Fact Checked

The Cost of Clear Braces in 2022

Written by Fernanda Elizalde

August 25, 2022

Medically Reviewed

By Dr. James Younan, DDS

Wondering how much clear braces cost? If you're considering orthodontic treatment, it's important to know which options you have available. From invisible aligners to traditional braces, the cost of care can vary tremendously.

The dental fees associated with a clear aligner treatment will vary depending on several factors.

Fortunately, flexible monthly payment plans usually make it fairly convenient to afford comprehensive orthodontic treatment while still sticking to a monthly budget.

What are clear braces?

Clear braces can be any type of orthodontic treatment that uses a cosmetic or transparent material. Such as tooth-colored ceramic braces or clear aligners. Clear aligners are usually the most popular option.

Ceramic braces are fixed to your teeth, similar to conventional metal braces. Whereas clear aligners are a formfitting and removable alternative. Both options are effective at straightening teeth.

Adults are particularly fond of clear braces because they provide a discreet teeth straightening alternative over traditional metal braces. And if you have orthodontic insurance benefits, they will usually fall under your dental insurance plan's coverage.

How do Clear Aligner Systems Work?

Clear aligner braces us removable, transparent trays to move your teeth into the desired position. They're made by taking molds of your teeth and having digitally mapped aligners printed out in advance.

Each pair of clear aligners is shaped slightly different from the last, gently pushing specific teeth in a selected direction. They fit snugly, similar to a retainer or bleaching tray.

There are even night aligners that you only wear while you're asleep.

Most of these systems are called clear aligners, but some people prefer to them as clear braces, invisible aligners, or simply by their brand name.

An added bonus of wearing clear aligner systems is that you can remove them to floss, use an electric toothbrush, or eat certain foods that are off limit for conventional metal braces. Plus, they are practically invisible.

Are clear braces more expensive than traditional braces?

When they were first developed, invisible aligners were significantly more expensive than regular metal brackets and wires. Fortunately, that is no longer the case. And with a variety or clear braces on the market, the costs involved are more competitive than ever.

Keep in mind that the cost of braces is often related back to the treatment time and materials required. Some clear braces cost less than or the same amount as metal braces.

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How much do clear braces cost?

Your dentist or orthodontist will provide you with a custom treatment plan outlining all fees and out-of-pocket expenses related to your invisible braces.

These care plans can compare different types of orthodontic treatment (including how your dental insurance may cover them) so that you know exactly what price to expect to pay.

There are specific factors that influence how much it costs to straighten your teeth. Such as:

  • Your tooth alignment
  • How long it will take to straighten your teeth
  • The brand of braces or aligner treatment you choose

    Clear Braces: Costs, Types, Treatment Times & More

    The price range for metal braces, lingual braces, ceramic braces, and invisible aligners usually fluctuates somewhere between $59-$150 a month. Some treatments require a down payment, while others do not.

    Average Cost of Traditional Braces

    To give you a general idea of your investment to cover braces, traditional metal braces cost about $4,000 to $7,000 on average before dental insurance plans apply their benefits. If you have severely misaligned teeth, they will take longer to treat, and the process will cost more than shorter treatment plans.

    Average Cost of Clear Braces

    Pricing for clear braces is similar to the cost of metal braces, with prices starting as low as $1,200-$1,400 and going up to $8,000 or $10,000.

    By seeing a licensed orthodontist for your consultation or sending off for a free impression kit, you can compare and contrast the cost of different types of braces before settling on the best one for your needs.

    Treatment Time Required

    Some people are able to complete the teeth straightening process in as little as six months. Especially if it is only minor tooth movement in the upper front teeth for cosmetic purposes.

    The average treatment time for most braces patients is 12-18 months. However, more complex cases may require up to two years.

    Rest assured, your orthodontist will be able to provide you with a timeframe estimate before you commit to treatment.

    Adjunctive Services and Appliances

    Sometimes additional treatments need to be considered in addition to your invisible braces. Such as removing a tooth, treating active gum disease, or using an expander to create enough space in your mouth.

    Be sure to let your dentist know if there is any medical condition that requires frequent care or MRIs, which may alter your treatment plan.

    Choosing a clear braces brand

    There are several reputable clear braces brands on the market today. In regard to removable invisible braces, there are options to consider such as:

    Invisalign Clear Aligners

    Invisalign is the original clear braces system. They are digitally mapped out using 3D scans of your teeth or dental impressions. The average cost for Invisalign braces in 2022 is between $3,000-$8,000. The range can vary significantly, depending on the alignment needs of each individual, as pricing is dependent upon the number of aligners needed.

    ClearCorrect

    One of the top competitors of Invisalign clear aligners, ClearCorrect costs in the range of $2,500 to $5,000 depending on the length of your treatment (and how many aligners are required.) They're a reputable brand that are directly overseen by your dentist or orthodontist. Moderate cases of tooth misalignment, spacing issues, or crowding can be accurately addressed, with severe cases treated on a case-by-case basis.

    Candid Braces

    Candid clear braces are doctor-directed aligners that cost an average of $2,400 for most patients. Instead of mailing off an impression kit, you have your teeth scanned by a CandidPro doctor. Then the aligners are shipped to your door. Every two weeks you send a digital photo scan to your doctor to keep your treatment on track. They even provide you with a 3D preview of your proposed results before you order them.

    SmileDirectClub

    The average price for SmileDirectClub is just under $2,000. Minor tooth movement cases can be completed in as quickly as 4-6 months for patients who qualify. The payment plan requires a $250 down payment and then $89 a month (plus, you won't need a credit check.) The brand boasts that their orthodontic patients can see results in just 60 days. Plus, they provide 24/7 support.

    SureSmile

    SureSmile is another dentist-supervised aligner treatment. They're custom fitted and comfortable to wear. Like Invisalign and ClearCorrect, SureSmile averages around $4,000 for a typical case, but starts as low as $2,000 for minor tooth movement needs. Get started with a digital scan with an approved SureSmile provider and stop by for regular checkups to monitor your progress (and pick up new trays.)

    Byte

    Byte clear aligners come as an all-day system or an at-night only system. The nighttime version is slightly more expensive ($2,295) than the all-day version ($1,895.) The impression kit is also an extra charge, but the $95 fee is refunded if you qualify for Byte treatment. Byte brand is ranked extremely high when it comes to their customer service, too.

    AlignerCo

    AlignerCo boasts itself as one of the cheapest alternatives for people looking for invisible aligners. Choose between a one-time fee of $895 or pay $81 a month for 12 months. There's also a night aligners option that you only wear while you sleep.

    NewSmile

    These day or night aligners help you save money and eliminate office visits. Their "fast track" option only costs a little over $1,200 and you can even add an affordable whitening foam to your treatment to ue with it. The night aligners cot about $100 more.

    Lingual Braces

    These completely hidden braces cost an average of $4,000-8,000 but can be as high as $10,000, making them one of the most expensive braces options in the orthodontic industry. If orthodontic therapy is deemed medically necessary because of serious oral health issues like TMJ disorder or periodontal disease, but you're set on having invisible braces, lingual orthodontics may be your only option.

    Ceramic Braces

    Tooth-colored ceramic braces, like traditional braces, fluctuate between $3,000 and $7,000 for typical treatment needs. Adults may prefer a brand of ceramic braces if traditional braces are the only treatment they qualify for, but they still want an invisible braces option like invisible aligners.

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    How much are clear braces for top teeth only?

    A common question people ask before committing to orthodontic treatment is if they can only wear braces on their upper teeth. In the case of minor teeth misalignment, this may be an option. But with significantly crowded teeth, it usually is not.

    Even if you are not concerned about a severe malocclusion (misalignment of the teeth and jaws) you need to consider how your teeth bite against one another.

    When you straighten your teeth, their biting relationship against the lower teeth is also important. Otherwise, side effects like worn enamel, broken dental work, and TMJ disorder can develop.

    Treatment plans can vary significantly, so it's worth talking to your orthodontist if you're set on only treating your top teeth.

    Average cost of Braces: Age, Type, Insurance, Other Factors

    Applying your dental or orthodontic insurance benefits toward your metal brackets or Invisalign braces will reduce the total cost of care. But some insurance policies do have an age requirement or lifetime maximum, including if you wore braces previously.

    Keep in mind that a straighter smile is typically a healthier smile, so the investment in your bite alignment is just as much a health benefit as it is a cosmetic one.

    If you think you are too old to wear braces, it may help to note that systems like Invisalign clear aligners were developed specifically for adult patients.

    There are no age cut-offs for adult orthodontic treatment. You can even be a busy working professional, grandparent, or retiree!

    What is the difference between ceramic braces and metal braces?

    Ceramic braces are a type of orthodontic treatment option that uses fixed appliances. Ceramic braces are almost completely identical to metal braces except for one key component: they're made out of tooth-colored materials instead of metal.

    The ceramic or clear braces blend in with your tooth color because there are no colorful rubber bands, wire ligatures, or metal brackets involved.

    However, ceramic braces work exactly the same way as traditional metal braces to. They're just a lower profile to make them more discreet. Even though other people can see the ceramic braces from up close, they're far less noticeable during casual conversations.

    If you don't qualify for Invisalign braces because of your tooth alignment needs, ceramic braces make an excellent alternative worth considering.

    Ceramic Braces vs. Traditional Metal Braces

    Both traditional and ceramic braces use fixed brackets and special archwires to move your teeth. They can be placed on both upper and bottom teeth. The only difference is that the ceramic braces are less noticeable since the color blends in with your enamel.

    You will want to take time to clean around your appliances well, as clear braces can still accumulate buildup or discoloration from the foods you eat. Having clean braces will help them to be less noticeable when you're talking.

    There is not too much of a difference between the price of ceramic braces and metal braces. You may find that some ceramic braces brands do cost more than others, but that is not always the case.

    If your orthodontist has to put in a special order or one brand is the only option, you may be more constrained when it comes to pricing.

    Lingual Braces vs. Aligner Treatment

    If you absolutely want to avoid visible braces (even if they are tooth-colored) you have the option of choosing between clear aligners, which are removable, or lingual braces, which are bonded to the back of your teeth.

    Lingual braces work the same way as traditional braces, except they are attached to the other side of your tooth (lingual surface) instead of the outside, next to your lips and cheeks.

    Lingual braces are effective, but can be more difficult to clean and eat with. Whereas aligner treatment provides the flexibility of removing them for easy home care, meals, and straightening your teeth discreetly.

    Is it worth getting clear braces?

    Regardless of the cost of clear braces, there are numerous advantages of having straighter teeth. For example, teeth that are properly aligned (vs. crooked teeth or areas of crowding) are less likely to develop:

    • Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD/TMJD)
    • Irregular wear patterns
    • Periodontal (gum) disease
    • Cavities
    • Worn or fractured tooth enamel
    • Damaged dental work

      If you are currently being treated for any of these conditions or have high rates of recurring issues, investing in ceramic or clear braces can be extremely beneficial to your oral health. Issues like teeth misalignment are not solely cosmetic concerns, they also play a part in the overall health of your teeth and gums.

      Will My Dental Insurance Cover Braces Related Expenses?

      Most dental insurance plans have some type of orthodontic insurance built into their benefits package.

      However, there may be stipulations, such as age or whether the patient had braces previously. And there is usually a maximum allowable amount that they will pay for braces, regardless of the type of braces you choose to get.

      Before you begin treatment, your dentist or orthodontist will have their insurance coordinator verify your coverage. From there, they will give you an estimated breakdown of your benefits as it relates to your treatment plan.

      That way, you know how much braces will cost you. Most offices offer payment plans that are extremely affordable, with 0% or low-interest financing applied.

      Keep in mind that your dentist or orthodontist won't be able to give you a firm price estimate on your braces cost until they've examined your teeth in person.

      If you're using a mail-order braces system that doesn't require any office visits, you may not be able to apply for your insurance as you would when seeing an orthodontist.

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      Save Money While Straightening Teeth

      Aside from affordable teeth straightening treatments that fit your monthly budget or finding a brand that offers a free impression kit, straighter teeth can help save you money on dental fees well into the future. Particularly because of your lower risk of tooth decay, gum disease (periodontitis), and TMJ disorder.

      Although the out-of-pocket expenses related to orthodontic therapy may not seem worth it for cosmetic reasons, the health benefits alone are a smart investment in your oral health. With the average treatment time of +/- 12 months and flexible monthly payment plans, addressing issues like severe malocclusion will "pay off" for years to come.

      Summary

      Traditional metal braces are not priced much differently than clear aligners or ceramic braces. However, lingual braces do tend to cost more than most other types of orthodontic options.

      If you want to straighten your teeth, your financial investment will depend on the unique placement and alignment of your smile, the length of treatment required (which can vary by months or years,) and the brand of braces or aligner treatment you choose to wear.

      You can typically get an orthodontic evaluation during regular checkups or arrange a consultation with your local orthodontist (requiring in-office visits.)

      The other option is to use a mail-order system, although these are not endorsed by the American Dental Association.

      Many patients prefer using a payment plan through their orthodontist's office, as it allows them to afford cosmetic or regular braces, regardless of their personal budget.