The common question many people have when they realize that they may need retainers either to prevent teeth from getting out of position or as a follow-on to having braces removed is how much are retainers? However, the earlier patients realize that the retainers help preserve the correct alignment of their teeth and are a significant part of their treatment (Naidu S & Suresh A, 2018), the earlier they can start preparing themselves for all that wearing retainers involves.
One question many people ask is “what is the best retainer?” The short answer is: different retainers have advantages and disadvantages, so you should make this decision with your orthodontist. For example, research has shown that some people prefer vacuum-formed retainers (VFRs) because it is less likely to be broken and more aesthetically pleasing than Hawley retainers. However, both of these are just as likely to be lost as each other (Lisa Hichens et al., 2007). If you are more concerned about losing your retainer than about the aesthetics, then you will want to get something else.
While the question may seem simple at first, the fact is retainer cost and the retainer’s price will differ significantly from one type to another and even from patient to patient, depending on your kind of insurance and your individual needs.
Dental retainers cost can fluctuate between $100 on the low end to several hundred on the high end. So the cost of retainers will be directly related to whether you are planning on getting removable ones, permanent ones, or whatever retainer ends up being best for your particular needs. If you’re still wondering how much are permanent retainers and what is the retainer price difference between a permanent one and a non-permanent one, this article is for you.
How much do retainers cost?
As mentioned before, the price of retainers will vary significantly. This variability can be due to where you buy them from, the type of retainers, and even what your insurance will cover. The fact of the matter is no one answer can give you a universal idea of what retainers will cost you exactly since that is the type of thing that can only be discussed properly with your orthodontic office. A study by Hichens et al., (2007) states that vacuum formed retainers (VFRs) are more cost-effective than the more common Hawley retainers. However, there are some general price ranges for the different types of retainers. Let’s learn more about what some of these different retainers are and what is the price range of them.
Permanent retainer cost
One that has the biggest benefits for individuals who simply do not want the hassle of having to clean retainers outside, put them in and take them out of their mouth during meals, or some of the social awkwardness that removable retainers can entail, is a permanent retainer. However this leads to the natural question -How much does a permanent retainer cost?
The cost for these can vary from between the low $200s to middle $500s. Again, your individual costs will vary but there are several benefits to this type, not the least of which is simply having it permanently installed in your mouth. It allows for a set it and forget it kind of attitude when it comes to your orthodontics.
Instead of having to worry about forgetting where you place them, remembering to clean them in the solution, or the weird taste that they can sometimes get if they are left out or improperly cleaned, you can simply treat these as a continued extension of your braces treatment. Even better, the most common type is the lingual variety which attach to the back of the teeth making them the most aesthetically pleasing.
However, even if you choose the wire retainer that attaches to the front to the teeth, it can still be quite useful and a bit cheaper. And the other benefit is they are very strong, making damaging them far more difficult than removable ones since ones that are removed can easily be broken, lost, or bent.
One drawback to these types of retainers is that it can be more difficult to keep your oral hygiene to a high standard since it can be difficult to brush around the wires and floss properly, and sometimes plaque and tartar can build up on the retainer. In cases like this, you may need to visit the dentist or an orthodontic office to have them give you a professional cleaning every so often to some of the areas that are more difficult for you to access.
Clear retainers have the most variability of all the types. That is simply because there are many different makers and the different makers in different brands offer different pros and cons. Because of this, the price can range from $100 for inexpensive ones to $1,200 for the more professional and medically attested styles.
Of course there are pros and cons to each. The pro of the low cost brands is simply that, they’re affordable. Paying $100 to a few hundred dollars is obviously more beneficial to individuals’ pocketbooks than paying up to $1,200 for a high-end style retainer. However high-end retainers often times can command that price simply because they are stronger, more durable, may need replaced less often, and might have better treatment outcomes.
While you might initially save money by getting the lower cost retainers, if you end up having to buy multiple sets because they bent, broke, cracked, or were slow at their treatment then you can end up spending more than you would have had you simply bought a high-end retainer in the first place.
Cost of retainers
This is something that is best talked over with your orthodontic office. A good way to think of these clear retainers is to imagine Invisalign. Invisalign, and others, make clear retainers that clip onto the teeth. Not only are they aesthetically pleasing because they are nearly invisible but also the removability gives people the freedom to be able to brush and floss at their leisure as well as take them in and out of their mouth anytime they feel the need to.
There are also removable plastic retainers with wires that are custom fit to your teeth once the braces come off. These are the most common, and also the most affordable. They often are factored into the overall price of the braces treatment, so you don’t have to pay for them separately, unless you misplace or break one.
As mentioned before, one of the issues with retainers is it is possible for people to have their treatment revert if they do not wear their retainers for the requisite amount of time required by their orthodontic office. This can lead to teeth shifting back into the wrong positions, undoing months or even years of orthodontic treatment.
The other problem with removing them is that they can also be lost or damaged while outside the mouth. This is why it’s important to discuss your individual habits and needs with your orthodontic office as they will be in the best position to tell you what type of retainers might not only be best for your pocketbook but also best for your oral health long term.
After a visit with the orthodontist, you will likely be aware that you may need a retainer after your treatment with braces or other appliances, depending on what you choose. Your orthodontist may inform you of this to get you thinking about what type of retainer you may prefer when the time comes to choose one. This choice can be made with your orthodontist if you are unsure of what will be best for you.
Once you become aware of the need for a retainer after your regular treatment, it is crucial to research what may be best for you. During this research, you will want to know the types of retainers, their pros and cons, and the associated expenses.
If, for example, you decide to choose the permanent bonded retainer, you will learn that they cannot be lost because they are permanently glued onto your teeth, and they can last for years if well maintained. Also, you may learn that having them will have a significant impact on what you can and cannot eat, as you cannot remove them to eat certain foods. You can speak to your orthodontist about other concerns.
Lisa Hichens, Jonathan Sandy, Paul Ewings, Steven Clark, Anthony Ireland, Heidi Rowland, Alison Williams, & Sandra Hollinghurst. (2007). Cost-effectiveness and patient satisfaction: Hawley and vacuum-formed retainers. European Journal of Orthodontics, 29, 372–378. https://doi.org/doi:10.1093/ejo/cjm039
Shyamala Naidu & Anand Suresh. (2018). ORTHODONTIC RETAINERS. Orthoodntics.https://www.researchgate.net/publication/338990573_ORTHODONTIC_RETAINERS/link/5e37c3a9299bf1cdb9084dbf/download