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How much do braces cost? – How much are braces for you and your children

Updated on November 8, 2010

Comprehensive orthodontic treatment can average between $4000 -$7000 for a common set of braces. For many people this is a lot of money to spend on your own or your children’s teeth. This article will show you what is behind this cost and other types of orthodontic treatment to consider.

How Is the Cost of Treatment Calculated?

The final amount that you will pay for your braces will depend on a number of factors including your age, the type of braces that you are after, the complexity of the treatment and where you are being treated. What will make the treatment significantly more expensive will generally be a very complex case that will take longer to resolve. Chances are that the work you want done may actually be cheaper than the average cost.

Depending on your Orthodontist, you may be paying an all inclusive fee which covers the cost of all of your consultations, equipment and other miscellaneous costs including x-rays etc all into one price. If you tend to move around then it may be worth looking for an orthodontist who is able to unbundle their fees so that you can pay for the treatment only for example and then purchase your retainers elsewhere if you plan to move to another city or perhaps abroad.

What Does The Whole Treatment Process Involve?

Below are the detailed steps involved in a typical orthodontic treatment. Irrespective of which type of braces you choose to wear you will need to go through the following steps in order.

Initial Consultation

When you first meet with the Orthodontist they will take a brief look at what needs to be done to get your teeth the way you want them. This is quite similar to a common dentist visit though there is no actual dental work that is being done. At this stage your dentist should already be able to give you an estimate as to what the treatment will actually cost and also what are your treatment options. Most general questions can be clarified at this stage including the length of time that you are expected to need braces and also if there is a need for any special equipment for your treatment. Many practices will also offer some form of payment plan to ease the burden of paying a single lump sum and also discounts for multiple persons such as both your children so this is a great time to ask for a discount.

Patient Profile Records and Charts

From the initial consultation your Orthodontist will order a series of tests to be conducted before they decide on the final course of treatment. This stage will ensure exactly what needs to be done and also any adjustments that need to be made in terms of equipment and procedures. Usually this will begin with a series of photographs of your face from portrait and profile angles followed by a comprehensive x-ray of your teeth. After these are completed a mould of your teeth will be taken so now the practice will have a complete picture of your mouth and are able to test the entire treatment plan before you have any work done. 

This part of the treatment is commonly charged separately as you are still able to decide against the treatment or even go elsewhere after this has been done. Your Orthodontist may call you in or talk with you over the phone regarding the results of the tests and their final recommendations for treatment. You may be required to have teeth taken out before you can begin and if this is the case then your doctor will refer you to your dentist and also send them the appropriate records. If you are comfortable with the final price and also treatment plan then you can move forward to the next step of having your braces put in.

Putting In your Braces

Having your braces put on is a step by step process and there is some pain associated with it though it is nothing that is unmanageable and considering the thousands of children that wear them the discomfort is nothing that you won’t be able to handle. 

Making Room

Your braces will be anchored by your back teeth and there will be a metal collar that fits like a ring around the 2 upper and two lower rear teeth in your mouth. To make room all around these teeth the Orthodontist will first wedge a small rubber band between your rear teeth like a piece of floss. This gets left in for a day or so to push your teeth apart just enough to fit the ring around. At first the bands will feel like you have a piece of food stuck inside them and the longer they are there the more sensitive your teeth will become so try to eat before or soon after they are put in before your mouth becomes too sensitive.

Getting the Braces

Once you return the following day with a little extra space the Orthodontist is able to put the braces on. First off your teeth will be cleaned thoroughly and then they will put on the braces starting from the anchoring ring on the back four teeth followed by the braces on the rest of your teeth. While this is being done your teeth need to be dry and your tongue out of the way so they will use a device to keep your tongue in the middle of your mouth while holding it open. The braces are affixed using special glue and one they are all in place then the glue will be set with a type of blue light. Once set you can take a short rest before the wire is fitted.

You now have the braces on your teeth and it is ready for the wire. A softer wire is commonly used to begin the treatment as it will take some time getting used to at first. The wire is slotted horizontally into the channels in each brace and then anchored to the ring on your molars. The wire is kept in place by the small rubber bands on each brace and these also help to create the necessary tension to move your teeth. Again it is recommended to eat before this happens and your teeth will become very sensitive shortly after so you won’t be able to chew any solid food or have anything that is too hot or cold for several days.

Ongoing Treatment and Adjustments.

Once you have worn your braces for some time you will find that the wire starts to protrude from the back. When this happens you will be called in for another appointment to have your braces adjusted. The Orthodontist will tighten your braces in one of several ways; they can simply change the rubber bands and cut the protruding wire or they can also change to a stiffer wire. In either case you will feel more tension on your teeth and they will again be sensitive but for a shorter period of time. 

These adjustments typically occur every month or so during the length of the treatment. The Orthodontist is able to adjust the tension on the teeth individually if they feel that one is moving to slow or too fast compared to the rest. Depending on your treatment they may also add additional bands linking your upper and lower teeth to make further adjustments to your bite if necessary. Though your appointments are scheduled for you will also need to come in if one of your braces has broken off or need adjusting.

Finishing your Treatment and Getting Retainers.

When you have reached the end of your treatment period it is time for your braces to come off. It is normal for some discoloration to appear between where the braces were applied and the rest of your teeth. You may want to look at laser teeth whitening or some of the best at home teeth whitening products to restore an even color and finish off your new smile.

As soon as the braces have been removed your teeth will naturally want to move again. To stop this from happening and undoing the good work of your treatment, another mould of your teeth will be taken so that you can be fitted for a retainer. In the time that it takes for the retainer to be made you will find that your teeth have already moved slightly. At first you will need to wear your retainer all day and night except during meals and then gradually only nights and gradually perhaps one or two nights a week.

Because your newly straightened teeth are not in their natural position they will always want to move. This is particularly the case in the first few months after the braces have come off, so if you are lazy with wearing your retainer then you will likely need to get braces again in the future. Your treatment cost may also include a follow up several years after the treatment just to make sure no problems have emerged.

Alternatives to Metal Braces

If you are worried about the appearance of conventional metal braces and are looking for something more aesthetically pleasing then the following three options can be considered. Invisalign, Clear and Lingual Braces. These invisible braces cost and effectiveness will differ so you may or may not be a suitable candidate to wear some of them.

How Much Do Invisalign Braces Cost
How Much Do Invisalign Braces Cost

Invisalign - How much do Invisalign braces cost

Invisalign is a teeth straightening system that uses a series of clear trays instead of braces to straighten your teeth. Invisalign is similar to wearing a set of clear retainers which start off shaped like your teeth now and gradually become straighter as you change from set to set. The cost for an Invisalign treatment averages around $5000 this may or may not be cheaper then metal braces depending on a few factors.

As you are wearing a tray that covers all of your teeth it is difficult to make adjustment to individual teeth like you can with braces. Because of this Invisalign is not suitable in many cases particularly if your teeth are very crowded and need to be separated first. Because the system works by using many moulds of your teeth it often works out to be more expensive because it involves more labor and more expensive equipment. Most notably it takes much longer to complete your treatment as the teeth sometimes do not move as anticipated and more tray may be required and is generally more painful. 

Invisalign is popular with people who are high profile and don’t want their appearance to be altered significantly. It is important to note that despite its expense this treatment may not fix your teeth entirely and if you are not satisfied with the results then often the only way is to wear braces the finish the treatment off. Your dentist or orthodontist will be able to best advise you if the Invisalign treatment is a good fit for you. You should also compare the pricing between several practices as prices can differ significantly.

Lingual Braces

Lingual Braces are braces that are fitted behind the teeth instead of in front. In terms of cost, Lingual Braces cost an average $2000 more than standard metal braces and it is not out of the ordinary for the price of these to be more than $10,000. This price reflects the amount of work that goes into applying them. Many of the procedures are similar to the ones highlighted above although the inside surface of the teeth is more uneven, difficult to access and provides much less space to work with then the front of your teeth.

Again people choose lingual braces because they are practically invisible although many people take a much longer time adjusting to them because they affect your speech more so than any other type of dental treatment. If you are only concerned about the appearance of your teeth then there are other forms of cosmetic dentistry services available though some including teeth whitening products may not improve your teeth’s functioning at all.

How much do braces cost
How much do braces cost

Clear Braces

Another option is Clear Braces. These are Identical in function to metal braces except that the top row is clear. The top teeth are the ones that you expose when you smile and the bottom teeth require a stronger material than the clear braces to withstand the bite force that you exert when you are eating. Clear Braces are only slightly more expensive than metal braces and equally effective. So you will be correcting your teeth in the shortest possible time after which you need only wear your retainer to bed. This is a popular option as it does not require and special treatments or equipment from the Orthodontist and you come away with something more discreet. 

Your Insurance and How to get Cheaper Braces

A typical insurance policy should cover some of the cost of getting braces for your children under the age of 18. Although there is some cover, it is not uncommon for the excess that you need to pay to be in the thousands. You should consult with your insurer as to what exactly is covered by your policy. In addition they may have a recommended Orthodontist where you could receive a discount because they work closely with the insurer.

If your insurance does not cover the cost of getting braces then another alternative that you can try is your nearest dental college.Although the level of service will differ, so will the price. You will save a considerable amount of money here as you are not paying for a lot of overheads as you would with an inner city practice. The treatment sessions may take slightly longer per visit as there may be pauses for explanations to observing students though the end results are practically identical bar the price. There will of course be a fully qualified supervising orthodontist should anything unusual happen.

Regardless of the type of dental treatment that you chose you should view the cost as an investment. Having straight teeth provides you with numerous benefits throughout your lifetime, including better access to clean your teeth, improved bite function. These two alone will save you costly dental fees down the line and you also benefit from an increase in self confidence. 

Now you know what is behind all of the cost of getting braces you are better equipped to compare the pricing between different Orthodontists. In addition to your local dentist, look for a range of recommendations on the Internet as the pricing can be much cheaper in the areas surrounding where you live. Because you only get braces once consider all your options both health wise and financially. Your smile will be a worthwhile investment. 


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    • profile image

      Tyla 10 months ago

      How much is the general cost for Braces? If you need them on top and bottom.

    • profile image

      Shali 5 years ago

      I want invisible tooth clips, such that nobody can notice that I am wearing.

    • profile image

      lorena 6 years ago

      i dont have insurance or medical care and i wanted to know how much are braces gonna cost me.

    • Knowledge Ninja profile image

      Knowledge Ninja 7 years ago

      Generally it will be cheaper (not counting on inflation if you originally had your braces some time ago) as your teeth will not have moved back to their original position. And you wont have to wear them as long.

      Because your teeth are not naturally straight to begin with you should be wearing your retainer regularly after your braces come off. If you have never worn your retainer and don't intend to in the future then the total cost of straightening your teeth over a lifetime will be quite costly.

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      lexy 7 years ago

      how much is the cost if i have to wear braces again? would it be cheaper?