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Patient holding clear dental retainer

How Much Do Retainers & Aligners Cost?

From seeking improved self-esteem and oral hygienei to correcting an intrusive over- or underbite that’s causing chewing issues,ii there are a number of reasons to start straightening your teeth. Luckily, there are plenty of options to choose from! However, the costs associated with orthodontic treatment can sometimes be steep, so it’s important to do your research so you can start on your smile-straightening journey armed with all the information you need. Below, we discuss what to expect when it comes to paying for retainers and aligners and answer your questions about how much retainers and dental aligners cost.


Dental Retainers: What You Need to Know

Retainers by themselves are not typically used for for straightening teeth but they may be recommended after some orthodontic treatments, like braces.  Retainers can help  ”retain” your teeth’s corrected position, after orthodontic treatment has been completed, or to close remaining gaps.  Your dentist will advise you on reasons why a retainer is right for you.

Generally, there are two kinds of retainers—fixed and removable. A fixed retainer is a piece of wire that is bonded to the inner surface of the teeth to maintain their position. Unlike a removable retainer, a fixed retainer is not something taken in and out of the mouth by yourself—that’s a job for your orthodontist.

Removable retainers, on the other hand, are orthodontic appliances that you can insert and remove by yourself, typically before eating, flossing, and brushing your teeth. There are a number of different types of removable retainers, including those with wires on acrylic bases, wired retainers and clear plastic retainers. Wired retainers consist of a metal wire that that fits  around the outside of the teeth and an acrylic or plastic base that fits in the mouth to keep the retainer in place. A clear plastic retainer, also called molded retainer, is exactly what it sounds like—a piece of clear plastic that is molded to the shape of your teeth.

While all types of retainers have their own set of advantages and disadvantages, it is ultimately your orthodontist’s call when it comes to which one is best for your situation. Regardless, the most important thing about removable retainers is remembering to wear them—if you don’t wear your retainer regularly, you run the risk of the alignment of your teeth relapsing! 


How Much Do Retainers Cost?

There’s no easy answer to this question, because each orthodontist and retainer manufacturer will charge a different amount. Dental insurance also comes into play here, and everyone’s access to insurance is different.

  • In general, a removable wire retainer may cost approximately anywhere between $150 and $600 in the U.S.
  • Clear plastic removable retainers tend to ring up around $400 to $800.

Sometimes, a retainer will be included in the cost of braces. Talk to your orthodontist or dentist and consult with your insurance provider, if you have one, to find out more about your financial options when it comes to how much a retainer costs.


Aligners: Tips That Are Helpful

Clear aligners are popular for those who want a less-visible option than traditional braces when it comes to straightening the alignment of teeth. The way a clear aligner works is by slowly moving teeth over time in order to reach the desired alignment.iv  You can discuss this with your orthodontist and determine if this is the best course of treatment for you. Then, your orthodontist will create a treatment plan and design a series of aligners to slowly guide your teeth into their optimal healthy position.v Your orthodontist will advise you on how long your aligners need to be worn or

The number of aligners you transition through and the amount of time it takes for your teeth to reach their healthy positions vary from patient to patient. One thing every alignment treatment plan does include, however, is the need to wear a retainer once your treatment is complete—just like getting braces, if you don’t use a retainer to help maintain your straightened smile, your teeth risk relapsing into their old positions! See the section above for information on retainers.vii


How Much Do Aligners Cost?

There’s no easy answer to how much aligners cost because there are a number of aligner brands, each with their own unique set of charges.

  • Depending on your treatment plan and insurance coverage, the cost of clear aligners may cost up to $5,500, but the specifics will vary based on your situation.

Some aligner brands offer monthly payment plans and some dental insurers will cover all or part of your treatment, but these financial options will be different based on every individual situation. Talk to your dentist, orthodontist, or dental insurance provider to learn more about what options are available to you.

Retainers and aligners can be on the pricey side. However, properly caring for them can help preserve their quality. Use ProGuard to keep your retainer or aligner clear.

Looking for more resources on tooth loss, living with dentures, and more? Visit our FAQ page to get all your questions answered.



  1. Guide to Tooth Alignment for Adults. UIC College of Dentistry. Accessed 10/21/20. Referenced text highlighted on source PDF.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Orthodontic Treatment with Clear Aligners. American Association of Orthodontists. Accessed 10/21/20. Referenced text highlighted on source PDF. 
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.

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