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Replacement Retainer: The Cost and Where to Get One in the UK?

Contributors:  Natalie Asmussen & Amanda Dexter

Are you in need of a replacement retainer after losing or accidentally breaking your old one? Wondering where to get a retainer replacement in the UK? Retainers can cost between £60 – £790 and can be bought online, done on the NHS or fitted by a private dentist.

It is important not to put off getting a new retainer, especially if you have recently finished any orthodontic treatment. You don't want your teeth to move and change position after all that work!

However, we know it can be stressful trying to figure out the ins and outs of getting a new retainer, especially if you can't get an appointment with your dentist right away.

In this article, we'll walk you through everything you need to know about getting a replacement retainer in the UK, including important topics such as:

When should I get a replacement retainer?

After orthodontic treatment, your teeth will continue to move back into their original position. Therefore, once your retainer is lost or broken, it is extremely important that you get a new one as soon as possible.

when to get a replacement retainer
It is important to replace a broken or lost retainer as soon as possible.

Here are some signs that you may need to replace your retainer:

  • Visible signs of wear, like holes or cracking
  • Your retainer is broken or lost
  • A buildup of plaque or discolouration (this can be avoided with proper retainer cleaning)
  • Your retainer does not fit comfortably

Retainers can last months or years before needing replacement, depending on the type. Hawley retainers last longer than clear plastic retainers before needing to be replaced, that being around 5-8 years. Permanent retainers can last 20 years or more, making them the longest-lasting type of retainer.

Make sure you discuss your options with your dentist for a replacement retainer, so that you can get the best fit for you.

Can I get my replacement retainer from a different dentist?

The dentist you had when you had braces as a teenager may be long gone from your life. But, don't worry, your new dentist will most likely be able to access your dental records. You will however still need to make an appointment, and you might have to get new models of your teeth done.

The process of replacing a retainer

Retainer replacements vary from dentist to dentist and between those on the NHS and those on the private sector. Either way, to get a replacement retainer, your orthodontist will first need a model of your teeth to work from.

how and where to get a replacement retainer
The first step to get a replacement retainer usually involves doing a model of your teeth

These models can be made with the traditional moulding putty, or with 3D scans, which tend to be more accurate. Once the models have been made to your orthodontist's satisfaction, they will then be sent to a lab where your actual retainer will be made.

In rare cases, you will not need to do a model of your teeth. This only happens if your orthodontist or dental lab has the records of your teeth stored in their system, and if your teeth haven't shifted out of position. They'll then be able to make your new retainers without you even making a physical trip to the office.

Note that all permanent retainers need to be fixed or replaced at a dentist's office. Please don't try to fix your permanent retainer at home!

In the video below, Dr Jiten Vadukul discusses broken retainers and the process of getting a replacement from your orthodontist:

In this video, I will explain what can happen when you break or you lose an orthodontic retainer and why you should seek a professional opinion from your Orthodontist in these situations straight away. If the teeth are not held in place following orthodontic treatment with some form of orthodontic retainer, they are very likely to move out of position. Thank you for watching, Dr. Jiten Vadukul BDS MScD Orth MJDF RCS Eng MOrth RCS Ed Specialist Orthodontist This video represents the professional opinion of Dr. Jiten Vadukul and does not necessarily reflect the views of any of the companies that Dr. Jiten Vadukul is affiliated with. This video is intended for educational purposes only. For personalised professional advice specific to you, please get in contact via www.jvbraces.com or speak with an Orthodontist local to you. Credits: Music: https://www.purple-planet.com Filming location: Ewell Orthodontics

The cost of a replacement retainer in the UK, and where to get one

A replacement retainer can cost anywhere between £60 – £790, depending on the type and where you get them from. Let's have a look at some of the common types of retainers and the cost of replacing them.

NHS retainer replacement cost

If you go to an NHS dentist you will have to pay a fee for replacement retainers, regardless if you or your child had your braces treatment for free. The NHS charge for replacement retainers is £84.80 per device.

Clear plastic retainer replacement cost

The cost of replacing clear plastic retainers can vary greatly. For a set, you can pay anywhere from £60 to £700. To narrow down the price range, it helps to take a look at specific brands, like Invisalign (Vivera) or Essix retainers. We'll talk more about these clear plastic retainer types below.

replacement retainer types
Replacement clear retainers can cost anywhere between £60 and £700

Invisalign (Vivera) retainer replacement cost

There is no fixed replacement retainer cost for Vivera retainers (Invisalign retainers), but you can purchase them in sets of four, which helps to save on the cost a bit. For a set of four Vivera retainers, you can expect to pay anywhere from £125 – £200.

Vivera retainers are some of the most affordable retainers available, and they also tend to be quite durable. They are available to anyone through a dentist, not just for Invisalign patients.

Essix retainer replacement cost

Essix retainers are the original clear plastic retainer and these can cost anywhere from £60 – £145 for a single retainer when buying directly from a dentist. You can buy them for cheaper online

If you're interested in ordering replacement Essix retainers online, make sure to choose a reputable service. Read more on purchasing replacement retainers online further down in the article.

Hawley retainer replacement cost

Despite having an unaesthetic metal bar that crosses your teeth, the Hawley retainers are often the best value for your money. They are the most durable kind of retainer and they're easy to clean. They're also more on the affordable side, ranging from £70 – £150 per single retainer.

Have a look at the table below for a summary of the different retainer costs and lifespan estimates:

Type of retainer

Material

Permanent or removable?

Price range

Lasts for:

Fixed (bonded)

Wire fixed behind teeth

Permanent

£100 - £400 (single)

3 - 10 years

Hawley (metal)

Wire and plastic

Removable

£70 - £150 (single)

5 - 10 years

Essix (clear)

Clear plastic

Removable

£60 - £145 (single)

6 months - 3 years

Vivera (Invisalign)

Clear plastic

Removable

£125 - £200 per set

1 - 5 years
 

What to do when you can't afford a replacement retainer

Despite their affordability, some retainers still cost a lot of money, and many people choose not to replace them to avoid the extra expense. You'll most probably also need to get new moulds made of your teeth, which could add to the cost.

However, if you do not replace your retainer, your teeth will shift out of place more quickly, causing you to lose the progress from your orthodontic treatment.

So how can you find affordable retainer replacement? Let's find out!

What's the cheapest retainer replacement option?

The cheapest retainer replacement will be the online method. Many companies are offering affordable retainer replacement at a much lower cost than you would find at the dentist.

In many cases, that doesn't mean that your online retainers are of inferior quality. These companies offer the cheapest prices thanks to excluding dentist costs and allowing patients to make their own teeth moulds at home.

How do I buy a replacement retainer online?

Replacement retainers are becoming more and more accessible online. Retainer types like Essix and Hawley are among the most popular online options.

The replacement process usually involves ordering a tooth impression kit online, making the models of your teeth at home, and sending them back to the company. The company will then use your models to craft your replacement retainers in the lab and send them back to you.

Many people prefer the online option since it doesn't include the hassle of visiting the dentist's office. Of course, some people rather prefer direct contact with their orthodontist or may find it difficult to make their own teeth models at home.

It's however only recommended to buy a replacement retainer online if you have gotten the OK from your dentist or orthodontist, and when you use a reputable online company. Permanent retainers cannot be bought online, since your dentist needs to fix them permanently to your teeth.

buy replacement retainer online
Essix and Hawley retainers are among some of the most popular online options.

Essix online replacement retainer

As previously mentioned, Essix retainers are the original clear, plastic retainers. Several companies in the UK offer Essix retainers online. This service can be useful if you are unable to visit a dentist's office, or looking for a more affordable retainer replacement option.

These online retainer companies will send you an impression kit that you use to make moulds of your teeth at home. Once you've made your moulds, you send them off to a dental lab. The lab will create your retainers and post them to you.

Companies like Guardian Pro, Vivident and Retainers Online all offer this service in the UK.

Hawley retainer online

If you want to purchase your Hawley retainer online, you'll typically pay between £70 – £150.

The general steps you'll need to follow to get your Hawley retainer are:

  • Make sure that the Hawley retainer is most suitable for your needs. These retainers are typically used to hold teeth in place that are already straightened—they are not used to straighten teeth.
  • Order your impression kit to make your teeth moulds at home.
  • Take your teeth impressions per kit instructions.
  • Receive your replacement Hawley retainer in the mail.

Conclusion

You'll inevitably have to get a replacement retainer somewhere in your life. While permanent retainers can last up to 20 years, clear plastic retainers need to be replaced every couple of years. Other retainers even need to be replaced every 6 months.

need a replacement retainer
When replacing a retainer, you'll have to consider their cost and where to get them

However, no matter what type of retainer you have, it's important to replace your retainers if they are broken, lost, or worn out since your teeth will start to move out of alignment.

To replace your retainer, you can expect to pay anywhere between £60 – £790 in the UK, depending on the type and whether you get them on the NHS or privately.

Online retainers are the most affordable and hassle-free replacement option, but will require you to make your own teeth mould at home.

Discuss your replacement retainer options with your orthodontist or dentist to ensure that you get the right fit for you.

FAQs

How much is a replacement retainer in the UK?

To replace your retainer, you can expect to pay anywhere between £60 – £790 in the UK. The cost of replacement retainers will depend on the type of retainer you get and whether you get it in-office or online.

Invisalign retainers can cost anywhere between £125 – £200 per set. Essix retainers generally cost between £60 – £145 per retainer, and Hawley replacement retainers cost between £70 – £150 per retainer to replace.

Can I buy replacement retainers online in the UK?

Replacement retainers are becoming more and more accessible online. Retainer types like Essix and Hawley are among the most popular online options.The replacement process usually involves ordering a tooth impression kit online, making the models of your teeth at home, and sending them back to the company. The company will then use your models to craft your replacement retainers in the lab and send them back to you.

How often should I get a new retainer?

The frequency with which you should replace your retainer depends on the kind of retainer. Some require you to change them every few months and others, like permanent retainers, can last 20 years. You should also replace your retainers if they break or show signs of severe wear and tear, or discolouration.

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Replacement Retainer: The Cost and Where to Get One in the UK?
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Contributors:
Natalie used to work as a Community Health Worker and Health Insurance Navigator. She continues to follow her passion for connecting people with the healthcare they need by writing informative content about dentistry and medicine.
Amanda combines her medical background with her love for writing to bring you informed and accurate content at Dentaly.org.
Sources

European Journal of Orthodontics: Survival Analysis of Orthodontic Retainers. Consulted 23rd May 2021.