According to the Pennsylvania Dental Association, approximately 4 million people in the U.S. wear braces at any time. Whether for children, teens, or adults, braces can be a worthwhile investment. They can help correct misaligned teeth, improve the overall health of your mouth, and boost confidence. But one question many people ask is: How much do braces cost?
With the variety of braces and many other factors that can affect how much braces cost, it is difficult to answer this question with an exact figure. But don’t worry - we're here to help! Read on to learn more about the average cost of braces in 2023 and the factors that will affect the final price.
Popular Types Of Braces
When you go into your orthodontist's office, they’ll likely recommend certain types of braces for you. Ultimately, you’ll make the final call, so don’t forget to consider the pros and cons of each option. Here are the most popular types of braces offered by orthodontists today:
These traditional braces cost the least and are the most common option. They consist of small metal brackets connected by an archwire, which applies gentle pressure to your teeth to correct misalignments. Over time, your teeth will gradually shift into the correct positions.
Made of a translucent material, ceramic braces are less visible than metal braces and offer an aesthetically pleasing option for adults and teens. The main downside is that they tend to be more fragile and cost more than traditional metal braces. Due to its fragility, you’ll have to visit the orthodontist more often to replace the brackets. The process can take slightly longer than metal braces in some instances.
Lingual braces are similar to traditional metal braces, but they are placed on the backside of your teeth instead of the front, making them virtually invisible. The main downside is that placement can make it difficult for your orthodontist to adjust them, so these tend to be more expensive and may mean additional visits or adjustments. Unlike ceramic braces, lingual braces will stay on your teeth as long as traditional metal braces.
The Invisalign® system consists of clear aligners that are custom-made for your mouth. They’re removable so that you can eat, drink, and brush your teeth with ease - but it’s recommended to wear them between 20 to 22 hours a day for best results. Although they are the most expensive option, they offer a comfortable and convenient treatment experience.
The difference between Invisalign and regular braces is that you'll have sets of aligners that you switch out every two weeks. These are created using 3D printing, so they are very precise and fit your teeth perfectly. People usually have between 18 and 30 sets of aligners, depending on the severity of their misalignment. Each set can move your teeth a bit more until they are in the correct place.
Breaking Down The Cost Of Popular Types Of Braces
The average price for braces will vary depending on the type of treatment and materials used. Traditional metal braces are still a popular choice for adults and teens, but they’re not the only option. Here is an overview of the average cost of adult braces of different kinds across America:
- Metal Braces - The most common form of orthodontic treatment, traditional metal braces typically cost between $3,000 and $7,000.
- Ceramic Braces - Ceramic braces cost between $4,000 and $8,000.
- Lingual Braces - Lingual braces can come at a higher cost than ceramic and metal braces at around $5,000 to $13,000.
- Invisalign® - This clear aligner system is the most expensive option at around $5,000 to $9,000.
Factors That Affect The Cost Of Braces
While the type of braces you choose will have the biggest influence on how much braces cost, there are other factors to consider as well.
Type Of Appliances And Materials Used
The type of appliances and materials used in your braces will affect the cost. For example, ceramic braces are more expensive than metal because they’re made of a more fragile material. Your orthodontist may also recommend additional tools or accessories to help with your treatment, such as retainers or special toothpaste.
Other more specific appliances include:
- Transpalatal Bar: A metal bar that creates space in the upper and lower arches. If not all teeth have erupted, it’s used as an initial tooth to help with this.
- Separators: Small rubber bands used to create space between teeth, allowing braces to fit properly.
- Lingual Arch: This is a custom-made metal arch that fits behind the teeth. It's most commonly used for keeping the molars from moving forward.
- Forsus Spring: A spring for braces to move the back teeth, used to correct an overbite by re-positioning the lower jaw.
- Biteplane: A tool that helps to correct a deep overbite, which is when the upper front teeth overlap the lower front teeth.
- Bitesplint: A device that helps protect the teeth for those who grind them or to improve jaw-muscle function and relieve pain.
As mentioned, lingual braces are a type of braces that are mounted to the back of your teeth. The cost of them can get expensive, as they require more materials and are more labor intensive. And not only are they almost invisible, but they also need special training to fit, so not all orthodontists can provide them.
Location Of Orthodontist
The cost of braces can vary depending on where you live. Braces in more expensive cities, such as New York or Los Angeles, tend to be more costly than those in smaller towns or rural areas. For example, the average cost of braces in New York City is $7,000 to $12,000, while the average cost in rural Tennessee is only $3,500 to $5,500.
Additionally, orthodontists in private practice may charge a higher rate than orthodontists at large corporate practices.
Insurance plans vary, but many offer partial coverage for braces. If you have insurance, you should check your plan to find out exactly what’s covered and how much you can expect to pay out of pocket.
The Complexity Of Your Case
Your independent orthodontic case will likely be the most significant determinant in the cost of your braces. If you have a more complex case, such as severe misalignment or an overbite, it will take longer to treat and require additional materials and tools. This can increase the overall cost of your treatment significantly.
Tips For Making Braces More Affordable
If the cost of braces is still too steep for your budget, there are some options available that may make them more affordable.
Join A Dental Savings Plan
Dental savings plans (or dental discount plans) are an inexpensive way to get discounts on dental care, including braces. They’re a more flexible option than full-on dental insurance, and you can think of them as a sort of membership plan.
These plans typically cost around $150 per year and offer discounts of up to 10% - 60% off on orthodontic treatments. It also gives you access to a network of dentists that provide discounted rates to those with dental savings plans.
Many orthodontists offer payment plans that allow you to spread out the cost of braces over several months or even years. This can make braces more affordable and help you manage the cost.
There are also payment plans available from third-party companies that allow you to pay for braces in installments. These plans usually involve an interest fee, so be sure to read the fine print and make sure it’s a good deal for you before signing up.
Pay With FSA Or HSA
If you have a flexible spending account (FSA) or a health savings account (HSA), you can use these funds to pay for braces. These accounts allow you to set aside money pre-tax and use it for medical expenses like braces. Looking to get one of these accounts? FSA and HSA accounts are offered by employers, so check with yours to see if you qualify.
What Is Included In The Price Of Braces?
When it comes to braces, the cost can vary depending on the type of treatment you’re getting and who is providing it. Generally speaking, when you get braces, you are paying for several different services and products:
- Orthodontic consultation
- X-rays or other imaging tests
- Brackets and wires
- Repair and adjustments to the braces
- Retainers or other products for after the treatment is complete
In addition, you may also need to pay for additional treatments such as teeth whitening (as you can’t get teeth whitening with braces), other cosmetic procedures, or dental cleanings. Keep in mind that these costs are not usually included in the initial price of braces.
Which Is Cheaper: Braces Or Invisalign?
When it comes to choosing between braces and Invisalign, both can be effective treatments for various orthodontic issues. But, the cost of each type of treatment varies.
Traditional metal braces tend to be cheaper than Invisalign in 2023. The average cost of traditional metal braces is around $3,000 - $7,000, while the average cost of Invisalign is $4,000 - $8,000. That being said, some people may qualify for certain discounts or payment plans that can help make Invisalign more affordable.
More and more insurance companies are covering the cost of Invisalign as well, but overall, you’ll probably still have more coverage for regular braces. The reason why traditional braces are cheaper is because Invisalign requires special molds to be made in a lab, which can add extra costs.
Does Dental Insurance Cover Braces?
Many dental insurance plans will cover part of the cost of braces. If you have dental insurance, be sure to check with your provider to see what type of coverage is offered for orthodontic treatments. Some plans may even require that you get pre-approval before receiving braces treatment.
Can You Get Braces For Free?
In some cases, you may be able to get braces for free. If you have a low income, your local public health department or social services office could help you find a dentist who offers free or discounted orthodontic treatments.
There are also several organizations that provide financial assistance for dental care. Be sure to do your research and contact the organization or offices directly to see if they offer any type of assistance with the cost of braces.
The Bottom Line
The cost of braces in 2023 can vary depending on the type of treatment, your individual situation, and who is providing it. While modern orthodontics presents a range of options, conventional metal braces are still the most cost-effective type of braces.
If metal braces are still something that doesn’t fit your financial situation, many dental insurance plans will cover part or all of the cost of braces, and there are a variety of other ways to make them more affordable. With so many options available, you should be able to find a solution that works for your budget!
For more insight into braces and the estimated costs associated with them, keep reading!
Can You Get Braces For Free With Medicaid?
State-sponsored insurance or federal programs like Medicaid will cover braces in certain scenarios, but this varies depending on your state and the severity of your needs. Typically, fully-covered braces are provided to those who meet specific criteria regarding the seriousness of their teeth misalignment and the age of the patient.
Especially if you have oral health issues that are considered medically necessary, you will probably be eligible. It’s best to check with your state Medicaid office for more information.
How Much Do Braces Cost Without Insurance?
Orthodontic care is expensive - it’s a complicated procedure that requires specialized appliances, technology, and expert care. The cost of braces without insurance ranges anywhere from $3,000 to $7,000 for the treatment, depending on your individual needs and the type of braces you choose. The average cost of adult braces will be more expensive than those for children, as adult teeth are less likely to move, and the jaw is fully formed.
What Is The Cheapest Type Of Braces?
The cheapest type of braces are traditional metal braces. They are typically the most affordable option but may require more frequent visits to make adjustments and repair broken brackets or wires. This tried-and-true method has stayed the cheapest option due to the fact that they require fewer materials and less technology.
Are Braces Worth It?
Yes! As mentioned earlier, braces can help correct misaligned teeth, improve the overall health of your mouth, and boost confidence. Many people find that the cost is worth it in terms of better oral health and to improve your smile.
In fact, more and more adults are getting braces to correct issues they have had since childhood or to even out their teeth as they age. Children and teens who receive braces may also benefit in the long term since their teeth will be better aligned and less prone to dental problems in the future.
Can You Pay Monthly For Braces?
Most orthodontists offer payment plans that allow you to pay off your braces over time. These plans usually have a down payment, which can differ depending on the total cost of treatment. After that, patients can typically make monthly payments of a hundred to a few hundred dollars until the balance is paid in full.
How Do You Clean Your Teeth With Braces?
Maintaining clean teeth with braces can be tricky. To effectively remove plaque and food particles, you will need to brush all of the surfaces - both above and below the brackets, as well as in between them. It can help to brush your teeth with braces using an interdental brush and an electric toothbrush.
Flossing is also essential; it’s best to use a floss threader or special flossers designed for braces. And lastly, using a fluoride mouthwash can help to keep your teeth and gums healthy during the course of your treatment.
Do Braces Change Your Face?
The short answer? It depends. In some cases, braces can change the shape of your face and jawline. This is because they help to align teeth, which could alter how your lips sit on top of them. Braces can also help correct an overbite or underbite, which in turn can affect the appearance of your face as well.
If you have questions about how braces might potentially change your face, it’s best to speak with an orthodontist for a personalized assessment.