No one wants their kids to go through those difficult preadolescent or teenage years with crooked teeth. And surely no parent wants to see their kids enter adulthood with unaddressed dental issues.
But braces can be incredibly expensive. How much do braces cost exactly? It depends on a number of factors, each of which we address below. But you’ll also find information below that shares ideas for managing the cost of braces.
So, take a look and find a path that will allow you to help your child get the help needed for his or her teeth.
The Average Cost of Different Types of Braces
One of the main influencing factors for the cost of getting braces is what type of braces you get for your child. Braces today fall into four main categories. Here’s a look at the four common types of braces, as well as how much you can expect to pay for each:
1. Metal Braces
Metal is the traditional material used for braces. Or, to be more specific, stainless steel is the traditional material used. Stainless steel is a good material for braces because it’s relatively affordable and it’s also quite durable.
If you’re choosing metal braces for your child, expect to pay around $5,000. Depending on where you live, how long the braces are worn and who is providing the service, you can pay anywhere between $3,000 and $7,000 for metal braces.
What about insurance? In most cases, dental insurance does not cover braces for adults. But, dental insurance may cover some portion of braces for children under the age of 18. Don’t expect an insurance provider to pay all or even most of the cost of braces, even if it’s a part of your plan. Dental insurance on average only covers about 25 to 30 percent of the cost of braces.
2. Invisalign Braces
Invisalign has become the most popular alternative to braces. The Invisalign process features the use of trays made of a thermoplastic rather than metal wires and brackets. The trays fit right over the patient’s teeth, and a series of different trays are used to gradually move the patient’s teeth into the desired positions.
The cost of a single set of Invisalign trays is between $100 and $200. But the patient will need to switch out trays regularly — perhaps as often as every two weeks. Depending on how many different sets of trays the patient needs, the cost could be quite high.
On average, Invisalign will cost between $4,000 and $8,000. While the price ends up being similar to that of metal braces, the process is much less invasive and intense for the patient, which makes it a popular alternative.
3. Ceramic Braces
Ceramic braces are almost identical in function to metal braces, but they use clear brackets that are much more difficult to see. That is, people are much less likely to notice when someone is wearing ceramic braces vs. metal braces.
Of course, the drawback to ceramic braces is that they break much more easily than metal braces — which can mean far more trips to the orthodontist. But ceramic braces cost about the same as both metal braces and Invisalign — between $4,000 and $8,000.
4. Lingual Braces
Lingual braces are the most rare type of braces. They are installed on the insides of teeth for cosmetic reasons — few people will notice that the patient is wearing them at all. While lingual braces are difficult to see, they do come with a number of disadvantages.
Lingual braces are difficult to install and to adjust, so many orthodontists don’t offer them at all. Lingual braces also get in the way of the tongue, and they are much more difficult to clean. They don’t work at all on small teeth, and they aren’t a good idea for patients who have intense issues.
And here’s the greatest disadvantage: Lingual braces are far more expensive than the others, costing on average between $8,000 and $12,000. You have to really hate the idea of people noticing your braces to choose lingual braces.
When Do Kids Get Braces?
There’s no specific age at which kids get braces. Some have braces installed in middle school and others in high school, Even adults often choose to get braces to fix issues that weren’t addressed when they were younger.
Consider making a first trip to the orthodontist at around 7 years old. At this age, adult teeth are starting to come in, and a professional can begin to identify emerging issues. In fact, there are many non-brace tactics an orthodontist can use to help a child with teeth or bit issues.
If your child can benefit from braces, the best time to get them on will be between 10 and 14 years of age. At this point, the mouth and teeth have developed enough to allow for braces to be effective. But, again, every child is different. Lean on the expert guidance of your orthodontist when making these decisions.
How Long Do Braces Stay On?
The amount of time a patient wears braces depends on how much work there is to do from the start. On average, a patient wears braces for between 18 and 24 months. But, there are cases when they are worn for shorter and longer periods of time, all depending on how long it takes to address specific issues the patient is experiencing.
Final Thoughts on How Much Braces Cost
Yes, braces are expensive. And orthodontists typically realize just how difficult it can be for parents to spend thousands of dollars in one lump sum. That’s why many offer payment plans that allow you to pay as you go. You may find that paying upfront comes with a discount, but payment plans can be a lifesaver for parents on tight budgets.
Just to work with round numbers, image that your child’s braces are going to cost $4,800 over the 24 months that he or she wears them. You may be able to spread that cost out over the years, making $200 each month. And $200 is much more palatable than paying almost $5,000 at the start.
Have you had an experience with braces, good or bad? Let us know about it in our comments section below, or use our contact page to send us a message directly.