The Definitive Guide to Braces Costs and How to Reduce Them

The thought of a perfect smile entices many Americans. If you that includes you, the cost of braces is probably pretty important to you. (After all, it’s probably why you ended up on this page.)

Once you know how much they cost, your next question will probably be:

How can I save money on braces?

We’ll help you with all of that. In this braces cost guide, we’ll teach you everything you need to know. This includes a detailed look at how different types of braces are priced as well as the best info online about how to reduce the total cost.

Whether you’re shopping for your children or yourself, you’ll want to consider the total cost of braces before jumping in.

The True Costs of Braces

Braces are recommended to patients who have or show the potential for various issues.

Most of these issues seem cosmetic—crooked teeth, overcrowding, overbite, underbite, etc. And many times, they are. However, these same issues can sometimes contribute to gum disease, decay, tooth pain, headaches, and other more serious problems.

Braces can also increase tooth functionality, making chewing easier and more effective.

For many, the price is well worth it.

Keep in mind that there are a few costs that aren’t monetary. Namely: Time and Inconvenience. Braces can be a pain, literally and figuratively. Plus, the average treatment time ranges from 1 to 2 years, but there are outliers on both sides.

Your experience may be extremely short. Or, you may have to deal with braces for several years. Just like the financial cost, it comes down to a variety of factors, such as the complexity of your realignment, where you live, and the orthodontist you choose.

The simplest way to break it down is based on which type of braces you need.

Traditional Braces Cost

These are the braces most people are familiar with.

Conventional metal braces usually cost $3,000-7,500 total. But this figure could be considerably higher depending on your particular case. Traditional braces are usually the least expensive option, and the only one for extensive treatment.

The treatment consists of metal brackets fastened directly to your teeth that are then connect by an archwire and held in place by elastic bands. These wires are tightened over time to bring teeth to their desired location.

We’ve included both the cost of conventional braces themselves as well as potential associated costs such as X-rays and retainers. You will end up paying the total over time as braces usually require both maintenance and aftercare.

How to save money on braces?

Use dental savings plans, an alternative to dental insurance. Saving with dental plans is very simple. Join a plan, visit your dentist and get access to discounted rates for all dental procedures, including braces. See sample savings below:

Procedure No plan With plan You save % Saved
Braces Full Orthodontic Child Treatment $5658 $3839 $1819 32%
Braces Full Orthodontic Adult Treatment $5936 $4031 $1905 32%
Full mouth x-rays $180 $75 $105 58%

Looks good? Click button below to find out how dental saving plans work and where you can sign up.

Learn more

Ceramic Braces Cost

Ceramic braces are more discreet than conventional ones.

Ceramic braces usually cost $3,500-8,000 total. Basically, ceramic braces are slightly more expensive than traditional ones. The main reason is because the average treatment time is a little bit longer.

Unlike metal, ceramic brackets are clear or tooth-colored. The archwire that connects them is also colored to blend in. All-in-all, the process is very similar to traditional braces. Just note that they are considered less comfortable.

Ceramic brackets themselves do cost a bit more than metal ones, but the main issue is fragility. They are more prone to break, which prolongs treatment and can also require repairs. If you live in a smaller market, availability can also push price up.

Invisible Braces Cost

“Invisible” braces are an even more popular option for those looking for a discreet fix.

Invisible braces treatment, or “Invisalign”, usually costs $3,500-8,500 total. Though comparatively new, these retainer trays have been around long enough that they can now compete fairly well with traditional braces in terms of price. It does still take more time though.

Unlike the other options on this list, there are no semi-permanent brackets or wires. Instead, Invisalign treatment uses custom-fit trays to move your teeth gradually. These aligners are both transparent and removable.

For many, these extra costs are slight and well worth it. However, this option may not be suited for every misalignment or bite issue.

Lingual Braces Cost

Lingual braces are a different form of “invisible” braces.

They are essentially traditional braces attached to the back of teeth instead of the front. (The side of your teeth facing your tongue is called the lingual surface.) The result is much less obvious to the casual onlooker.

Lingual braces usually cost $5,000-13,000 total, and in some cases can be much higher. The price reflects both the advanced technology and technical skill required; there are fewer brands making them and fewer orthodontists offering them.

In addition, lingual braces are a bit harder to get used to than the other types. You may experience soreness or have difficulty talking and eating. You’re also probably looking at an extended treatment period.

Some people opt to get lingual braces on their upper teeth and traditional on their bottom teeth. It really just comes down to what you’re comfortable with and what is available in your area.

Breakdown of Associated Costs

As you see, the total costs of treatment vary widely.

Most of that has to do with aforementioned factors. But some of it also has to do with how individual orthdontists break down their fees.

A good understanding of the costs associated with braces will help you compare prices, anticipate charges down the road, and even negotiate (more on that later).

Some orthodontists charge $100-200 for the initial consultation. You might be able to avoid this by finding a less popular orthodontist.

Your orthodontist may charge separately for X-rays at a cost of $25-250. You might be able to get X-rays cheaper via your dentist or urgent care and bring them with you.

Whatever method you choose, you’ll likely require a removable retainer after initial treatment. Post-treatment retainers can cost $150-1000.

The only way to really be sure that you are paying a fair price for your perfect smile is to compare overall prices and fee breakdowns of different orthodontists in your area.

Aside from that, lowering the price of orthodontic treatment requires some work.

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