Updated on April 26, 2024
7 min read

Can You Order Retainers Online?

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How Do Online Retainer Companies Work?

To create custom retainers, the manufacturers need impressions of your teeth. Online retainer retailers strive to make the ordering and impressions process as simple as possible. 

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Ordering Online Retainers: Step-by-Step Process

The specific process may vary depending on which online retailer you choose. In general, you can expect the following:

  1. Order an impression kit from the company’s website. Some offer extra putty, which may be helpful if you need to try again.
  2. Once you receive your kit in the mail, make your impressions. Be sure to review any included instructions and informational videos on how to take good impressions.
  3. Return the impression kit. From here, the dental lab will create your custom retainers.
  4. Receive your new retainers right at your door. Be sure to wear them as directed and switch them out routinely. 

How to Take an Accurate Impression at Home

Some people find at-home impression kits to be a little tricky, and others think it’s a piece of cake. 

Before you attempt to make dental impressions, we recommend reviewing the instructions in your kit and any videos on the retailer’s website. 

Here are simple steps for taking an accurate impression:

  1. Mix the putty and roll it between your hands to create a rope about 3 inches long (within 10 seconds)
  2. Place the roll of putty into the impression tray (within 15 seconds)
  3. Open your mouth wide, center the tray over your teeth, and press deeply and evenly
  4. Make sure the impression fits over all your teeth and onto the gums
  5. Relax and sit still while you wait for the recommended amount of time (usually 3 to 4 minutes) for the putty to set
  6. After completing your upper impression, repeat the process with the lower tray

How to Find Reliable Retainers Online

There are many online retainer retailers out there. With so many options available, finding a company that will fit your needs is easy.

Top Dental Retainers Online Services and Brands

Here are some of our favorite online retainer companies:

1. Retainers Direct

Cost: $149.99 (full set) or $84.99 (single arch)

Retainers Direct is a relatively new brand that sells custom clear retainers at affordable prices.  They offer a membership with unlimited retainers for three years for $49.99.

2. Sporting Smiles

Cost: $120 (full set) or $90 (single arch)

Sporting Smiles is an established online dental lab that’s been in the retainer industry since 2009. 

The prices listed are for their standard clear retainer, the Essix retainer. The Essix Plus is supposedly the most durable clear retainer available for a slightly higher price than the standard option.

3. ClearRetain

Cost: $104.25 (full set) or $66.75 (single arch)

ClearRetain specializes in affordable clear retainers and night guards for teeth grinding. They’ve been in business since 2014.

Like Sporting Smiles, ClearRetain offers premium retainers for a slightly higher cost. The prices listed are for the standard option. 

Can You Order Retainers from Invisalign?

Invisalign offers retainers. However, you can only purchase Invisalign’s option through a doctor.

Invisalign is a well-known brand that makes clear aligners. They also make clear retainers called Vivera®.

You can order Vivera retainers through your orthodontist or dentist, but not online.

What are Clear Retainers, and How Do They Work?

Clear retainers are removable trays made of see-through plastic. They help maintain the results of orthodontic work, such as braces or clear aligners

hand holding clear aligner 1

Clear plastic retainers are a less-noticeable alternative to Hawley retainers. The Hawley retainer is the traditional and probably most well-known type of retainer. It’s made of molded plastic that fits the roof of your mouth with a metal wire that runs along the outside of your teeth. 

Clear retainers and Hawley retainers use different designs to achieve the same effect. Both types work by putting gentle pressure on your teeth to keep them straight. 

Teeth naturally tend to shift back to their original position after orthodontic treatment. Wearing a retainer helps preserve the beautiful smile created by braces or clear aligners. 

Clear Removable vs. Fixed Retainers

A fixed retainer is also known as a lingual wire or bonded retainer. It consists of a wire that’s permanently bonded to the back of your teeth. 

Fixed and clear removable retainers are less noticeable and less likely to affect your speech than Hawley retainers. However, there are some key differences: 

  • Material — Clear removable retainers are made of transparent plastic, while permanent retainers are made of wire. 
  • Fit — Clear removable retainers are custom-made to fit over your teeth, while permanent retainers are bonded to the back surface of your teeth.
  • Removability — Clear retainers are easy to take out and put back in. A permanent retainer is fixed to your teeth and can only be removed by a dentist or orthodontist. 
  • Maintenance and hygiene Clear retainers should be removed for regular cleaning. Permanent retainers are more difficult to clean around and may require special flossing techniques.
  • Duration of treatment — Your orthodontist might prescribe a clear removable retainer, which needs to be replaced every few months to a year. Most permanent retainers are left in place indefinitely.

The Cost of Clear Retainers and Replacement Retainers

When you buy a clear retainer from your dentist, you can expect to spend about $100 to $300. The cost varies from one office to another.

Buying retainers online can save you as much as $200 or more on your first order. Buying online also offers a lower long-term cost. Many brands offer discounts on replacement retainers for returning customers.

However, the specific cost of replacement retainers varies based on the retailer. Your best bet is to check out some websites listed above for exact prices.

Does Dental Insurance Cover Clear Retainers?

If you have dental insurance, your policy may cover some or all of the cost of clear retainers. Talk to your dentist or orthodontist about exactly what your insurance plan will cover. 

For online orders, you may be able to use money from a health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA) to pay for your retainers.

How Long Do Clear Retainers Last? 

Most clear plastic retainers typically last 6 to 12 months or more. You may need to replace them more often if you break or lose a retainer.

To preserve the longevity of your new retainer, you should:

  • Avoid cleaning the retainer in hot water, as that could melt the plastic 
  • Remove the retainer before you eat or drink hot beverages
  • Put your retainer in a case when you’re not wearing it to avoid accidental loss or damage (i.e., from pets) 
  • Gently clean the retainer with a toothbrush and warm water daily 

How to Care for Clear Retainers

Because they sit in your mouth all day, clear plastic retainers require regular cleaning to prevent bacteria buildup. Here are some best practices for caring for your retainer: 

  • Rinse or brush the retainer with warm water before putting it back in your mouth after you eat.
  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush when brushing your retainer to avoid scratching the plastic.
  • Never use toothpaste to brush your retainer, as it can cause scratches and discoloration.
  • Soak your retainer in vinegar or denture cleaner weekly to kill any lingering bacteria. 

You should also follow any specific care instructions detailed on the company website or provided by your dentist.

What Should I Do If I Lose My Retainer?

You can order a replacement online or through your dentist if you lose your retainer. Cost and turnaround times will vary. Many dental labs keep a copy of your impressions on file for this reason.

You can also order a backup retainer so you don’t have to wait for a replacement if you lose or break yours. It will cost you more money, though. 


Custom clear retainers are available online without a trip to the orthodontist’s office. Many online retailers specialize in custom-made, affordable retainers.

Between the cost savings and convenience, more people are buying retainers online. However, some types of retainers can only be purchased through a doctor.

Last updated on April 26, 2024
6 Sources Cited
Last updated on April 26, 2024
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Retainers.” American Association of Orthodontists, 2023.
  2. Retainers Cost.“ Costhelper Health, nd.
  3. Custom Clear Retainers.” Retainers Direct, 2023.
  4. Everything You Need to Know About Retainers.” Smile Direct Club, nd.
  5. Keep Your Smile Straight with Vivera Retainers.” Invisalign, nd. Andriekute, A, et al.
  6. A Survey of Protocols and Trends in Orthodontic Retention.” Progress in Orthodontics, 2017.
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