Most people dread hearing from their dentist that they may be required to wear braces. In fact, the first thing they may ask after learning of the news is how much do braces cost? That’s because we all know that they are not cheap, and the purchase can often cause a family to dip into their emergency fund or savings to cover the cost. So, what is the actual price tag for braces? And is there a way to make the expense a little less devastating to a budget-conscious parent (or even an adult who might need dental correction?) Here are the details about what goes into the cost for braces, and how you might be able to pay for them.
Traditional Metal Braces Cost
The first type of corrective orthodontics most of us remember is the “metal mouth” – or braces made of stainless steel or titanium. The braces are actually brackets affixed to each tooth, then tied together with wires. The cost of materials isn’t usually what causes the hefty price tag; the frequent visits required of a patient can be numerous. Over the average 3-year plan of treatment with a professional orthodontist or dentist, there can be between 24 and 36 adjustment visits, in addition to the consultation, placement of the braces, and any emergency repairs that may come up.
How Much Do Braces Cost? The national average for basic braces, with a minimum care plan, and no additional hardware, is around $3,000. Some patients can pay up to $5000.
These differ slightly from the first type of braces, as they do not use the same type of wires to tie them together. The sliding bracket requires less “tightening,” which can be painful for some patients. There is also the option to get Damon braces in clear, making them less noticeable for adults or others who are self-conscious about their appearance. You’ll pay more for this proprietary approach to dentistry, however. Damon braces are generally around $1,000 more than the cheapest, traditional metal braces cost. You will, however, see your dentist far less for visits.
How Much Do Damon Braces Cost? Expect to start around $3,800 for the Damon system, with some treatments costing up to $6,000.
Perhaps the most “upscale” name in braces, the Invisalign system is known for its “invisible” appearance. There is no brackets or wires to deal with, and the correctors are removable, making for easy cleaning. Treatment is available to teens and adults only, and are not usually recommended for small children.
The advantages of the Invisalign system will cost more, however. Instead of frequent adjustment visits, a series of aligners will be made, to be worn in succession. A greater number of aligners that need to be crafted will drive the cost higher.
How Much Do Invisalign Braces Cost? Depending on how much treatment is needed, the prices for this system (an alternative to braces) can start around $3000 and can be as expensive as $10,000.
Additional Cost Factors
It’s easy to see that the cost for any type of orthodontic corrective system can range widely between patients. That’s because there are a number of treatment considerations that will determine how long treatment lasts and if any additional equipment will be needed. Children who receive braces are often more likely to be correcting problems that deal with speech and spacing of their entire mouths, and may also need any of the following special tools.
Retainer – This removable dental appliance may only be worn at night, or for a few hours a day. A dental retainer can help space the mouth out properly so that braces can do their job. Usually included in the total cost for braces, you probably won’t notice the cost. If it becomes lost, however, expect to pay $150 – 300 to replace it.
Palatal Expander – Designed to actually enlarge the roof of the mouth, this device is very pricey. Costing $1,200 or more, it’s generally not covered by insurance and isn’t usually included in the price of braces.
Head Gear – While there are different types of appliances designed to anchor and straighten a number of dental malformations, the cost is usually included in any type of plan you received from your dentist.
Paying for Braces
Unless you have a separate dental insurance plan, you can be expected to pay for your cost of braces on your own. Many office take payment plans, can work out up-front cash discounts, or work with you to ensure that the purchase of braces will not be a hardship for you. Rarely, medical insurance will pay for a portion of braces – or even all of them – if the need for them is so dire that it is considered a medical affliction. (This is more common an occurrence for children than in adults, as braces can be seen as a measure of prevention for more costly medical problems down the road.)
Even if you do have dental insurance, expect the copay to be higher and the coverage to be partial. Many popular dental plans only pay out 50% of the total cost and will cap their contributions to $1-2 thousand dollars. Dental insurance plans are also less likely to pay for the newer treatments; some not paying anything for Invisalign.
Invisible Aligners At Home
Finally, new competitors to the market are causing costs for some types of treatments to come down significantly. In answer to the question How much do braces cost? you might find some relief if you can DIY part of the treatment. New companies such as SmileDirectClub.com are offering home-based fitting for invisible aligners for some qualified patients, significantly reducing the costs you would pay to visit a traditional dentist. No in-clinic follow-ups to pay for can keep the cost of this type of program below $1700.
How Much Do Braces Cost?
Depending on how late in life you pursue teeth-straightening, and the materials you choose to use, your total cost for braces will be no less than $1,700. Many patients, however, have had over $8,000 of work done. Your best bet is to research your options, ask questions, and shop around to get the best price for your particular dental needs.