Braces are so common in the US that they’re practically a rite of passage for pre-teens and teenagers. They’re popular among adults as well. As excited as you might be at the idea of a new smile, though, it’s hard to get all the dollar signs out of your head.
Everyone assumes that braces will be expensive, so too many people never consider them as an option. You’re never able to know if you can afford them until you actually know how much they cost, though.
It’s time to stop making assumptions and start getting answers. How much do braces cost? Can you afford them? You’re about to find out.
How Much Do Braces Cost on Average?
Let’s start with a clean and simple number: $5,000 to $6,000. That’s the general range most people can expect, according to the American Dental Association.
That average comes with a huge number of asterisks though, because it isn’t that easy. As is the case with any medical procedure, each case is unique when it comes to braces. As a result, each person’s cost will vary.
At the end of the day, the only way to know for sure is to visit an orthodontist to get an estimate.
Factors That Affect the Cost of Your Braces
How do you know if you can expect your braces to cost more or less than the average? Should you plan for a four-digit or five-digit price tag? You can get an idea by considering these factors that will impact your ultimate cost.
Your Current Dental Alignment
Some people get braces to fix a small gap between two teeth. Others get braces because their teeth are facing different directions or clumped together in unusual arrangements. As you can imagine, those will have very different treatment needs.
Some misalignments are more difficult to fix than others. The more challenging your misalignment is, the more time, adjustments, materials, and dental visits you’ll need. You might need a specialized orthodontist who focuses on the type of adjustment you need.
All that will raise the cost of your braces.
The Results You Want
Your price doesn’t just depend on the type of changes you want to make. It’ll depend on the degree of those changes too.
If you want more dramatic results, you’re likely to pay more than someone who only wants smaller tweaks. This is why your orthodontist doesn’t just look at where you are now, they’ll ask you what you want the results to be.
Braces are especially common among adolescents, but there are many adults who use them for a straighter smile too. While the treatment courses are similar, there are often small differences.
As a result, adults’ braces typically cost more than kids’ braces. It isn’t a huge difference, usually only a few hundred dollars, but it makes an impact.
The Orthodontist You Choose
You’ve heard the saying, “you get what you pay for.” That’s often true in the world of orthodontics.
The more experience an orthodontist has and the more demand they have for their services, the more they’ll charge. Orthodontists with less experience need to charge less in order to compete.
It may also depend on the orthodontist’s office. If they have a larger staff or more advanced equipment, they’ll charge more too.
Keep in mind that even less experienced orthodontists should be well-qualified and able to handle your alignment with ease. All orthodontists need to be board-certified, which requires them to demonstrate their abilities.
In other words, if an orthodontist charges lower fees, it doesn’t mean they just wandered in off the street.
Some areas of the country (and even some areas of your city) have a higher cost of living than others. That will raise the cost of your braces.
Think of it this way: a higher cost of living will raise the cost of every part of your orthodontist’s practice. Their facility will cost more to operate, they have to pay their staff more, and so on. They need to charge you more to make up for it.
The Type of Braces You Choose
When it comes to braces, you have many options; check it out! There are traditional metal braces, clear plastic liners, ceramic braces, linear braces, and more.
Each option has its own features, and that will change the cost. For example, clear liners are far less noticeable than metal braces, so you’re likely to feel less self-conscious about them. However, they cost more than metal braces.
When you visit your orthodontist, they’ll explain all your options. It might depend on the type of improvements you need and the choices they have available. Regardless, you can discuss all the pros and cons in your case and ask about the cost comparison too.
Insurance is a key factor when it comes to your out-of-pocket cost for braces. Some dental insurance plans cover braces while others don’t.
It might depend on the circumstances too. For instance, some insurance plans only cover braces for certain types or degrees or misalignments.
Before you call an orthodontist, check the details of your dental plan. Find out if it covers braces and what its stipulations are. Make sure you understand the coverage differences between in-network and out-of-network orthodontists too.
Your Payment Options
In many cases, your out-of-pocket cost for braces will depend on the way you choose to pay. Most orthodontic offices have payment plans. However, they often give discounts if you pay the full amount upfront.
Your final cost could also depend on whether you have a flexible spending account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA). Your employer might offer these plans as employment benefits.
Those plans allow you to not pay income tax on the money you spend on braces, which lowers your cost in an indirect way. Make sure to find out the details of your plan first, though.
Budgeting for a Better Smile
It’s hard to put a price on a straighter, more confident smile, but that’s what happens when you ask, “How much do braces cost?” The insights above can give you an idea of what to expect and how to comparison shop between orthodontists.
For more tips on caring for your smile, check out more articles on our blog.