Braces have been around for over 100 years. So then why is it so challenging to get straight answers to simple questions like: How much do braces cost?
There’s a lot of noise in the information online. If you read even a few articles on the price of braces, you might see dramatically different cost estimates. Either that or the ranges given are so big that they’re hardly even useful. The information you do get from these articles can often be vague or unclear.
At Dickerson Orthodontics, we believe that everyone deserves a winning smile. It ought to be easy for you to get answers to the basic questions about braces like how much they cost, and how they compare to other orthodontic treatment methods – like clear aligners. Whether you live near our office in Phoenix, Chandler, Scottsdale, or Peoria, here’s the information you need to make a confident decision about braces cost.
So here we go.
The Basics on Braces
Braces are one of the most time-tested methods of orthodontic treatment. Even amid the rise in popularity of alternative forms of orthodontic treatment – such as clear aligner brands like Invisalign – braces remain the most popular today.
We’re not here to tell you that braces are the only solution that’s right for your smile. In fact, we offer both Braces and Invisalign to patients. Both are excellent solutions and the right choice for you depends on multiple factors (For more on when braces are best and when Invisalign is best, check out our Braces vs. Invisalign Guide.) But there are some good reasons braces are still #1 in popularity, and the cost of braces is certainly a factor.
What are braces?
Braces are a set of brackets bonded to your teeth. One bracket for each tooth. They’re usually metal, but a clear version using ceramics is also an option. Braces are semi-permanently bonded in your mouth for the length of treatment and stay in at all times.
The most important part of braces to most of our younger patients is the color of the small elastics that keep the wire in place. Ceramic braces, like the ones we offer at Dickerson Orthodontics, also allow you to also choose clear braces (or ‘invisible braces’ as some call them) and tooth-colored braces.
What is the purpose of braces?
The goal of braces is to move your teeth and jaws using small, controlled forces that cause them to realign into an ideal position for both esthetics and function. These movements enable you to achieve your very best smile possible. Braces are one method of accomplishing straight teeth in this fashion. Braces and the other methods – like clear aligners – fall under the umbrella of ‘orthodontic treatment’.
How Much Do Braces Cost?
We’ve got a straight answer for you right away: quality braces treatment in the United States typically will cost you about $6,000 – $7,000.
Although cost is very important, be careful with how much weight you put simply on the money aspect of cost alone. There are other important factors that have invisible impacts on your braces cost, and can significantly influence the quality of treatment you receive. We’ve got you covered there, too.
Below are important questions to ask and factors that will influence the price of braces for you. Keep reading to get the insights that help you feel confident in your braces decision. You’ll walk away from this article with answers to things like:
- How your braces cost compares to the average cost of other orthodontic treatment methods.
- Why there are good reasons it can be so hard to find a direct answer about the cost of braces online.
- What your insurance will cover and how to know if you have coverage.
- The factors that influence price and the hidden costs to be watching out for.
What are the key factors that impact the price of braces?
The answer to the first question helps answer the second question so let’s start there. The key factors that impact the cost of braces for you are:
- The complexity of your treatment
- The expertise of your doctor
These are the two main elements that influence the price of braces, and a big reason why you’ll generally only find really big ranges of costs for braces online.
Why is it so hard to find a clear price for braces online?
When you search online, you might see an estimated range of costs for braces as large as $1,800 – $8,000. What’s happening is the author is accounting for a huge range of potential complexity in cases. And that’s actually a good thing. Your teeth and smile are completely unique to you and distinct from everyone else on the face of the planet – so your smile treatment plan should be the same. Only trust a price and a plan from a doctor who has actually seen your teeth.
But when websites give you a very generic range and tell you to consult your doctor for answers, they aren’t giving you much in the way of usable information. It is definitely better than misleading you with a price that doesn’t match your situation, but it’s still not as helpful as it could be.
What we find generally is that many of our braces patients require a very similar level of treatment – let’s call it ‘standard braces treatment’. Standard braces treatment typically costs between $6,000 – $7,000 total at Dickerson Orthodontics, and most quality orthodontists will fit into a very similar range.
A more complex case might cost a little bit more, and less complex cases can cost less.
If a doctor is offering you a price that is significantly less than that for a ‘standard braces treatment’, it is often a signal of their expertise. Yes, it’s possible you might have found a deal, but be careful. As with many things, with braces, you often get what you pay for.
A great doctor will never be the cheapest option, but they’ll feel like a bargain when you see your new, winning smile.
p.s. One caveat to keep in mind: there are regional variations to fees. For example, orthodontic treatment in New York City is going to be more expensive than rural Georgia. So make sure you’re comparing apples to apples.
What about doctor expertise? How does that impact the cost of braces?
The most important consideration in your cost analysis of braces is who is providing the care for you or your family.
Many general dentists these days do clear aligners and some do a nice job in many of the simpler cases. The general dentist fee in these cases can be less because they often simply let the software do the work and modify very little to fit an individual patient.
The problem is that many cases are not as simple as they look, and that is often realized too late by the treating general dentist because they have only taken a few hours of courses on orthodontics.
Among orthodontists, there can be a quality of care difference, too. Treatment provided by dental and orthodontic practices owned by corporations will often be less expensive in dollars, but more expensive in time, convenience, and sometimes hidden fees (more on this later).
These corporate offices are known as “Mills” in dentistry – high volume, less experienced doctors. Proceed with caution, and make sure you know what you’re saying yes to.
On the other hand, a good orthodontist has years of additional training and sees thousands of different cases over time. Because treatment is routine for orthodontists, it is easy to make what is done seem significantly more simple than it really is. When it comes to your smile, there is hardly something that more obviously displays: you get what you pay for.
How do braces costs compare to the cost of other orthodontic treatments?
Now that you know that standard braces treatment usually costs between $6,000 – $7,000, and a big range for braces is between $2,500 – $8,000, how does that compare to the average cost of other orthodontic treatment methods?
The average cost of orthodontic treatment is very similar to the range for braces. You might find price estimates online for orthodontic treatment with a professional for anywhere between $2,500 – $10,000. Sometimes the range is even more.
Braces tend to be on the more cost-effective side of orthodontic treatment methods. Today, clear aligner solutions like Invisalign are much more comparable in price to braces than they used to be. But after factoring in lab fees, braces tend to be a little bit cheaper overall than their clear aligner competitors. And sometimes, a little bit cheaper can make a big difference.
What about insurance? What does that cover?
If you have orthodontic coverage through your insurance, it may cover a part of your braces treatment. In the United States, some plans only cover adults, some only cover children, and some don’t cover anything at all.
If you are covered by insurance, the average coverage is about $1000. Some people might get up to $1500, but that is rare. (Humorously, the amount insurance covers hasn’t changed at all since 1970.) It’s worth noting that if you are thinking of joining an insurance plan to get $1000, you will pay $1500 in insurance premiums to the insurance company for that $1000 benefit.
What secret costs and hidden fees are there to be aware of?
There are all different kinds of approaches to treatment fees and costs associated with treatment. Every practice has its own way of doing it just about. This is definitely something you need to be aware of as you make your decision about braces. The prices you’ve been quoted might not all be created equal.
Some of the bottom-line prices for braces may include everything associated with your treatment, and others may just be for the braces themselves – with everything else being an additional cost.
Here are some of the common items that practice may charge extra for:
Initial Consultation + Patient Records – Patient records would include things like models of your teeth, photos, and exams from your initial consultation. Your initial consultation might also cost a fee. Some places still charge for you to access your records – not all. It can be between $200 – $500.
Treatment Equipment + Tools – in the age of technology, many practices incorporate technology tools and other equipment into their treatment process to help with monitoring and speeding up treatment results. All of these tools have a cost, and some practices may charge you for them.
Custom Re-Shaping + Slenderizing – these are examples of two common services, especially in adult cases, that can make huge impacts for you. They lead to significant functional and cosmetic improvements with your smile. Often practices charge $200 – $500 for a service like this.
Retainers – often offices charge for retainers. It can range from $200 – $300 for 1 set of retainers.
Tooth Whitening (at-home) – many practices might charge for an add-on like this if you’d like it at the end of treatment.
Many practices charge for these items, and others as well. The bottom line is that fees are a mixed bag, and it is very important to know what the fee includes (and doesn’t include) before you start treatment. You may be surprised by your total braces cost later.
How to Know Exactly How Much Your Braces Cost
Now that you’ve got clear answers about how much braces cost, how about a clear next step to take with your new information?
Get a Free Braces Consultation today at Dickerson Orthodontics and we’ll build you a treatment plan customized to you and complete with a single price for treatment – no surprise costs, and no hidden fees. Just one simple and clear price for everything. The price we give you is the price you pay.
We’ll work directly with your insurance provider to make sure you’re saving the maximum amount possible based on your coverage. If financing is helpful for you, we have flexible monthly payment plans, and will partner with you to find a schedule that works.
We have locations throughout The Valley to make getting to your consult as convenient for you as possible.
And if speed and results matter to you, we’ve got you covered there, too. Many of our patients finish treatment in closer to 12 months – that’s about 50% faster than the average for orthodontic treatment (22-24 months). Plus: you’ll enjoy fewer appointments and less discomfort along the way.
If you want way more results in less time than you would get at other orthodontists in Phoenix, we’ve designed our braces treatment for you.