Why Do Braces Cost So Much? Here are Ways to Save | Smilelove

Why Do Braces Cost So Much? Here are Ways to Save | Smilelove

January 08, 2019

Does your teen have crooked or crowded teeth? Or maybe an overbite, underbite, or crossbite? If so, you’re probably wondering how much metal braces cost. Or are you the one with crooked teeth and want to know how much braces for adults cost?

How Much for Braces? How Much are Braces for Adults?

The cost of braces varies depending on what kinds of braces you get, whether you have insurance or not, how much your insurance covers, and how many times you need to visit the orthodontist. There are additional costs, like retainers and x-rays, and there are preparatory costs.

Preparing for Your Braces

Before you get braces, talk with your dentist about your plans. You may have some prep work to do:

  • You may need a thorough cleaning, which could include scaling and root planing, if you’ve had periodontal disease or receding gums. Scaling involves scraping plaque and other debris, often from below the gum line, followed by smoothing the roots.
  • You may need some fillings.
  • You may need teeth pulled to make room to straighten the teeth properly.

Woman with Smilelove invisible aligners


Check Your Insurance Coverage

Dental insurance often has a limit of $1,000 to $1,500 per year. Unless there is a separate limit for orthodontic coverage, fillings, extractions, and cleaning can cut into that, so you may want to do the prep work at the end of one year and start the braces at the beginning of the next.


Another thing to check is whether your insurance has a lifetime maximum orthodontics benefit, and/or an age limit. Many plans cover braces for children but not braces for adults. Costs would be greater if orthodontic treatment is not finished by the time a child reaches the age limit. Delta Dental, for example, pays in monthly installments beginning when braces are placed on the teeth. Payments end when treatment ends or is discontinued, or when the child reaches the age limit, even if the treatment is still going on.

Average Cost of Braces

CostHelper asked readers what they spent for braces. Readers reported the following cost spread for four categories of braces:


  • Metal braces: $1,500-$10,000 plus, depending on how severe the problem.
    • Typical costs for people without insurance were $3,000-7,350, with an average of $4,937.
    • Typical costs for people with insurance were $1,500-8,500, with an average of $3,407.
  • Ceramic braces: $2,000-8,500, are not as noticeable as metal braces, but the ceramic can break.
    • Typical costs for people without insurance were $1,500-7,800, with an average of $4,572.
    • Typical costs for people with insurance were $1,550-5,080, with an average of $2,570.
    • Costs in this category include costs for plastic brackets, and braces that don’t use rubber bands, such as Damon braces.
  • Lingual braces: $5,000-13,000, go on the lingual side of the teeth, the side facing the tongue, so they may hamper speech or hurt the tongue. Not many orthodontists install them.
  • Invisalign: $80-300/tray, uses a series of clear plastic trays that fit over the teeth, with new trays about every two weeks. Total costs are $3,500-8,000, averaging $5,600. Insurance often won’t cover them, considering them cosmetic. They’re not effective for serious bite problems.

How Can I Save on Teeth Straightening?

You may be wondering why do braces cost so much, even with insurance? One factor in the cost of braces is regular visits to the orthodontist to adjust them. There are several things you can do to bring down the costs.

  • Dental discount plans can save a lot and are often less expensive than dental insurance.
  • Dental schools may charge half what a dentist does, and may also offer a substantial discount for using their faculty dentists.
  • Going overseas can save a lot on the cost of braces, but the cost of flights for follow-up visits could wipe out the savings. You may find an orthodontist willing to work on braces someone else installed, but it will cost more.
  • Shop around. Look for an orthodontist in a less affluent part of town.
  • Negotiate with your dentist using information from a source like Healthcare Blue Book.
  • Get quotes from a few orthodontists, see if they can beat each other’s prices.
  • Pay cash and ask for a discount.
  • Wear your retainer, lest your teeth return to their old position.
  • Get braces early, as a teen, while your mouth is malleable. The younger you get braces, the fewer years you’ll have to wear your retainer. Getting braces as an adult and you may have to wear a retainer for the rest of your life.
  • Use a Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA) to pay with pre-tax dollars. If you don’t have an FSA or HSA, talk with your employer to see if one is available.

SmileLove, a Clear Alternative for Straighter Teeth

As you’re considering the options for straightening your teeth, consider SmileLove clear aligners. We have a single price, determined by which payment option you choose, so check the price of Smilelove invisible braces today. For greatest savings, you can pay up front. For even greater savings, try our 25% off holiday discount!