Updated on February 22, 2024
8 min read

Invisalign vs Braces Cost

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Cost of Invisalign vs. Braces

The average cost of Invisalign is comparable to the cost of braces.

According to the American Dental Association (ADA) 2020 Survey of Dental Fees, traditional metal braces cost between $4,200 to $6,600. They may cost up to $10,000 for severe cases.

The cost of clear aligners varies greatly. This is especially true between in-office treatment, such as Invisalign aligners, and at-home aligners such as Byte and SmileDirectClub.

The average cost of treatment without insurance is:

  • Invisalign: $3,000 to $8,000 (100% in-office)
  • Candid: $3,300 (on average — not completely remote)
  • Byte: $1,895 to $2,295 (completely remote)
  • SmileDirectClub: $1,950 (completely remote)

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Invisalign vs Braces Cost
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Cost Comparison

ByteInvisalignBraces
CostAll-Day Aligners:
$1,895
$3,000 to $8,000$3,000 to $12,000
Treatment Time4 to 6 months12 to 18 months12 to 24 months
Best ForMild misalignment, some moderate may qualify (take the candidacy quiz)Mild to severe misalignment, excluding skeletal issuesMild to severe misalignment, including skeletal issues (jaw)
Monitoring/Care100% remote monitoring via an appIn-person, every 6 to 8 weeksIn-person, every 4 to 8 weeks

Only your orthodontist can tell you the exact cost of your orthodontic treatment. Each case is different, and various factors affect the price.

In general, the more work your teeth need, the higher the price. For example, if you have an excessive overbite, shifting your teeth into the desired position will take longer. This will lead to a higher cost.

Average orthodontic prices in your city and your dental insurance plan will also affect the price. Combined, these factors may make one option significantly more expensive than the other, even if the average price is similar.

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Does Insurance Cover Invisalign?

There are several factors to consider regarding dental insurance and orthodontic treatment. Here are some things to know:

  • Dental insurance is separate from medical insurance
  • Orthodontic treatment is more likely to be covered for minors (under 18) than for adults
  • Braces are more likely to be covered than Invisalign

If you’re an adult, or if you’re looking to get Invisalign, the price may be higher due to a lack of coverage. In addition, some dental plans don’t cover orthodontic treatment at all.

However, if an insurance policy does cover clear aligners, it’s more likely to cover Invisalign than any other brand. This is because Invisalign is well-established and includes in-office orthodontic visits.

Check with your insurance provider to confirm what your policy covers.

Other Ways to Pay for Braces or Invisalign

If you want to make braces or Invisalign more affordable and don’t have orthodontic insurance, you may be able to:

  • Use funds from an HSA or FSA — if you have an HSA (health savings account) or an FSA (flexible spending account), you may be able to use your tax-free funds to cover orthodontic treatment. Check with your employer or account manager to determine what’s eligible.
  • Make a payment plan with your orthodontist — some orthodontic offices allow you to pay in scheduled installments. Ask orthodontists in your area if they offer payment plans.

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Pros and Cons of Invisalign

There are both pros and cons of Invisalign treatment:

Pros

  • Appearance — clear aligners like Invisalign are virtually invisible. This makes them an attractive option for adults and teenagers who might feel self-conscious wearing metal braces.
  • Convenience — unlike braces, Invisalign aligners can be removed for eating, drinking, and maintaining oral hygiene. This makes brushing and flossing easier than with braces.
  • Fewer consultations — braces and Invisalign require office visits, but Invisalign doesn’t always require them.
  • Comfort — clear aligners are made from flexible plastic and custom-fitted to your teeth. This makes them more comfortable than braces.

Cons

  • Need for discipline — for Invisalign to be effective, you need to wear your aligners for 20 to 22 hours a day. This means you must be consistent about putting them back in after meals or brushing your teeth.
  • Cost — the cost of Invisalign is similar to braces. However, it’s possible your insurance won’t cover Invisalign treatment. This will make the cost higher than for braces.
  • Less versatility — while Invisalign can be effective in more cases than many at-home clear aligners, it still can’t accomplish everything braces can. If you have severely misaligned teeth or jaws, Invisalign may not be a viable option.

What Is Invisalign?

Invisalign treatment uses removable clear aligners to straighten your teeth. These aligners are custom-made, discreet, and comfortable. Clear aligners are ideal for mild cases of malocclusion (misaligned teeth).

Invisalign Product Shot

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What Are Traditional Braces?

Traditional braces consist of metal brackets and wires that extend across your teeth, often held together by rubber bands. They move your teeth into the correct position by applying pressure.

metal bracesNewMouth

The wire is tightened by an orthodontist or dentist every 4 to 6 weeks. This slowly shifts your teeth into place.

Close up shot of a woman smiling with her power chain braces on

Clear braces, also called invisible or ceramic braces, are also available. They function the same as traditional braces. But they have tooth-colored brackets and white or clear rubber bands. This makes them less conspicuous, but it also tends to make them more expensive.

Is Invisalign Faster Than Braces?

Invisalign usually works faster in straightening teeth than traditional braces. While braces often take 1 to 3 years, Invisalign typically takes up to 18 months. In some cases, it may take as little as 6 months.

However, there’s no guaranteed treatment time for either option. The amount of time you’ll have to wear braces or aligners will depend on your specific needs. Talk to your orthodontist to determine how long the process will take.

In addition, Invisalign’s shorter average treatment time is mainly due to Invisalign being used for less severe cases.

Invisalign is highly versatile as far as clear aligners go. It can even help correct an overbite. But it can’t treat the severe issues that braces can. This means Invisalign treatment may be shorter, simply due to your needs not being as complex.

Pros and Cons of Braces

There are also pros and cons to braces:

Pros

  • Versatile — braces are the most effective treatment for shifting crooked teeth into the correct position. They can handle more complex alignment issues than clear aligners can. They can also be combined with orthodontic headgear.
  • Precision — in some cases, traditional braces can achieve better results than Invisalign. This is because they exert more pressure on the teeth. 
  • Style choices — there are various types of braces to choose from. Alternatives to traditional metal braces include ceramic braces and lingual braces, which are more discreet.
  • Less need for discipline — braces stay in place for the entire treatment process. Unlike Invisalign, you won’t have to remember to wear them.

Cons

  • Aesthetics — many people dislike the look of traditional braces. They can make some people feel more conscious of their appearance, especially in social settings.
  • Difficulty with oral hygiene — brushing and flossing your teeth is more challenging with braces. They can also trap food particles.
  • Diet and food preparation — similarly, braces require you to be careful when eating certain foods and drinks. Hard and sticky foods can pop brackets out of place, requiring another appointment.
  • Regular consultations — braces usually require more frequent orthodontist visits to check progress. Expect about one appointment per month (Invisalign may only require one every 6 weeks).

Which Will Work Best For You – Braces vs Invisalign?

Both traditional braces and Invisalign have their pros and cons. If you are an adult or have a teenager who tends to be self-conscious, Invisalign may be more appealing than braces.

Invisalign aligners allow you to eat, drink, brush, and floss more naturally. But if having to remove the aligner trays for eating or drinking anything apart from water seems inconvenient, Invisalign treatment may not be for you.

Invisalign held by doctor

Invisalign’s success also depends almost entirely on the wearer. If you do not wear your Invisalign aligners, they will not work. Braces, on the other hand, stay in place without you having to think about it.

If you need to treat your back teeth or need to rotate or shift teeth extensively, Invisalign may not be an option for you. You may need traditional braces to accomplish this.

It’s a good idea to visit an orthodontist experienced with both traditional metal braces and Invisalign. That way, they can recommend the most effective treatment for your needs.

Cheaper Alternatives to Braces & Invisalign

If you have mild orthodontic needs, you may have cheaper treatment options. These include:

  • Other in-office aligners — there are other brands of clear aligners that offer in-person treatment monitoring at a potentially lower cost. These include ClearCorrect and 3M Clarity.
  • At-home or direct-to-consumer aligners — some companies offer clear aligners that don’t require office visits. They’ll mail you an impression kit, use your impressions to make the aligners, and mail your aligners once they’re ready.

At-home aligner brands include Byte, SmileDirectClub, and Candid (which offers partially in-person monitoring). These are most effective for mild to moderate teeth alignment issues. If your needs are more complex, Invisalign or braces may be required.

Summary

Both Invisalign and braces cost around $5,000 on average. However, this is within a wide range of possible costs. Various factors can affect the price you end up paying, including:

  • Your unique treatment needs
  • Your insurance coverage
  • Whether you choose traditional, lingual, or ceramic braces
  • Your location

To determine what your costs will be and which might be the better option, talk to a local orthodontist. If you have insurance and want to know if you’ll be covered, contact your insurance provider.

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What’s Next?

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Last updated on February 22, 2024
6 Sources Cited
Last updated on February 22, 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).
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