If you have misaligned teeth, then you’re probably willing to pay just about any price to straighten your smile and protect your oral health. Of course, many people are unable to pay any price for the necessary treatment, particularly if they are one of the 76.5 million Americans without dental insurance.
But exactly how much do adult braces cost both with and without insurance? If you’re planning on finding a way to get orthodontic treatments or wear braces, you’re going to need to know the answer to these questions and more.
To help you with that, we’ve created this comprehensive guide to everything you need to know about the cost of braces. We hope it enables you to get started on your road to a brand new smile.
WHY MIGHT YOU NEED BRACES?
There are a variety of different orthodontic issues that may require braces. Some of them will be familiar to you, while others you may not have heard of before.
Seeing your dentist or orthodontist is the best way to determine whether you have one of these issues, but before you do that, look at this list of the most common conditions that can be resolved with braces.
Malocclusion is an orthodontic issue in which your upper and lower jaw are not in proper alignment. This causes an uneven bite which can result in your tongue, lips, or the inside of your mouth being bitten when chewing.
This condition is often hereditary but can also occur during childhood development as a result of habits such as thumb sucking.
While malocclusion is the most common issue that orthodontists treat, it’s often mild enough that it does not require treatment at all. However, there are instances in which the misalignment can cause a number of different issues with your oral health that can be treated only by getting braces.
Sometimes tooth removal or a jaw expander is a necessary part of treatment for malocclusion, depending on the circumstances of the situation and its severity.
An overbite is a type of malocclusion in which the top row of teeth hangs over the bottom row significantly when the mouth is closed. This condition can sometimes be referred to as “buck teeth.”
If an overbite is severe enough, it can result in a variety of different oral health problems, such as tooth decay, breathing issues, difficulty chewing, speech issues, and TMJ.
There are a number of different factors that can result in the development of an overbite in children. Those factors include thumb sucking or pacifier use beyond the age of three, bruxism or teeth grinding, excessive nail-biting, and more. However, sometimes the issue is a genetic one that can’t be prevented by avoiding these habits.
An underbite is a type of malocclusion in which the bottom row of teeth overlaps the top row significantly when the mouth is closed. The most common type of underbite is caused by a misaligned jaw, but there are forms of the condition which are caused by different factors including injury and childhood habits such as thumb sucking.
Not all underbites are visible to others, but even when they’re subtle they can still cause a variety of different oral health issues, including wearing down of the teeth, damage to the teeth, difficulty chewing, difficulty with speech, bad breath (halitosis), mouth breathing, TMJ, and sleep apnea.
Diastema is the orthodontic term for a gap in the teeth. While this is commonly seen in the upper front teeth, it can actually occur anywhere in the mouth. While it’s often not harmful, a diastema can result in an increased risk of gum disease regardless of where the gap occurs.
This gap is often a natural part of the development of a child’s teeth. An estimated 50% of all children between the ages of 6 and 8 have a gap in their teeth that closes once the upper canines have formed.
However, when the diastema remains beyond that age and into adulthood, people may choose to close the gap by getting braces. This will not only avoid the increased risk of gum disease but also be more cosmetically pleasing for many people.
Teeth crowding is another common reason why you may require braces in order to avoid oral health complications. This issue can occur for several reasons, including disproportionately large teeth relative to jaw size, improper erupting of permanent teeth, early loss of adult teeth, and issues with wisdom teeth.
When teeth crowding occurs, it invites a number of problems that might only be treated with the help of braces. Those issues include difficulty chewing, increased risk of tooth decay, bad breath (halitosis), speech problems, crooked teeth, frequent biting of the soft tissue in the mouth, and more.
Crowded teeth can often be difficult to clean properly, which can result in many of the aforementioned issues. When you can’t access certain areas of your mouth, you can’t brush or floss properly, which means that food debris and eventually plaque and tartar will build up and result in tooth decay, bad breath, and possibly gum disease.
You may not have a significant malocclusion or diastema, and your teeth may not be so crowded that you can’t properly clean them, but that doesn’t mean that getting braces can’t help you at all.
Crooked teeth don’t necessarily present any threats to your oral health, but they can be damaging to your self-confidence. That is a significant issue all on its own.
Getting braces primarily for cosmetic reasons is quite common, and it can be a life-changing decision. Straightening your smile can give you the boost of confidence that you need to excel at whatever it is you’re striving for in life.
THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF BRACES
You may be familiar with braces only in their conventional style, but there are actually a few different types of braces. The four most common among them are listed below, along with some useful details about the differences between them and the specific orthodontic issues that they may be able to treat.
Traditional braces, also referred to as metal braces, are the most well-known and the most common type of braces. They are fixed to your mouth using metal wires and brackets that slowly move your teeth into a straighter, healthier position over time.
Conventional braces are not only the most affordable option, they’re the most effective at handling just about any type of misalignment issue there is.
While you may not be comfortable with the look of this orthodontic treatment, or with the feel of them at times, they’re only temporary, and they can provide you with the beautiful smile you’ve always wanted.
We mentioned in the last section that the aesthetics of traditional braces can be off-putting to some regardless of how desperately they want to fix their alignment issues. This concern is pervasive enough that ceramic braces were invented in an effort to remedy it.
Ceramic braces, also known as clear braces, work in very much the same way that traditional braces do, only they’re made with a ceramic material that’s designed to look more like your natural teeth.
This less-conspicuous material can ward off some of the unwanted attention that metal brackets can draw. The wiring of ceramic braces can also use a clear material that’s less noticeable than the metal kind, lowering visibility even further.
While ceramic braces are just as effective and expedient as traditional braces, they’re also more costly. This means that if you’re looking to lower the visibility of your orthodontic appliances, you’re going to have to pay for it.
Perhaps the least conspicuous of all orthodontic appliances are lingual braces. These braces work in a similar fashion to both traditional metal braces and clear braces, but they’re fixed to the back of the teeth rather than the front. This lowers the visibility to just about zero, but it does come with a few different caveats.
One drawback of lingual braces is that they can be more uncomfortable than traditional or clear braces. As you might imagine, having your wiring and brackets fixed to the inside of your teeth can result in more damage to the soft tissue in your mouth. For some, it’s totally worth it, for others, it’s a non-starter.
Another drawback of this style of braces is that they can’t fix all of the different alignment issues that conventional braces can. This means that even if you’re willing to deal with the added discomfort, lingual braces may not even be a viable orthodontic treatment for you.
You’ve more than likely heard of Invisalign before. They take the term “clear braces” to another level by being quite literally clear and almost invisible to others. The added level of discretion that these orthodontic appliances offer has made them a highly desirable orthodontic treatment.
There are some drawbacks to Invisalign, however. Perhaps the most significant one is dental health care costs. Invisalign tends to be more expensive than traditional braces, which can mean they’re simply not a viable option for some. However, standard dental insurance plans or supplemental orthodontic insurance may be able to help.
The other drawback to invisible aligners is that they are not effective at treating every type of issue as others are, so depending on what you’re looking to fix you may have to opt for another type of orthodontic treatment.
HOW MUCH DO BRACES COST?
Now that you’ve brushed up on all of the reasons why you might need braces, as well as each type of braces, it’s time to answer the question you really came here for: how much do braces cost?
As much as you may want to see that beautiful healthy smile, your budget may place some restrictions on exactly how you may be able to achieve it. Unfortunately, there’s no scenario in which the cost of braces is going to be what most consider low, even with dental or orthodontic insurance.
However, some options are still cheaper than others, which means you’ve got a chance to save money depending on the type of treatment you choose.
Keep in mind that these are all rough estimates and there are a few different factors that can cause them to vary. We’ll cover those factors in a later section.
Traditional or Clear Braces
The average cost of traditional metal braces without dental insurance is somewhere between $3,000 and $7,500, and the average cost with dental insurance is somewhere between $1,750 and $4,000.
The total cost of ceramic braces without dental insurance is somewhere between $3,000 and $8,000 on average, and the cost with dental insurance is somewhere between $2,000 and $4,500.
The average cost of lingual braces without dental insurance is somewhere between $5,000 and $12,500, and the average cost with dental insurance is somewhere between $3,500 and $9,000.
The total cost of invisible aligners without dental insurance is somewhere between $3,000 and $9,000 on average, and the average cost with dental insurance is somewhere between $1,500 and $4,000.
DOES MY INSURANCE PROVIDER COVER BRACES?
For some, this is the million-dollar question. Or at least the couple thousand dollar question. While the answer is obviously going to depend heavily on the particular dental or orthodontic insurance plan you have, there are certain factors that should hold true regardless.
One thing to consider is the fact that health insurance, in general, is not likely to cover any procedure done strictly for cosmetic purposes. If you’re not facing any significant oral health concerns due to your orthodontic issues, you may not qualify for insurance coverage on your braces.
Children’s braces can certainly be covered provided there’s a medical need for them, which is something a quick trip to your orthodontist’s office for an initial consultation can help you determine.
However, even if there is in fact, a medical need, the comprehensive orthodontic treatment may be higher than the annual cap placed on your insurance plan. If this is the case, you may want to consider using a health reimbursement account or flexible spending account to make up the difference.
Ultimately, your best bet for finding the answer to this question and determining the cost of braces for you or your child is to take a look at your orthodontic insurance policy or even speak with your insurance provider.
FACTORS THAT CAN AFFECT THE COST OF BRACES
The answer to the question “how much do braces cost?” is going to depend heavily on the following factors:
This is one of the biggest factors in determining how much you’ll pay for your braces treatment. If you live in an area with a high cost of living, then the cost of braces is likely to reflect that.
HOW LONG YOUR TREATMENT LASTS
It only makes sense that the more appliances or trays you use, the pricier your treatment is going to be, which is why the longer you’ve got your braces, the more it’s going to cost you.
THE TYPE OF BRACES
We’ve already detailed how each type of braces has its own price range. Traditional metal braces are the cheapest, while lingual braces are the most expensive.
WAYS TO MAKE BRACES MORE AFFORDABLE
Fortunately, there are a few different avenues you can take to save money on your braces, or at least give you some time to earn the money you need while still receiving your treatment. Those options are detailed below.
You don’t need to come up with one lump sum on the day that you receive your braces. Pretty much everyone works out some kind of payment plan with their orthodontist or with a third-party lender so they can slowly pay off their orthodontic treatment. It’s absolutely possible to figure out a monthly payment that works for you.
DENTAL SAVINGS PLANS
There are programs out there that seek to aid those in need of dental treatment at an affordable price.
Dental savings plans can help you save upwards of 50% on your dental fees in some instances. Savings on the cost of braces may vary, but it’s something that’s definitely worth looking into if you’re in need of low-cost orthodontic treatment.
If your child has a medical need for braces and they qualify for Medicaid, chances are that they will be covered for their orthodontic treatment.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much do braces cost a month?
Your braces treatment might cost anywhere from $1,200 to $13,000 in total, and as little as $80 to $650 each month, depending on where you reside, how long the treatment lasts, and the style of braces you need.
Why are braces so expensive?
Because of the working hours of an orthodontist. This includes everything from identifying the condition to developing an appropriate treatment plan to carrying out the treatment plan. Orthodontics is a time-consuming and expensive profession.
How long do braces typically last?
Orthodontic treatment typically takes around 24 months to finish. Some people require less than 12 months, while others require treatment for up to 3 years before their teeth reach the correct position. Orthodontics is not a one-size-fits-all treatment, as each patient's mouth is different. Some people have even worn braces for up to five years.
How much does it cost for braces in Mexico?
Braces in Mexico range in price from $500 to $4,500, depending on the type of braces needed.
What is the most effective alternative to braces?
Invisalign® is the most popular adult alternative to traditional metal braces. The treatment consists of transparent plastic trays that fit over your teeth and are replaced every ew weeks with new ones.
AFFORDABLE ORAL CARE WITH SNOW
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