Braces tend to cost between $3,000 and $10,000 without insurance. There is a significant range in the cost of braces due to the type, length of treatment, age, and location. Braces can straighten teeth, align the jaw, and improve smiles and facial aesthetics. If you do not have insurance, braces can be costly, but there are multiple ways to reduce the cost and get braces for an affordable price.
How Much do Braces Cost Without Insurance?
Braces can be costly without insurance, costing up to $10,000 for treatment. The price can vary significantly due to type, length of treatment, age, and location.
Types of Braces
The type of braces you get will influence the cost the most. The four types of braces are metal, ceramic, Invisalign, and lingual. Metal braces are the more traditional option you usually think of when you hear “braces”.
Cost of Braces by Type
|Type of Braces||Average Cost of Treatment|
|Metal||$3,000 - $7,000|
|Ceramic||$4,000 - $8,000|
|Invisalign||$4,000 - $7,400|
|Lingual||$8,000 - $10,000|
Metal: Metal braces are considered the most traditional braces. They are the least expensive of the four types of braces. Usually, they have colored bands around the brackets, making them the most noticeable of the types of braces.
Ceramic: Ceramic braces are close in price to metal braces, but they are much more discrete. They are often called “clear braces” as they are situated with clear or tooth-colored brackets instead of colored bands.
Invisalign: Instead of using brackets or wire, Invisalign uses a clear plastic aligner to secure and move your teeth. The clear aligners are custom-designed from molds of your teeth and are updated quite frequently. As your teeth gradually move into position, new aligners need to be used.
Lingual: Lingual braces are completely invisible. The same material as traditional braces is used, but the braces are placed behind the teeth instead. They are the most expensive type of braces due to their customized design, extended treatment period, and complex application process.
Length of Treatment
The longer you need braces, the more you will pay. The duration of treatment is associated with the complexity of care required. There will be a significant difference in price for a minor smile imperfection versus a major jaw misalignment.
This is especially true for Invisalign, as you will need to change your aligner trays out every 1-2 weeks and see your dentist every 4-6 weeks for follow-up appointments. The length of time spent on your dental appliances, the number of aligner trays, and the number of follow-up appointments needed will affect the total cost of dental care.
Age and Location
Where you live could also affect the treatment price, as bigger cities usually have more expensive rates. Rural areas and small towns typically have lower rates, but the availability of appointments and dental professionals may be limited. A survey found that getting the same braces procedure done in Lincoln, Nebraska would cost $1,543 less than in Manhattan, New York.
What are the Additional Costs Associated with Braces?
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Health insurance will cover the cost of braces for medical reasons, such as improving jaw misalignment or difficulty chewing, but will unlikely cover the cost of braces for cosmetic reasons. Regardless, there are several ways to reduce the overall cost of braces.
Planning is one of the most effective ways to afford braces without insurance, especially for children. Orthodontists recommend a check-up by age seven, and treatment usually begins between nine and fourteen. At this appointment, the provider can usually identify if a child will need braces down the road, which can help you budget in advance.
Some dental offices offer payment plans. These allow you to pay off the total cost of treatment over time rather than all at once. Be sure to ask your dentist’s office if this is an option for you.
A health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA) may help reduce the cost of braces. Funds from an FSA or HSA can cover the costs associated with installing, maintaining, and removing braces as long as they are medically necessary.
These accounts allow you to set aside pre-tax dollars to pay for IRS-qualified medical expenses. Your FSA or HSA might even reimburse you for co-pays or office visits, depending on the office's rules.
If you qualify for Medicaid and have a medically necessary reason to get braces, Medicaid may cover the cost of treatment. Medicaid coverage varies from state to state, but children’s dental care is covered under Medicaid as a federal mandate, as long as it’s medically necessary. However, before receiving treatment, it is vital to know the percentage of coverage and lifetime maximum of your plan.
Orthodontists in Training
Another option for reducing the cost of braces is to check to see if a university near you has a dental or orthodontic school. Orthodontic students sometimes offer services at a reduced cost so long as experienced orthodontists supervise them. Students are required to do supervised treatments as part of their orthodontic education, so they usually have reduced fees or only require you to cover the cost of materials and equipment. The Commission on Dental Accreditation lists dental schools across the country, some offering this option.
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Cost of Braces Without Insurance Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Consider this additional information regarding the cost of braces without insurance.
Are there any other additional costs I should take into consideration?
Aside from the initial cleaning before getting your braces fitted, retainers, and x-rays, there can be a few additional costs of getting braces. These include co-pays for office visits, fillings before being fitted for braces, and other diagnostic tests to assess oral health. It is best to speak with your dentist or orthodontist to obtain a transparent idea of the total cost of your braces and the associated care before treatment.
What is the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist?
Both professionals work towards improving oral health. Orthodontics is a specialty within dentistry that focuses specifically on correcting bites, blockage, and the straightness of teeth. Dentistry is a much broader profession, focusing on teeth, gums, nerves, and the jaw. While a dentist generally has experience providing orthodontic care, they usually refer patients to an orthodontist to obtain braces.
How long will braces take to straighten my teeth?
There is no definitive answer to this question. For most, braces are necessary for six months to two years, depending on the state of your misalignment when your braces are put in. Your orthodontist should be able to give you an estimate after assessing your oral health and teeth.
On average, getting braces without insurance will cost between $3000 and $10000 and are done for cosmetic or medical reasons. The type of braces one gets, length of treatment, age, and location are all factors that contribute to the total cost. Braces are an investment in your health, physical appearance, and confidence. Understanding the factors that contribute to the cost of braces is essential to finding ways to save money and reduce expenses.
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Kendra Bean is from Maui, Hawaiʻi. She is currently enrolled at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, specializing in Epidemiology. She is passionate about improving health literacy and access to care, specifically in rural areas.