatment. Think of this as a maintenance cost for your new smile, and one that you’ll have to pay every 6 months if you choose clear retainers like the Vivera from Invisalign. Retainers can also get damaged or lost, which can increase the cost of your overall treatment.
So let's find out how much each type of retainer costs so you can factor that in as you budget for your smile journey.
- Clear Plastic Retainers - depending on the type of clear retainer, they can run anywhere from $100 to $300 for a set. When you discuss clear retainer options with your provder, make sure to let them know what works best for your budget.
- Hawley Retainers - Hawley retainers tend to be priced a bit higher than clear plastic retainers. A new Hawley retainer will run you about $250 to $500 since they take more work to produce.
- Permanent Retainers - Permanent retainers depend on a variety of factors including the size and placement of the permanent retainer. Since permanent retainers can run anywhere from $150 to $500, you should consult your orthodontist to get the most accurate quote.
What Should You Do If You Lose or Break Your Retainer
Taking care of your teeth means replacing a lost retainer as soon as possible to prevent shifting
Getting a replacement retainer is easy and necessary to keep your smile in place.
Should you lose or break any type of retainer, the first thing you should do is stay calm. A damaged or lost retainer is an inconvenience, but you can easily get it replaced with a short visit to your orthodontist. The next thing you should do is call your orthodontist to get fit for a new retainer as soon as possible. This is important, because many patients ask can retainers move teeth back to their original positions, and the answer is no. By putting off getting a new retainer, you could be undoing the progress you have made with braces or Invisalign, so if it works with your budget you may want to purchase a backup retainer, or at least a sturdy retainer case to keep it safe from damage.
If you have a damaged permanent retainer, it is even more urgent that you visit the orthodontist as soon as possible. A damaged permanent retainer can cause teeth to shift and can irritate gum tissue if the retainer has broken away from your teeth. While you can temporarily ease the pain with dental wax for Invisalign, you’ll want to get to this appointment scheduled as soon as possible.
Because your retainers are an investment in your smile, another good practice is learning how to clean Invisalign retainers to help them last as long as possible. You can purchase a retainer cleaner like Smilesaver Spray, a peroxide free formula that works in 60 seconds and is ideal for use on the go. Soaking them during the day is also a good thing to do from time to time to keep your retainers fresh and clean.