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The Average Cost of Braces - 2017

While the average cost for braces is $5,000 to $6,000, some individuals pay as little as $3,000 or as much as $10,000. This is because orthodontic treatment is highly personalized based on both the orthodontist and the patient. Your expenses will depend on your age, insurance plan and the type of braces you wear. Here we take a look at how these factors influence the final cost of getting braces.

The Cost of Braces in the United States

The total cost of treatment chiefly depends on the specific type of braces you select, as well as the length of time you wear them. Your options will be limited by the types of braces your orthodontist has experience in, as well as your particular alignment problems. Most orthodontists offer free consultations, so you should visit as many different places as you need to find an appropriate price and plan.

TypeEstimated Base Cost
Metal $3,000-$6,000
Ceramic $4,000-$8,000
Lingual $8,000-$10,000
Invisalign $3,000-$8,000

Metal braces are the oldest and most common type of orthodontic treatment. Universally available, they offer relatively low cost treatment and fast alignment of teeth. Their only drawback is the high visibility of the metal brackets and wires that constitute the system. Ceramic braces attempt to remedy this by employing brackets that are colored to blend with teeth; however, ceramic brackets are more brittle than metal and also tend to stain noticeably without proper care.

Lingual braces are installed behind the teeth, thereby hiding the braces altogether, but these are even costlier because of how hard they are to install and adjust. Invisalign eliminates brackets altogether in favor of clear plastic molds that fit over the teeth. Patients wear each mold for a set time and swap to the next, slightly straighter mold as the teeth align over time. Invisalign can also be removed and replaced by the patient, making it the most comfortable option. The disadvantage here lies in the relative slowness of alignment compared to wires and brackets. Furthermore, wearing Invisalign may not be possible in cases of severe misalignment. 

Should you be fortunate enough to have a full range of choices, you must find a balance between cosmetic value and speedy treatment. The cheaper the method, the more visible your braces will be; however, cheaper braces tend to align teeth more quickly than subtler and more expensive counterparts. With monthly appointments representing a significant part of the final bill, the cost of lower visibility can grow fairly steep. The longer you end up wearing braces, the more you will pay.

Costs Based on How Long You Wear Braces

Most braces are worn for an average of 24 months. The length of time you wear braces depends not only on the kind you choose, but also upon how far your teeth must move and how well you support your treatment with good habits. While there isn’t much you can do about the position of your teeth before braces, the progress you make during the process depends on your active participation.

Age1 Year2 Years3 Years4 Years
Adult $2,546 $5,091 $7,637 $10,183
Child $2,457 $4,914 $7,372 $9,829

Many patients who pay more than average for braces do so because of preventable issues like broken brackets and slow alignment. Avoiding foods that shatter or stick to your braces is important to ensure that you don’t need to pay for extra appointments. You should also do your best to keep your teeth clean in general.

Finally, some treatments like Invisalign can be taken off entirely, although they must be worn for as long as 22 hours each day for proper alignment to occur. It’s up to you to keep track of how often you take off such braces. 

How Age and Location Affect the Cost of Braces

The average cost of adult treatment is consistently higher than the average for children, regardless of location. However, in most cases the difference in cost is slight, hovering at 3.6%. In dollar terms, adults can expect to pay $156 to $211 more for braces than children who receive similar treatments.

A graph showing the average cost of braces for adults and children.

As with almost any consumer product or service, orthodontic costs rise along with population density and the cost of living. The larger your urban area, the more you can expect to pay for the same procedure. Getting braces in Lincoln, Nebraska may cost $4,554 for a single adult, but the same procedure would cost $6,097 in Manhattan. If you live in a major city, you might consider visiting orthodontists in smaller towns located nearby for potential savings.

You might also consider looking for nearby dental schools, where orthodontic students offer their services under close supervision from their instructors at reduced rates.

Dental Insurance Can Help Pay for Braces

Because braces are often considered a cosmetic procedure, it’s somewhat difficult to find insurance plans that will cover orthodontic treatments, especially types designed to be less visible. Plans that do cover orthodontics will help reduce the final cost, but your choices will likely be limited to the most economical types.

TypeCost With InsuranceCost Out of Pocket
Metal $3,407 $4,937
Ceramic $4,572 $2,570
Lingual N/A $9,000
Invisalign N/A $5,000

One example of a plan with provision for orthodontics is the DeltaCare® USA Individual/Family Dental Program, available in multiple areas. With an annual premium of $123 in New York City, you would pay $2,300 for children and $2,500 for adult braces. These costs cover initial consultation, installation and 24 months of comprehensive orthodontic treatment, with any additional visits costing up to $125 per month. Insurance plans that cover braces often require patients to select their orthodontist from a list of affiliated professionals.

Sometimes, the misalignment of a patient’s teeth is severe enough to cause health issues, such as jaw pain, grinding of teeth, greater likelihood of tooth decay or gum disease. In such cases, a dentist’s assessment could determine that braces qualify for coverage as a medically necessary procedure, even if your dental plan does not include orthodontics.

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