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Braces and Insurance Coverage

Ellie Swain Headshot
Written by
Ellie Swain
Medically Reviewed by 
Dr. Erica Anand
6 Sources Cited

How Much Do Braces Cost?

The cost of braces depends on various factors, including:

  • Your age
  • Orthodontic problem(s) that need to be addressed
  • Location of the dental office
  • Type of braces you choose
  • If you have insurance

In general, braces range from $3,000 to $13,000. Here are the average costs for each type:1

Does Insurance Cover Braces?

Major medical insurance plans don’t usually include dental coverage. You’ll need to purchase a supplemental plan separately. 

When it comes to braces, it’s essential to know what your insurance covers.

If you have children 18 or younger, insurers must offer an option to buy dental insurance that meets the Affordable Care Act (ACA) criteria. 

Dental plans differ from state to state and cover various services. For example, some policies cover the cost of topical fluoride, sealants, and preventive care. Restorative work like fillings and crowns is usually only partially covered. 

Most policies cover preventive care in full (e.g., teeth cleanings and exams) if you visit an in-network dentist. 

Most insurers don’t cover orthodontic treatment for people over 18. But many at least partially cover children under 18.

If your child is nearing the age of braces, consider checking the fine print of your plan. Your insurer may provide coverage if your child has a medical need for braces. For example, if they have difficulty chewing or have jaw misalignment.

All dental plans have an annual cap on procedures for the year. The fees of your child’s braces may fulfill or exceed your yearly cap.

Some orthodontic plans won’t pay for braces if your child received them before the policy's effective date. This makes them an out-of-pocket expense. Try to keep the same insurance plan during your child’s entire orthodontic treatment to avoid this.

You may need to buy a supplemental orthodontic insurance plan to receive coverage for your child’s braces.

What Types of Insurance Cover Braces? 

In some circumstances, private individual and family plans provide coverage for orthodontic care. Employer-sponsored dental insurance policies sometimes contain this optional coverage.

If your current plan doesn’t cover braces, you can supplement it with a more inclusive dental plan.

Various dental plans may include the following services for children and adults:

  • Exams
  • Orthodontic treatment, like braces
  • Retainers necessary for pre- and post-orthodontic treatment 

To understand your out-of-pocket fees, you’ll need to check the following:

  • Premium – a monthly fee you pay for dental coverage. 
  • Deductible – the amount you pay for dental services before your insurer covers a portion of the cost. 
  • Co-pays – the cost-share amount you contribute for covered dental services. It’s usually a flat dollar fee or a percentage of the cost for the service.
  • Exclusions – dental services that aren’t covered under any circumstance. This includes pre-existing conditions and the time until a defined wait period expires.

Some insurers that offer the best coverage for braces include:

Delta

Delta Dental insurance is the United States’ biggest dental insurance provider. The company covers over 80 million people across the country. Its network includes 155,000 dentists. 

The brand offers four options for orthodontic coverage: 

  • Delta Dental Premier®
  • Delta Dental PPO 
  • DeltaCare® USA 
  • Delta Dental PPO Plus Premier

Delta Dental Premier® is a fee-for-service policy. It has the most coverage and largest network.

Delta Dental PPO offers lower out-of-pocket fees for in-network providers. It is a mid-range option.

The cheapest option is DeltaCare® USA, a prepaid plan. This policy has set co-payments and no annual deductibles or yearly maximums.

Delta Dental PPO Plus Premier is a mix of Delta Dental PPO and Delta Dental Premier. 

Annual and lifetime caps differ by policy. The entire cost of braces depends on the exact treatment you need.

You’ll need a pre-treatment estimate from your dentist or orthodontist to begin. The coverage differs by plan and only applies to active treatment.

Humana

Humana insurance is one of the biggest dental insurance providers in the United States.

The company provides dental insurance in all 48 states. It includes a network of over 260,000 dentists.

Humana provides a variety of individual dental policies, including:

  • Loyalty Plus 
  • Dental Value 
  • Preventative Plus 
  • Dental Savings Plus
  • Complete Dental 

These plans work as a discount dental plan for orthodontic work. This means there are no annual or lifetime limits.

Pricing varies depending on your plan and where you live.

Aetna

Aetna is a national insurance brand with 50 years of experience in dental insurance.

The company has around 13 million members. It offers access to more than 120,000 dental providers nationwide.

These insurers offer two individual plans: Aetna Dental® Direct and Aetna® Vital Savings Dental Discount Card.

Aetna doesn’t cover braces. However, you may get a discount of 15 to 50 percent off retail on orthodontics via the Aetna® Vital Savings Dental Discount Card.

This is a dental discount program without waiting periods. There are no annual or lifetime limits.

Aetna® Vital Savings costs $7.99 per month for dental-only. Or, it costs $9.99 for their dental plus Rx card. 

Other Ways to Pay for Braces Without Insurance

There are alternative ways to pay for braces without insurance:

Discount Dental Plans

Discount dental plans are annual, fee-based plans that you purchase outright.2

Insurers and separate vendors offer these plans. Discount plans aren’t dental insurance.

Discount dental plans work like a membership program. They provide savings on various dental services. They may also come with other advantages.

HSA/FSA

If you have health insurance with a Flexible Savings Account (FSA), you may find that you’re eligible for reimbursement for orthodontics.

Through your employer, you may be able to set aside money from your paycheck to your FSA. You’ll still pay the same amount, but your money will be tax-free.

Like an FSA, you can opt for a Health Savings Account (HSA) if you’re on a high-deductible health insurance plan. You can invest tax-free dollars into your HSA to use for most medical and dental bills.

This type of account can move with you from job to job.

Payment Plans 

Many orthodontists offer payment plans to help people pay for their braces. Some are very flexible and even interest-free.

Personal Loans

Personal loans can fund orthodontic treatment like braces. 

Speak with your orthodontist to see if you can get a discounted price to avoid interest charges. You can do this by purchasing a sizable percentage of the cost upfront.

Braces Alternatives 

There are various alternatives to traditional metal braces:

Invisalign

Invisalign is the most established and trusted brand of clear aligners (also called invisible braces or invisible aligners). Aligners are a clear, convenient, and removable alternative to standard braces. The trays are made of medical-grade, BPA-free plastic. 

Aligners are a great option for teenagers and adults who want to straighten their teeth comfortably and discreetly. Unlike metal braces, Invisalign can be removed at any time for eating, cleaning, and brushing.

Invisalign can be slightly more expensive than conventional braces. However, some dental insurers cover a portion of the cost.

Before insurance, Invisalign treatment costs anywhere from $3,000 to $8,000.

Porcelain veneers

Veneers are best for people with teeth that are:

  • Discolored
  • Misshaped
  • Chipped
  • Gapped

Porcelain veneers are made from very thin but durable material. They can last between 10 to 15 years.

To improve your teeth’s appearance, your dentist will remove a very thin amount of tooth enamel. Then, they’ll place the custom-made veneers over your front teeth.

Veneers can also be made from resin. Resin may break more easily than ceramic. 

Porcelain veneers are pricey and cost between $925 to $2,500 per tooth. Because they are considered a cosmetic procedure, dental insurance doesn’t typically cover veneers.

Retainers

Retainers maintain tooth positioning after braces. They can also correct very minor misalignment.

For example, retainers can close slight gaps between teeth or straighten minorly crowded teeth.

Retainers cost anywhere from $100 to $500 without insurance.

Last updated on March 31, 2022
6 Sources Cited
Last updated on March 31, 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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