Perhaps you sat down to eat, left the house, or went for a midnight snack and realized you were without your retainer case. You wrapped your retainer in a napkin or paper towel, or even set it down in a safe place, and continued with what you were doing.
When you were done, you went back for your retainer – but it was gone, and no amount of searching is bringing it back.
Losing or breaking your retainer is stressful, and now you’re wondering, how much does it cost to get a new retainer?
What is a Retainer Used for?
A retainer does precisely what it sounds like it does. It works to “retain” the teeth, maintaining their current position.
Retainers are typically used following treatment to straighten the teeth, such as braces and aligners. Sometimes, a retainer will be used before treatment or to correct minor issues, but that isn’t very common.
There are three common types of retainers:
- Removable Wire Retainers (Hawley Retainer): These are designed to cover most of your palate, and put minimal pressure on your teeth using wires. They can be tightened or repaired over time. Removable wire retainers can be designed with various colors and logos. Due to their design, they don’t protect against the grinding of the teeth. If lost or broken beyond repair, they can also be expensive to replace.
- Clear Plastic Retainer: These look and work similar to aligners. They’re removable and barely noticeable if worn during the day. As a benefit, they also protect against teeth grinding. The primary disadvantage to these is that they typically don’t last as long as other retainers.
- Bonded Permanent Retainer: These retainers are a solid bar of metal permanently bonded to the back of your teeth. No instructions are needed to be followed while wearing them, making them a popular choice. Additional care is required while wearing them, though, as they can make it difficult to brush and floss in that area.
Regardless of which type of retainer you and your orthodontist decided was the best choice, you’re probably thinking of the future. This can include concerns like what happens if I lose my retainer, and how much is a replacement retainer?
What Should You Do if You Lose a Retainer?
While losing your retainer may not be an emergency, you should still fix it as soon as possible. To avoid losing your removable retainer, you should always take care to put it in its retainer case when you’re not using it. Most retainers are lost in school lunchrooms or restaurants.
You need to contact your orthodontist or at-home straightening service as soon as possible. The quicker you initiate the replacement process, the better results for your teeth. The longer your teeth go without a retainer, the higher the risks of them moving back into their original place and ruining the straightening treatment. You can read more about the importance of retainers here.
How Much is a Replacement Retainer?
The cost of the replacement retainer will depend on the type of retainer you have.
While uncommon, if you face any problems with your permanently bonded retainer, you may need it to be replaced. This includes a trip to the orthodontist’s office and bill of approximately $250-$500 for one arch (top or bottom), the same price you would have paid for the retainer originally.
On the other hand, clear plastic retainers need to be replaced routinely, even if they’re not lost. So if you misplace or break your plastic retainer, you’ll end up paying the routine replacement cost earlier than expected. The cost of replacement plastic retainers depends on the brand:
- Essix and Zendura: $100-$300 for one
- Smile Direct Club: $99 for one set (top and bottom), and most teledentistry companies have similar pricing.
Hawley retainers can last up to twenty years if cared for correctly, so it can be extraordinarily stressful if you find yourself in need of a replacement. Luckily, fixed wire retainers fall in a similar place range as the other types of retainers. For one arch, the cost is typically $150-$300, and for two arches $300-$600.
Depending on your insurance, a set of replacement retainers may be covered, but it isn’t likely. Regardless of your situation, reaching out to your orthodontist and figuring out the best plan of action to replace your retainer should be your first step.