Braces help align teeth and improve its aesthetics. It’s typically used as a corrective measure for teeth issues such as crowding, irregular spacing, issues with alignment, crookedness, protrusions, etc. With the advancement in technology, the duration one needs to wear braces has shortened and the types of braces available to us – as well as their related cost – has expanded. The stigma attached to orthodontic appliances like braces have considerably dissipated as well, partly because of societal changes and partly because of the advent of aesthetically pleasing orthodontic appliances such as clear aligners – the most popular ones being Invisalign.
Throughout the long-lasting Braces vs Invisalign debate, one question always rises to the top above all others – how do they compare in terms of cost? Well today we’re going to take an in-depth look at it. Let’s dive in!
Cost of Regular Braces Compared to the Cost of Invisalign
There are a number of orthodontic treatments, but the two most popular and effective treatments are the traditional metal dental braces with wires and brackets and the Invisalign clear aligners that are the aesthetic alternative. Dental braces are usually utilized in serious cases and help adjust the placement of teeth. Braces are made up of brackets and archwires, which sit across the teeth and are held in place using elastic ties. The brackets were primarily made of metal, but now ceramic and hybrid brackets are available as well. The size of brackets have reduced considerably as well, making it possible to be fitted from the back of the teeth and hidden from view. The duration of treatment using dental braces can vary from anywhere between 8-10 months and 2 years or more.
On the other hand, while Invisalign can be used to treat teeth crowding and irregular spacing of teeth, it’s typically used to treat bite irregularities such as overbite and crossbite. It’s also used to treat mild relapses after dental braces treatment. Clear aligners like Invisalign have become popular because they are more aesthetically pleasing than dental braces. Plus, these computer manufactured plastic teeth aligners are removable, though frequently removal can be counter productive. It needs to be removed while eating, drinking, brushing, etc.
Cost of Dental Braces
The type of dental brace, largely, determines the cost of orthodontic treatment. And the type of dental brace you should opt for is determined by three main factors.
- How severe is the orthodontic issue?
- How long will the treatment take?
- Aesthetic consideration
Type of Dental Braces
The cost of dental braces falls between $3,000 and $10,000. It constitutes by far the largest chunk of the total cost of an orthodontic treatment.
The variation of cost depends on the type of dental brace you opt for. We will discuss clear aligners separately, later in this article.
- Metal: Metal dental braces are the most common type and also the low cost option. Also, the alignment of teeth happens faster in these. The drawback obviously is the fact that these are clearly visible. Mental braces cost $3,000 to $6,000.
- Ceramic: The brackets in ceramic braces are colored to match the teeth as much as possible. This reduces visibility. On the other hand, these are brittle and require more maintenance and care. Without regular, proper cleaning, ceramic braces also tend to get stained. Ceramic braces cost $4,000 to $8,000.
- Lingual: Lingual braces are the ones where the bracket can be fitted behind the teeth and hidden from view. This makes the installation and adjustment process tougher and increases the price significantly. Lingual braces cost $8,000 to $10,000.
While the type of dental brace has the biggest impact on the cost, there are other factors that come into play as well.
Your dental insurance plan is the first of these factors. What type of dental insurance plan do you have and is orthodontic care included in it? Dental insurance companies have a fee schedule for each of the dental procedures or dental services covered under its plans. The fee schedule indicates the average price of the procedure or service, which the insurance company will pay the dentist or dental clinic, in case of a claim by a consumer. So, you need to first check if orthodontic treatments are covered by your dental insurance plan and if it is, then you need to find out the total amount of coverage for orthodontic treatment. Most dental insurance companies refer to the various procedures and services via their American Dental Association (ADA) code. So, you can simply check if the code corresponding to the orthodontic appliances or orthodontic treatment is present in the fee schedule or not. Since most dental insurance plans have an annual benefit limit, you need to keep that in mind as well. Even if orthodontic treatment is covered by your insurance plan, if the amount falls outside the annual benefits limit, you will have to pay the balance from your pocket.
Orthodontist and Location
The next two additional factors that have an impact on the cost of an orthodontic treatment are the orthodontist you consult and your location or rather the location of the orthodontist. While most orthodontists provide free consultation at the beginning, you will have to visit the orthodontist every 3 to 10 weeks for adjustment appointments during the length of the treatment, i.e., the duration you have to wear the dental braces. These adjustment appointments will have consultation fees attached. The location is important because taxation laws and state laws have a say on the pricing. So, depending on which state you’re in, the cost might vary.
Before you start wearing dental braces, certain restorative treatments may be required to make it possible for you wear one. This will also add onto the cost. However, this is generally for severe cases.
Cost of Invisalign Clear Aligners
Clear aligners are essentially plastic molds that can be worn over the teeth. Invisalign is one of the most popular brands of clear aligners. Invisalign clear aligners cost between $3,000 and $8,000. The primary benefits are that it looks much better, because there are no brackets or wires, it can be removed once in a while and even replaced if required and it’s far more comfortable than dental braces. However, these benefits come at a price. Firstly, it takes much longer for proper alignment to happen in comparison to dental braces. Secondly, for severe cases these simply can’t be used.
While selecting the right orthodontic treatment or aligner, you should take into consideration both the cosmetic/aesthetic aspect and the effectiveness of the selected option. With regards to cost, if your dental insurance doesn’t cover it, you can check out third-party financing companies such as Capital One.