How much do adult braces cost?

Talk to your orthodontist about options for braces, like Invisalign (pictured), along with cost. (Photo by Brandon Smith)

Talk to your orthodontist about options for braces, like Invisalign (pictured), along with cost. (Photo by Brandon Smith)

Braces effectively position and align your teeth by consistently exerting pressure to move them. According to the American Association of Orthodontists, treatment for braces begins between ages 9 and 14. But an increasing number of adults are getting braces, too.

The following four factors can affect the cost of your investment in braces. 

1. Types of braces

If you have dental insurance, the cost of braces for adults will depend on your specific coverage.

Stainless-steel metal braces - Regular stainless-steel metal braces are still popular because they are affordable and durable. Metal braces are the most visible. If teeth are not brushed properly or taken care of during braces treatment, they may appear discolored once brackets are removed. According to CostHelper.com, the average cost of metal braces in the U.S. is about $4,900 without dental insurance and $3,400 with dental insurance.

Ceramic braces aren't as visible, but can break easier than stainless steel. (Photo courtesy of American Association of Orthodontists)

Ceramic braces - Ceramic braces blend in with your teeth and aren't as visible, but they can break.

CostHelper.com puts the average cost for ceramic braces at about $4,600 without insurance, and nearly $2,600 with insurance.

Lingual braces - Linqual braces are concealed behind your teeth and cost more than stainless steel and ceramic, but require a skillful orthodontist to install. They don't work well on small teeth and get in the way of your tongue, so they can potentially cause speech problems and tongue injuries. Expect braces installed behind teeth to cost $5,000 to $13,000, but note that many dentists don't offer them.

Clear braces, like the Invisalign brand, are often best for minor alignment issues. (Photo by Brandon Smith)

Invisalign braces - The company that makes Invisalign braces estimates treatment costs ranging from $3,500 to $8,000. However, the national average is $5,600 with insurance, it reports. With insurance, it estimates out-of-pocket costs at about $2,100. These braces are mostly invisible and are best for people with minor alignment issues.

2. Dental issues

In addition to getting braces and having them adjusted (usually once a month), dental preparation is often needed and will affect your overall cost. Sometimes you'll need standard dental work—like a deep cleaning or filling replacement—before the orthodontist puts your braces on. In some cases, you'll require teeth extractions to facilitate the movement of your teeth.

If you need to wear headgear before brackets and wires are put on your teeth, this will increase the cost. You may also need to buy a retainer after the braces are removed to keep your teeth from returning to their original spot.

MORE: Talk to your dentist or orthodontist about all the options for straight teeth

3. Length of service

The more preparation and dental work you require, the longer the process will take to complete, and the more you'll pay. Simply put, more office visits means more bills. The average treatment time for braces is 23 months, but it can take significantly more time or less, so talk to your orthodontist. Once your braces are on, you typically have to see the dentist once a month to have the braces adjusted.

4. The dentist

Not all orthodontists charge the same prices for their services. Things such as operational overhead will affect how much they charge. After all, they are running a business. For example, if the lease of the building where one dentist operates is higher than of a dentist a town over, chances are the orthodontist with the more expensive rent will charge more.

That's why it's important that you shop around before making a choice. If the dentist accepts your insurance (and assuming your insurance covers a portion of the cost), you can end up paying significantly less.

You may not realize that the price of braces is often negotiable. Check the price in your area with Healthcare Blue Book, a free online guide that lists fair prices for healthcare services. The fair price is what a health service provider typically allows from insurance companies as full payment, which is substantially less than the billed amount. 


Editor's note: This is an updated version of a story that originally posted October 12, 2012.


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4 Types of Dental Braces

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Orthodontist, Dr. Jacqueline Miller of Washington, Missouri, shows patient Shane Lee the progress braces are making to reposition his teeth. (Photo courtesy of the American Association of Orthodontists)

An increasing number of adults are choosing braces to straighten their teeth. They can select from these four types of braces to improve their smile.

Comments

Hi, i already wore braces in my country, but i need to service them. How much it will cost to change o ring?

Hi Nurul, Many orthodontists price the entire braces treatment process rather than each invididual appointment to change ligaments and wires. If you're in need of a new orthodontist mid-treatment, you might want to find an office that offers free consultations. Ask for a detailed cost estimate for the remainder of your treatment. Good luck!

This article is incorrect in saying metal braces stain teeth. Improper brushing can lead to staining and cavities, with or without braces. Braces are glued onto the teeth and underneath the braces is your tooth color when you got your braces on. After 2 years of poor brushing, the tooth area NOT covered by the braces may be darker, stained, or even have decay. This rarely happens with adults, since they are typically good brushers, care about their appearance, and clean their teeth every time the eat. Some pre-teens and teens are not so good about this, especially boys.

Hi BELB, thank you for your reply! You are right, teeth are not normally stained by metal brackets, but may appear stained once brackets are removed at end of treatment if there has been a lack of brushing or proper hygiene. We have updated the article to better clarify that point. Thanks! Katie from Angie's List

HI I AM 35 and I have double teeth and need braces how much would it coast and do you do a payment plan.I have stay well.I want me teeth fixed asap.thank you for your time

Hi Kristy, as stated in the article, the cost for braces very depending on the type you choose and what your orthodontist determines to be the best treatment method. Traditional, stainless steel braces are one of the most popular options because of their affordability and durability. I was an adult braces wearer and opted for ceramic brackets so they'd be less noticeable, but that added an additional $800 in total cost. My treatment plan cost about $5,000. Many orthodontists offer a free consultation where they will explain pricing and payment options. Also, check with your insurance - some policies cover adult braces while others have an age limit. Hope this helps! Good luck with your treatment!

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