Healthcare Cost

How Much Do Retainers Cost Without Insurance?

Kendra Bean
Kendra Bean20 Apr 2023

Retainers tend to cost between $100 and $1,000 without insurance. There is a significant range in the cost of retainers due to the number of arches needed, the type of retainer, durability, and your retainer provider. If you do not have insurance, retainers can be costly, but there are multiple ways to reduce the cost and get retainers for an affordable price. 

The Cost of Retainers

Retainers can be costly without insurance, costing up to $500 for one arch and $1000 for a set (two arches). The price can vary significantly due to type, length of treatment, age, and location. Retainers are used following the removal of your braces to maintain teeth alignment or correct minor problems such as an overbite or grinding. Retainers work similarly to braces by gradually moving your teeth into proper alignment. 

Types of Retainers

The type and amount of arches will vary significantly based on your need. Retainers are custom-fit and designed to keep teeth straight. Removable retainers tend to cost less than fixed retainers, as these require an orthodontist to install them. Four main types of retainers vary in cost quite significantly. 

Cost of Retainers by Type

Type of Retainer

Average Cost For One Arch

Average Cost For Two Arches

Removable Hawley



Removable Essix



Removable Vivera Clear Plastic



Permanent (Bonded)



Source: CostHelper

Removable Hawley: A removable Hawley retainer is the most common type, made from either acrylic or plastic and bendable metal wires. The acrylic is molded to fit inside your mouth perfectly, and these arches come in various styles and colors. These are known to last a long time with proper care and are easy to clean. One major drawback is that they are very noticeable. 

Removable Essix: Essix retainers are vacuum-formed clear plastic and look similar to Invisalign braces. These retainers are virtually invisible and also removable. However, they do not allow the teeth to touch naturally and are prone to warping and breaking, so frequent replacement may be necessary. 

Vivera Clear Plastic: Vivera Clear Plastic retainers are made by Invisalign. These are clear retainers for teeth after undergoing teeth straightening treatment. Invisalign has an annual fee of $300-$750, including a new set of identical retainers every three months. You do not need to have used Invisalignʻs products before, as many people use this retainer type after conventional braces. 

Permanent Bonded: A permanent retainer is bonded by glue to the back of your teeth and therefore stays in your mouth at all times. It is very discrete as it is placed on the back of your teeth. However, this may be uncomfortable, and you may cut your tongue on the retainer. People usually have one permanent retainer for their bottom teeth and use a removable retainer on top if necessary. Usually, if an orthodontist starts you off with a bonded retainer, they will keep it in for about six months to a year and then switch you to a removable retainer.

Your Retainer Provider

The costs associated with your retainer provider will vary from office to office. Before getting started, you will want to be sure that you fully understand your retainer options and what your retainer will cost. Some providers may have additional expenses related to their work or any other services you might need before getting a retainer.

Additional Costs Associated with Braces 

ServicesCost without insurance
Office Visits/Fitting of Retainers$100 - $200
X-Rays$25 - $750
Additional Retainer Cases$1-$10
Repairs As Necessary$75-$250


The durability of your retainer will play a role in the overall costs. If you require your retainers to be replaced quite often due to damage or breaking, you will likely incur significant expenses. This comes down to taking good care of your retainer and understanding the material that it is made out of. For example, for retainers made with acrylic, you will want to avoid leaving them in the sun or an area with a lot of heat, as this will damage or distort them. 

Health Image

Get Mira - Health Benefits You Can Afford.

Get doctor visits, lab tests, prescription, and more. Affordable copays. Available in 45+ states. Only $45/month on average.

Payment Options for Retainers

Health insurance, if you have orthodontic treatment, will usually cover the cost of your retainer partially or fully. There are several ways to reduce the overall cost of retainers.

Plan Ahead And Maintain Care

Planning is one of the most effective ways to afford retainers without insurance. If you are currently using braces or are about to start, you will almost always need to wear a retainer following their removal. Braces can be worn for years; therefore, it is a good idea to start saving for the expenses associated with retainers.

Additionally, taking care of your retainer(s) can help you avoid frequent replacement of the arches. This can save you a lot of money and also time. 

Payment Plans

Some dental offices offer payment plans. These allow you to pay off the total cost of treatment over time rather than all at once. Be sure to ask your dentist’s office if this is an option.

Dental Discounts

Retainers run a high risk of being lost or misplaced. Because of this, many people order more than one set at a time, saving you some money long-term. There is typically a discount of about $50-$150 off the total for ordering two sets of retainers simultaneously.


A health reimbursement account (HRA), health savings account (HSA), or flexible spending account (FSA) may help reduce the cost of your retainer(s). The cost of an orthodontic retainer is usually eligible for reimbursement with one or more of these accounts. 

HSAs and FSAs allow you to set aside pre-tax dollars to pay for IRS-qualified medical expenses. Depending on the office's rules, your FSA or HSA might even reimburse you for co-pays or office visits. You may use your HRA to pay for your dental expenses (such as retainers) so long as they are deemed eligible by your employer.

Orthodontists in Training

Another option for reducing the cost of retainers is to check to see if a university near you has a dental or orthodontic school. Orthodontic students sometimes offer services at a reduced price so long as experienced orthodontists supervise them. Students must complete supervised treatments as part of their orthodontic education, so they usually have reduced fees or only require you to cover the cost of materials and equipment. The Commission on Dental Accreditation lists dental schools nationwide, and some offer this option. 

Health Image

Virtual care for only $25 per visit

Virtual primary care, urgent care, and behavioral health visits are only $25 with a Mira membership.

Cost of Retainers Without Insurance Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Consider this additional information regarding the cost of retainers without insurance. 

Do I Need To Wear My Retainer(s) For The Rest Of My Life?

Generally speaking, removable retainers are worn 22-24 hours a day for the first three to nine months. Eventually, you may transition to using them at night or for a few hours daily, depending on your orthodontist's instructions. Many patients wear their removable retainers a few nights a week for the rest of their lives. 

Do I Need To Replace My Retainer?

This will depend on the type of retainer you have and how well you take care of it. It is generally recommended to replace your removable retainer(s) every six months to a year, but sooner if you notice cracks, bends, chips, or if it does not fit right. Bonded retainers can last three years or more. Practicing a proper oral hygiene routine and following all your orthodontist’s instructions regarding maintaining your retainer can ensure it stays a good shape.

What Happens If I Stop Wearing My Retainer?

If you stop wearing your retainer, your teeth may return to their old positions. If this happens, it may be necessary to wear braces again, which will cost much more money and time. It is essential to follow your orthodontistʻs recommendations for retainer use. 

Do I See A Dentist Or An Orthodontist For A Retainer?

A general dentist or an orthodontist can fit your retainer. However, orthodontists most commonly complete this service as they have special training in the alignment of teeth and will generally already have a pre-established relationship with you if you have braces. 

Bottom Line 

On average, without insurance, retainers cost between $100 and $1,000. The cost range is attributable to the number of arches needed, the type of retainer, durability, and your retainer provider. There may also be additional costs associated with fitting or repairing your braces. If you do not have insurance, retainers can be costly, but there are multiple ways to reduce the cost and get retainers for an affordable price.

Kendra Bean

Kendra Bean is from Maui, Hawaiʻi. She is currently enrolled at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, specializing in Epidemiology. She is passionate about improving health literacy and access to care, specifically in rural areas.