How much do braces cost?
$3,000 – $7,000 (Traditional braces, without insurance)
Average cost of braces
Braces cost $3,000 to $7,000 for traditional metal braces, while Invisalign aligners cost $5,000 to $7,000. Braces cost $1,500 to $5,000 on average with insurance coverage. Most braces prices include an initial consultation and diagnostic tests with a dentist or orthodontist to determine the best treatment method.
|Type of braces
|$3,000 – $7,000
|$5,500 – $7,000
|$6,000 – $8,000+
|$5,000 – $7,000
|Direct-to-consumer clear aligners
|$1,000 – $6,000
Traditional braces cost $3,000 to $7,000, depending on how crooked or misaligned the teeth are. Orthodontists attach small metal brackets to the front of each tooth using a dental adhesive. Then they thread a thin, flexible archwire through each bracket and secure it with elastic bands, which come in customizable colors.
Every 4 to 6 weeks, the orthodontist tightens the archwire or replaces it with a thicker one to increase pressure on the teeth. This pressure causes the surrounding bone tissue to “remodel” or break down on one side of the tooth and rebuild on the other, allowing the tooth roots to move through the bone.
Orthodontists most commonly recommend braces starting at age 12 once the permanent teeth have all erupted because the bone tissue is softer, and the bone remodeling process is faster and safer.
Adult braces usually take longer because the bone remodeling process is slower in adults with solid bone. If the roots are pushed too quickly, they resorb or shorten, which leads to serious dental issues like tooth sensitivity, loose teeth, or even tooth loss.
Ceramic “invisible” braces cost $5,500 to $7,000, on average. Ceramic braces use tooth-colored brackets and thin metal wires to gradually move the teeth into alignment. Just like traditional metal braces, ceramic braces can treat everything from simple crowding issues in the front teeth to complex bite issues.
Ceramic braces take about 18 to 24 months and are a bit bulkier than metal braces. Ceramic braces can also stain more easily, so avoid coffee, tea, tomato sauce, and mustard to help prevent discoloration.
Lingual braces cost $6,000 to $8,000+ on average, depending on the issues you need treated. More difficult cases cost $10,000 or more. Lingual braces are just like traditional metal braces, but the brackets are attached to the inside (tongue side) of the teeth, making them invisible when you smile and talk.
Like traditional braces, the orthodontist replaces the archwires every 4 to 6 weeks. However, lingual braces are more difficult and require a more experienced orthodontist, which adds to the cost.
Invisalign costs $3,000 to $7,000 on average, depending on the case complexity. This popular clear aligner system fixes mild to moderate orthodontic issues. A series of invisible plastic trays gently move the teeth over 6 to 12 months for simple cases, or longer for more complex cases.
Direct-to-consumer clear aligners
Online direct-to-consumer aligners are cheaper versions of Invisalign that only treat minor orthodontic issues and do not require dental supervision. Instead, you take your own impressions, and the company creates a set of trays to move your teeth. This DIY process sometimes leads to poor-quality impressions and mediocre treatment results.
|Smile Direct Club
|$2,000 – $6,000
|$2,000 – $2,400
|$850 – $1,150
Benefits of braces
Braces have a number of benefits beyond cosmetics. There are functional and health-related benefits to having properly aligned teeth, including:
Improved chewing and better digestion
Better speech clarity
Easier brushing and flossing
Less jaw or TMJ pain
Better gum health
Reduced risk of bone loss from periodontal disease
Better overall health, with new research linking oral health to conditions like heart disease and diabetes
Braces cost factors
Several factors affect the cost of braces, including:
Case difficulty – Simple crowding or spacing issues cost less to treat than more complex alignment or bite issues, which take longer.
General dentist vs. orthodontist – Orthodontists offer a variety of services and have more experience straightening teeth, which may lead to better results. General dentists may offer clear aligner treatments but rarely offer payment plans like an orthodontist will.
Geographic location – Braces are usually more expensive in urban areas that have a higher cost of living.
Patient age – Adult braces may be slightly more expensive because there are greater risks involved in moving teeth through solid bone, slowing down the treatment. However, adults are usually better at keeping up with their oral health, which may prevent treatment delays common in younger patients.
Patient compliance – Keeping traditional braces clean is more challenging and poor oral hygiene can lead to treatment delays and increased costs. In cases of extreme neglect, treatment can cease with the doctor removing the appliances until the patient is willing to keep up with their home care.
Dental insurance – Most dental insurance plans cover some portion of braces costs. The coverage will vary depending on your plan.
Financing – Most orthodontists offer monthly payment plans for braces, with the total cost divided into equal monthly payments over the course of treatment. Most do not charge interest.
Some orthodontists offer discounts if you use cash instead of a credit card.
Most offices extend a 10% discount for treating additional family members.
Extra fees for missed payments and appointments are standard.
Retainers – After your teeth are in position, you will need a retainer to hold the teeth in place. Permanently attached and removable retainers cost $150 to $500 in addition to the cost of braces.
Palatal expanders – Some patients require a palatal expander to widen the palate and make more room for the teeth. Expanders cost $1,000 to $3,000 in addition to the cost of braces.
Orthognathic surgery – Orthodontic jaw surgery costs $20,000 to $40,000 before insurance and corrects a severely misaligned jaw before orthodontic work.
Braces cost with insurance
The average cost for braces is $3,000 to $7,000 without insurance or $1,500 to $5,000 when insurance covers some of the costs. Coverage varies with every plan, but you can expect the insurance to pay up to 50% of treatment costs once in a lifetime. Age restrictions and other limitations may apply.
How to save on braces
Braces can be expensive, especially for patients with complex crowding or bite issues that require longer and more comprehensive treatments. Here are some money-saving tips:
Ask about dental payment plans and discounts.
Search for dental clinics and community health clinics that may offer reduced-cost services.
Research non-profits like Smiles Change Lives and Smile for a Lifetime that help qualifying children get free or low-cost braces.
Join a dental savings plan.
Pay with a flexible spending account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA) for tax savings.
Is Invisalign cheaper than braces?
In simple orthodontic cases requiring just 5 to 10 sets of trays, Invisalign can be cheaper than traditional braces. For moderate cases, traditional braces may be cheaper. For complex bite issues or misalignments, traditional braces may be the only treatment option that works.
Does Medicaid cover braces?
Medicaid does not cover braces for purely cosmetic reasons. However, in some states, Medicaid does cover braces for certain dental conditions, such as an overbite, underbite, or crossbite that have detrimental impacts if not treated.
Does insurance cover braces?
Yes, most dental insurance plans cover braces. Most plans pay up to 50% of treatment costs, often with a lifetime maximum benefit of $1,500 to $3,000. However, there may be age or other limitations, so check with your insurance provider to confirm your coverage.
How long do braces take?
Traditional braces typically take 12 to 18 months for moderate cases and up to 36 months for complex cases. Clear aligners take 6 to 12 months for simple cases and up to 18 months for more moderate cases.
What can’t you eat with braces?
Traditional braces require a lot of care to keep clean. Your orthodontist will give you a list of foods to avoid while you are wearing braces, but the most common are popcorn and hard candy, which can damage the brackets, and sticky foods like caramel and gum that are difficult to remove.
Find out more about getting braces
Reach out to a dentist or orthodontist near you to discuss what tooth straightening methods can work for you. Here are some suggestions to follow as you research different ortho options:
Read reviews – Check out dental websites and online reviews from different practices to get a sense of their reputation and patient satisfaction.
Schedule consultations – Schedule consultations with several potential dentists or orthodontists to discuss treatment options and get a feel for their practice.
List your priorities – Make a list of your top concerns. Deciding whether price, treatment length, or aesthetics is most important to you can help you narrow down your options.
Ask questions – Be sure to ask about the treatment process, costs, or expectations so that you understand what you’re getting into before you commit.
Get a second opinion – If you are unsure about your treatment options or provider, a second opinion can help you feel more confident about your decision.
Consider budget and financing – Braces can be expensive, but most orthodontists offer monthly financing to spread the costs out over the months of active treatment. General dentists that offer ortho services typically do not offer monthly payment plans.
Consider your lifestyle – Bracket-on-wire braces require less compliance, but a longer time commitment. Clear aligners are faster but require more compliance wearing the trays at least 20 hours every day.
Take your time – Don’t rush into a decision. Spend time researching the available options and talking to your dentist or orthodontist about the best treatment for you.
Questions to ask your orthodontist
Crooked teeth can impact your smile, self-confidence, and your overall health. Ask these important questions to choose a dentist you can trust to straighten your smile.
What types of braces do you offer?
Am I a candidate for clear aligners? If not, what are my other options?
How long have you been in practice?
Have you had good success with invisible braces?
What results can I expect from my braces? Can you correct my crowding and bite issues?
Will I need to have any extractions to make room?
What are the pros and cons of each type of braces?
What time commitment is required for traditional braces?
What maintenance is required for traditional versus Invisalign braces?
How often will I need to see you for adjustment appointments?