Some of the most common and used accessories in dentistry, retainers can be defined as medical instruments created specifically by dentists through dental laboratories in order to correct, diagnose or facilitate dental services. Retainers have a simple design, are made of unpretentious materials, and can be easily used by the patient, without any difficulties.
In orthodontics, retainers are used to immobilize the teeth, usually, after their position has been changed with the help of braces. This is a necessary therapy because the oral tissues have a “memory” that tends to return them to their original position.
After finishing the orthodontic treatment there is a tendency of recurrence (teeth and jaws tend to return to the initial position), the reason for which a retainer must be worn. A period for fixing the teeth in the new position is usually necessary. The period varies from person to person, depending on the severity of the initial dento-maxillary problem, the patient’s age, and some other factors.
How Much Do Retainers Cost?
The price you would pay for a removable Hawley retainer that is made of hard acrylic to fit the patient’s mouth, plus a visible wire in order to hold the teeth in the right position would be anywhere between $160 and $320, while a set of retainers (upper and lower) will set you back $320 to $610 or even more.
The cost of the retainers is often included in the total cost of the braces, so you will not have to pay anything for your first set of retainers. Moreover, at some dental clinics, the standard braces package includes one or two retainer replacements. In case this is not included, you may pay $75 to $260 to replace one retainer and $150 to $510 or even more for a set. Be aware that the retainer replacement costs are not covered by the majority of the dental insurance policies.
If you want removable invisible retainers made of vacuum-formed clear plastic, you can choose the Essix ones. Be prepared to pay anywhere between $110 and $260 for one retainer and $220 to $510 for a set. However, these retainers tend to break and wrap, so it is necessary to replace them more often than usual.
Invisalign charges an annual fee of $320 to $770 for a new set of Vivera clear plastic identical retainers, that are delivered every three months. These retainers are recommended for both patients who had their teeth straightened by conventional braces and patients who used Invisalign’s series of clear plastic aligner trays in order to straighten their teeth.
In case you need bonded retainers, which are glued to the tooth’s back, be prepared to pay $260 to $510 for one arch and $520 to $1,100 for a set (lower and upper). Usually, bonded retainers are fixed on the bottom teeth and a removable retainer is used for the upper teeth.
People who need to correct a minor overbite with the help of a removable retainer should be prepared to visit the doctor’s office several times for fittings and X-rays. This procedure would cost $520 to $2,600 and in some situations, the costs could be even more than $5,000, depending on the duration of the treatment and the gravity of the problem.
Details about retainers
Depending on the situation and the results obtained after the period in which the braces were worn, the dentist makes a decision on the appropriate restraint device. The two types of retainers are bonded and removable.
The bonded retainer is made of a metal alloy and is applied to the back of the teeth. It looks like an arch, which means that the teeth will be kept in the position obtained after the initial treatment. A very important thing to keep in mind is oral hygiene. Due to the fact that the retainer is fixed, you must be careful and clean both the retainer and the teeth correctly.
The removable retainer is made of a plastic plate, with metal springs that support the teeth. Being a mobile device, it can be worn mostly at night and must be removed while eating.
Of course, compared to the fixed retainer, it can be much easier to clean. However, the removable retainer may be less effective because patients may lose motivation to wear it.
For the most satisfactory results, it is recommended to wear the retainers for at least half of the period in which the braces were worn. In most cases, it is recommended to wear the retainers even more than the braces were worn.
If the dentist considers that a removable retainer is a solution, it should be used at least 8 hours a day in the first year, because the first year after removing the braces is the most important for keeping teeth straight. If the retainers are not worn sufficiently or correctly, the teeth will return in part or in full to their original position.
What are the extra costs?
Usually, once you receive the retainers you will also receive a plastic case to store and protect them when not using them, but if you need an extra case be prepared to spend $3 to $15.
There are situations when the wire of a bonded retainer could come loose or break and the repairs have to be done as soon as possible. It may cost $80 to $260, or even more to have it repaired.
Important things to consider
Retainers are often included in the orthodontic braces package. A good way to find local members is by searching on the official website page of the American Association of Orthodontists.
It was found that it is necessary to wear the retainers from the first hours after removing the braces. Teeth tend to return to their original position fairly quickly, this being avoided by applying the retainers.
Regardless of its type, the restraint must be cleaned responsibly and correctly. The retainer is like a wire applied to the back of the teeth, which means that brushing and flossing will not completely clean the teeth. Therefore, in addition to rigorous brushing, there should be regular visits to the dentist to check for any caries that may form for this reason.
The removable retainer, being mobile, can be easier to clean. The retainer is washed with a toothbrush and liquid soap, not toothpaste. Periodic disinfection of the retainer is also recommended, by placing it in a glass of water in which an effervescent tablet with antibacterial effect is dissolved.
How can I save money?
You may be able to save $60 to $170 if you order two sets of retainers at once. This way you have a backup set because there is a high risk to lose or break the retainers.