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Updated on August 30, 2022

Cost of Braces Explained

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Why Are Braces So Expensive?

Investing in straighter teeth is worth it for many, especially if it allows them to avoid future complications.

But why are braces so expensive? Because tooth movement is a slow and gradual process. It's a labor-intensive process that requires many follow-up appointments over months or years.

Most people go in for a check-up every few weeks for adjustments and to make sure everything is proceeding as intended.

happy woman with braces holding a popsicle

Factors That Make Braces Expensive

Braces aren't cheap. There are a series of factors that drive up the price. 

But before you turn away from braces, it might be easier to look at where your money is going.

Here are a few factors that go into the cost of braces:

1. The Type of Braces 

According to the ADA Survey of Dental Fees 2020, the average cost of braces is around $4,200 to $6,600. They can cost $10,000 or more for severe cases.

The total cost depends on the braces type and the time you need to wear them. Dental insurance may cover some of the cost if you have orthodontic benefits.

The 5 most common types of braces include:

  • Traditional braces: cost between $3,000 and $7,000.
  • Clear braces: cost between $4,000 and $8,000.
  • Lingual braces: cost between $8,000 and $10,000.
  • Invisalign: costs between $3,000 and $8,000. 
  • At-home aligners: cost between $1,700 and $5,500.

2. Equipment 

Having top-of-the-line equipment and materials ensures that each patient has a pleasant experience with their braces. However, it can also drive up the price.

The braces themselves come with additional costs aside from manufacturing. These costs include:

  • Intricate parts and brackets
  • Dentistry supplies and tools
  • Equipment such as X-rays and other machinery

Orthodontists will use these tools and supplies throughout the treatment process. Essentially, your money goes into the maintenance, use, and upkeep of these supplies. 

3. Length of Time 

It can take time for your teeth to move into the correct position. Since teeth move so slowly, braces can stay on for up to 3 years. 

During this time, you’ll be visiting the dentist once or twice a month for adjustments. Every time you go in to tighten your braces, you’ll be paying for several things, including:

  • Labor
  • Materials
  • Equipment
  • Maintenance

Essentially, the time it takes to complete your treatment and the cost of each appointment add to the price. 

4. Your Dentist 

Another factor that adds to the price of braces is your dentist. Your dentist's skill, reputation, and experience come at a price.

If your dentist has extensive experience in the field, prices are likely to be higher. The price can also go up if your dentist has a good reputation. Finding a balance between an experienced dentist and reasonable prices can be hard.

Lastly, the dentist’s location can also drive up the price. You can expect higher dental care prices in places where rent is higher.

Conversely, you might find lower prices if you go to a dentist in a smaller area.  

5. Payment Options & Plans 

Every dental plan is different. The amount covered by insurance varies from situation to situation.

The actual amount you pay out of pocket is based on the braces' total cost minus the percentage covered by insurance.

You must also consider deductibles, co-pays for visits, and other factors.

It’s impossible to determine how much braces would cost because everyone is different. Once an orthodontist examines your teeth, they’ll be able to give you the proper payment plan appropriate for your treatment.

The chances of insurance covering braces are higher when a dentist deems braces necessary for dental health purposes instead of cosmetic reasons.

What to Do When You Can't Afford Braces?

You have options if braces cost too much and you aren’t sure how to afford this treatment. Many dentists and orthodontists offer payment plans.

There are also discount dental plans available for those who do not have traditional dental insurance coverage.

And in some cases, alternative treatments such as clear aligners allow you to fix your alignment for less than the cost of braces. 

Keep in mind: If you're considering alternative treatment, consider the total cost and ensure it's less than the total cost of braces. 

Some people use credit to help pay for braces. Health care credit from third-party credit companies makes it possible to extend payments over time, but you’ll have to pay interest.

Make sure you understand the terms of a healthcare line of credit before choosing this option.

Best Alternative to Braces: Clear Aligners

Here are some alternatives to braces:

Invisalign

Invisalign is one of the best-known dental realignment brands. Treatment consists of removable clear aligners that gradually straighten teeth and correct bite, crowding, and gaps.

You wear aligners day and night except when eating, drinking, or brushing teeth for approximately six to 18 months.

The cost of Invisalign treatment averages about $5,000 and varies based on:

  • Length of the treatment plan
  • Complexity of case
  • Whether you see a dentist or orthodontist for treatment 
  • Whether insurance will cover a portion of the cost

Byte

Byte provides customized invisible aligners. They claim teeth can be straightened in half the time as competitors, offering a lifetime guarantee.

The cost is $1,999. It’s also possible to sign up for a payment plan

byte impression kits

Candid

Candid offers clear aligners made of Zendrua thermoplastic. Patients say these aligners are more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing than braces.

Treatment typically takes, on average, 6 months and costs an average of $3,300.

candid starter kit

SmileDirectClub

Smile Direct Club offers customized aligners that shift teeth. The product claims it works in as little as six months and includes teeth whitening.

The treatment cost is $2,050 when paid in full upfront. There is also a payment plan available.

SmileDirect offers FSA, HSA, and CareCredit. Some insurance plans offer reimbursement for Smile Direct aligners.

smile direct club e1598562602831
6 Sources Cited
Last updated on August 30, 2022
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).
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