Many people choose Invisalign treatment over conventional braces. The main reason is because it’s more discreet. As the cost of “invisible” braces continue to become more competitive, this trend is likely to accelerate.
Aligner trays will probably never completely replace traditional braces.
But as long as the cost of invisalign remains comparable to the cost of traditional braces, this treatment method will continue to become more popular.
After reading this Invisalign cost guide, you’ll have a good understanding of how much you should expect to pay and a good idea of how to save money on Invisalign treatment.
Let’s start with the hard costs first.
How Much Does Invisalign Cost?
Invisalign, or “invisible braces”, usually costs $3500-$8500 total.
Invisalign is really a name brand of clear orthodontic aligners. They also go by the names invisible braces, clear braces, clear retainers, aligner trays, and similar.
The Invisalign brand was the first. That’s why their name is synonymous with the product itself—similar to how the name of the brand Kleenex is often used as a substitute for tissue paper.
You can only get Invisalign brand aligner trays through a certified dentist or orthodontist. There are other premium brands such as Damon Clear that you can only get from a professional as well. The price range is similar.
Invisalign provides a cost calculator that might help you get a good estimate of how much you should expect to pay for the full treatment.
Just like conventional braces, the cost of treatment depends on a variety of factors. These include things like the severity of alignment issues, time of treatment, location, and experience level of the orthodontist.
Understanding potential associated costs will help you sort through your options later.
Associated Costs of Invisalign
You probably already understand that you’re paying for (a) the aligner trays themselves and (b) the labor costs of your orthodontist.
However, these costs can break down in different ways. Sorting out and comparing these fees is one of the ways you can save money on your invisible braces—as we’ll go into more depth about later.
More popular orthodontists may ask $100-200 for the initial consultation.
X-rays may be required and your orthodontist may charge $25-250. It may be a good idea to get dental X-Rays elsewhere and bring them with you (or at least suggest it).
You’ll also likely to need continuing treatment via nighttime retainer for some months or years after initial treatment. Aftercare costs may exceed $1,000.
If your alignment issues are less severe, you can likely save money through a less involved program (with less associated costs).
Invisalign Express Cost
Invisalign Express is a treatment specifically designed for those with minor crowding and spacing issues. Treatment is predictably faster and more affordable.
Invisalign Express can cost $1,500-4,500 with the average somewhere around $2,500.
Less expensive still: at-home clear aligner trays.
Smile Direct Club
Before we go anywhere further, we must address something.
We vehemently recommend against the use of DIY realignment methods such as “gap bands”. You can do serious damage to yourself. However, we think what Smile Direct Club is doing a great thing.
This relatively new company allows you to treat some misalignment issues from the convenience of your own home, at a great price.
You start with a $95 fee for the making and examination of impressions. You can do it in an affiliated location in your city or with their at-home kit. Once you send it in, they enlist the help of a local dental professional to see if you are a good fit.
If they determine that Smile Direct Club isn’t right for you, they will refund your initial fee.
If you are a good candidate, they provide a couple different payment options. In the end, Smile Direct Club will cost you about $2,500 total.
You can start with your impression kit here. Remember, it’s risk free.
There aren’t many ways to reduce the cost on these specialized programs (in fact, you won’t find any). But you can find a few ways to reduce standard orthodontic retainer treatment if you try hard enough.
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This requires a bit of creativity.
Braces are considered a luxury good. Invisible braces even more so.
Therefore, there isn’t much support set up for those looking to buy them. Still, it is possible that you may be able to find private or governmental programs that can help.
You might have thought:
Will Medicare or Medicaid help me pay for invisible braces?
Medicare will absolutely not help pay for Invisalign treatment, as it is predominantly for those at least 65 years of age and will only cover rare, emergency-related dental costs.
There is, however, a small chance that Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in your state will help. This is more likely in states with strong economic growth as such programs are the first to be cut in lean times.
If you’re looking for Invisalign through Medicaid, it probably needs to be for a child and/or an emergency. You will likely also need to prove that you can get invisible braces for the same price as conventional.
For the vast majority of people, this is probably a losing proposition. But if you are determined, you can find more information about what your state may cover by getting in contact with the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services.
Your local orthodontist may also have some good advice for you.
Dental Insurance and Invisalign
In recent years, more dental insurance plans are covering dental alignment therapy.
This usually includes Invisalign. A little research should turn up plans that will help you save money. The yearly cap on traditional plans is $1,000-1,500 but many dental insurance plans that cover braces have a limit of $3,500 or more.
Premiums are higher than traditional plans and you’ll likely still have to foot a chunk of the bill. But it may help. Be sure to work out the math for yourself.
From here, the options get a little more creative.
Dental Discount Memberships
Dental discount programs connect patients who need help affording dental work with dental professionals who need help finding clients.
This results in a win-win for everyone.
Unlike dental insurance, these programs have no limits. Instead of paying for a portion of your bill, these dental discount plans provide you with unlimited dental care at a discount of 10-60%.
For this reason, a discount plan that covers orthodontic procedures is probably the most reliable way for most people to reduce the cost of Invisalign treatment
It doesn’t matter how long or expensive your treatment gets. As long as you remain a member, you have access to reduced prices for all return appointments and repair work. You can find plans that offer such discounts on just about any dental procedure.
Invisalign Treatment Outside the U.S.
Believe it or not, you can often find premium orthodontic aligner treatment for much less overseas.
In this case though, the cumulative cost might not save you much money.
According to MEDIGO, you can purchase Invisalign treatment starting in the $1,000s from several different countries. But this doesn’t include associated travelling costs.
This quotes also only include the initial fitting and trays. Typical treatment requires months or years and 10 to 20 different aligner trays. If you travelled outside the country for all of these appoints, the costs could get very expensive.
We recommend against taking this kind of dental work overseas unless you are an experienced “medical tourist” who has done both the research and the math for yourself.
After this, all you’re left with is hands-on local research and negotiation skills.
Other Ways to Reduce the Cost of Invisible Braces
These tactics often get overlooked, but there is still value in old-fashioned methods.
Some simple ways to save money on Invisalign treatment include:
- Learn your local market. Consider local orthodontists your greatest resource. Questioning them directly is the best way to figure out what you should expect to pay in your area. Be sure to research orthodontists as far as an hour or two away, as the distance may make a significant price difference.
- Pay in cash. Most dental professionals will give you a significant discount if you pay in cash. This helps them avoid fees to credit card companies. It also means they get their money fast. Paying cash does them a favor. Just make sure they know that you know this.
- Negotiate price and terms. You’re worth a few thousand dollars to all of the orthodontists you speak to; encourage them to compete. You may be able to get them to throw out consultation or X-rays fees out by letting them know what you found from other orthodontists in the area.
- Use your Invisalign as directed. Invisalign works best if it is used everyday, 20-22 hours per day. If you don’t it will prolong treatment (increasing total costs) and reduce the treatment’s effectiveness. You should also follow any special instructions from your provider.
- Hunt for inexperience. All Invisalign providers must be certified by the company and received a rank that goes from “Preferred Provider”, to “Premiere”, to “Elite”, to “Top 1%” to “VIP”. This is a direct reflection of how many treatments they’ve administered. Always expect higher level providers to charge more.
- Check out some clinical trials. Go to ClinicalTrials.gov and you will find a database of all sorts of clinical trials. You may be able to participate in one of these and receive complimentary treatment. Or better yet, you might qualify to act as a subject for some futuristic new treatment.
Now you have a great understanding of the best ways to get a good price on Invisalign treatment.
But one important question still remains:
In Invisalign a Good Investment?
Remember, the primary benefit of all braces is a cosmetic one.
For many in the modern world, this is a perfectly good use of a couple thousand dollars.
However, there are some things about Invisalign in particular that you should consider.
First, Invisalign brand aligners cannot treat some of the more complex bite issues. There is also a higher tendency for teeth to move back towards their original location than with conventional braces. Treatment may also take longer.
In essence, you are paying slightly more for a less effective treatment solely because it is less conspicuous. For many, that is a great tradeoff. Both this study and this study highlight the social value of non-visible dental aligners. Just set expectations accordingly.
They are also removable, making them slightly more convenient.
We would also like to note that Damon Clear aligners seem to compare favorably to Invisalign. They are not removable. Yet they boast several benefits over Invisalign, including being able to treat more severe cases of misalignment.
They also have a provider locator for anyone interested in speaking to a Damon Clear provider in your area.
Whatever brand you choose, talking to real professionals is the way to go. Remember, it’s all about the research.
The only real way to ensure high quality dental care for a good price is to do your due diligence.
We’ve laid out the groundwork for you here. Now it’s up to you to go out and explore your options. With any luck, you’ll find the invisible alignment treatment you’re looking for at a price you can afford.