Comparing the cost of different types of braces.
There are a number of different orthodontic systems that can be used to treat a person's case. And deciding among them can be a difficult task. But frequently the decision must simply come down to the treatment's overall price.
This page can give you an idea of the comparative costs of the most frequently used types of orthodontic treatment. It includes pricing information for:
- Invisalign® / ClearCorrect® / Invisalign Express®
- Lingual braces (Incognito®, iBraces®, In-Ovation® L, Harmony®)
- Conventional metal braces. (Silver colored, brackets and wires.)
- Ceramic braces / Gold braces / Fashion brackets
- Orthodontic retainers (Permanent and removable.)
This page also provides information about dental insurance coverage for braces.
a) Fees for Invisalign®.
The fee that a dentist charges for a case that they treat using the Invisalign® system will probably be about the same as what they charge for traditional braces. In some cases, it might be more. It's unlikely that it would be less.
A comparison of Invisalign® and traditional braces.
Invisalign® dental braces -
Information found on the Invisalign® website (April 2012) states that the cost for treatment is typically $3,500 and up, with an average cost being in the neighborhood of $5,000.
- $3500.00 to $8000.00
Low fee = Small rural city or town.
High fee = Large metropolitan area.
If you're unfamiliar with the Invisalign® system, we describe it, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of using it, on this page.
FYI - How much does your dentist pay for an Invisalign® case?
We noticed a document on an Align Technology, Inc. website that suggested that the typical price a dentist pays, per patient case, is on the order of $1,550 (2010).
How much does ClearCorrect® cost?
At least a part of the marketing strategy of ClearCorrect, Inc. (the makers of an Invisalign® equivalent) seems to be keeping the pricing of their system low. That suggests that dentists who use this system should be able to charge less.
b) Fees for Invisalign Express®.
In a nutshell, Invisalign Express® is essentially a scaled down version of the standard Invisalign® system. It provides a way for a dentist to minimize their costs so they can, in turn, treat less complex orthodontic cases at a lower price.
By definition, each Invisalign Express® case only involves the use of ten or fewer sets of aligners (standard cases typically involve twenty to thirty sets) and it's only intended for treating simple cases.
Invisalign Express® dental braces -
- $2500.00 to $4500.00
This page provides more information about the Express® system and how it differs from standard Invisalign®.
FYI - How much does your dentist pay for an Invisalign Express® case?
According to information we noticed on one of Align Technology, Inc.'s websites, a dentist's cost for the Invisalign Express® system is roughly $900 per case (2010), a little more than half the cost of standard Invisalign®.
Similar products - Simpli 5®.
AOA Orthodontic Laboratory, Inc. manufactures three clear plastic, removable tooth aligner systems that can be used to treat cases similar to those treated with Invisalign Express®. They are the Simpli 5®, Red White & Blue®, and RW II® systems.
These products cost the treating dentist less than Invisalign Express®, so in those cases where they can be used, the patient's costs might be reduced. For more information, use this link:Simpli 5® / Red White & Blue® / RW II®
Other types of braces.
The Invisalign® system doesn't always make the best treatment choice. After an evaluation, your dentist may determine that one of the following methods offers benefits that using removable/invisible aligners cannot.
c) Fees for conventional metal braces.
We're using the term "conventional braces" to refer to the treatment method where:
- Metal brackets are bonded onto the front or cheek side of the patient's teeth.
- The brackets and wires used are silver in color.
- The wire is held in place using elastic ("rubber") bands.
Conventional dental braces -
- $3500.00 to $7000.00
Wearing conventional braces doesn't have to be as drab and boring as you might think. Here's are some ways they can be dressed up.
d) Fees for Lingual braces (Incognito®, iBraces®, In-Ovation® L, Harmony®).
- Lingual braces are similar to conventional ones in the sense that they're made up of brackets and wires.
- They differ by the way they are placed on the backside of the teeth, where they aren't as visible.
Lingual dental braces -
- $6000.00 to $13000.00
Why do lingual braces cost more than conventional dental braces?
Lingual braces usually cost about twice as much as conventional ones in part due to the cost of materials and lab services involved. (Ling 2005) [page references]
- The brackets and wires that are used with conventional braces are mass-produced, stock items.
- In comparison, with modern lingual systems the hardware used is custom made for each individual patient by a dental laboratory using sophisticated computer aided cad/cam technology and robotic wire-bending technique.
A cost-cutting alternative for Lingual braces patients.
When the option is offered by their dentist, some patients choose to have lingual braces placed only on their upper teeth (the teeth that show the most) and then conventional ones on the front side of their lowers (the teeth that are more difficult for people to see).
For more information about lingual braces and their advantages and disadvantages, visit this page.
e) Fees for Ceramic braces (Clear braces).
This treatment option refers to conventional braces, where the dentist places clear or tooth-colored ceramic orthodontic brackets instead of metal ones. Only the brackets are different, a metal wire is still used.
Ceramic dental braces -
- $3500.00 to $8000.00
Why do ceramic braces cost more than metal ones?
The ceramic braces are typically more expensive for two main reasons:
- One involves the cost of the brackets. They may cost several times more than their stainless steel equivalents. However, with some brands the price difference is quite small.
- Beyond the cost of materials, using ceramic brackets often involves a longer treatment time or increased treatment difficulties (such as the inconvenience of replacing broken brackets).
As a cost-cutting measure, some patients decide to have ceramic brackets just placed on those teeth that show the most. This may mean only their upper teeth, or even possibly just their center six.
Those teeth that don't receive tooth-colored brackets get metal ones. And while the idea of this mismatch may be a concern for some initially, once it's demonstrated to them how comparatively little the teeth with the metal brackets show during normal function, they are usually fine with it.
Ask if "coated" arch wires will be used.
White-colored "frosted" or "coated" arch wires can help ceramic braces blend in even better. If this option is chosen, you can expect that your expenses will be somewhat greater.
For more information about ceramic braces, and pictures of what they look like, visit this page
f) Gold braces / Fashion brackets.
Rather than using silver-colored brackets, gold or uniquely shaped "fashion" brackets (hearts, stars, flowers, etc...) can be placed.
Conventional dental braces using gold or fashion brackets -
- $4000.00 to $7500.00
As a cost-cutting measure, fashion brackets are usually only placed on a patient's center four or six upper front teeth. Gold brackets may just be placed on selected teeth too, like the upper and lower front ones. After all, why dress up teeth that are hard to see?
You'll have to ask exactly how much added expense is involved. And it may not be as much as you expect. Specialty brackets can cost several times as much as their standard counterparts but this isn't always the case ("generic" equivalents do exist).
Unlike when choosing ceramic braces, metal specialty brackets shouldn't significantly affect or complicate your treatment process.
Will gold arch wires be used with your gold braces?
In the case where gold brackets are placed, ask if gold-colored arch wires will be used too. If so, you can expect that that "extra" will add to your overall treatment expenses too.
Dental insurance coverage for orthodontic treatment.
Dental insurance policies vary greatly, so it's impossible for us to provide any type of definitive answer regarding coverage for braces. However, the following information frequently applies.
How insurance policies often read.
- Many policies state that they'll pay 50% of the cost of orthodontic treatment per covered individual.
- There's frequently a maximum limit (which is often on the order of $1500 to $3000).
- There may be an age-limit restriction that applies (as in coverage is provided for children but not adults).
- The "maximum limit" is typically a lifetime one, meaning that once benefits have been exhausted there are no further benefits available for re-treatment later in life.
Are non-conventional treatment methods covered?
In regard to non-traditional braces (i.e. Invisalign®, lingual braces) and treatment variations (i.e. ceramic braces, gold braces, fashion brackets):
- If an insurance policy does provide coverage for "orthodontic treatment," there is typically no limitation about which specific technique is utilized.
(So yes, benefits usually apply.)
Menu for topic Dental Braces -
- Removable aligners (Invisalign®)
- Lingual systems (Incognito®).
- Ceramic (clear) dental braces.
- Conventional (metal) braces.
- Orthodontic retainers.