How Much Do Braces Cost With and Without Insurance?

Even with insurance, braces can cost thousands of dollars. This Flossy guide goes over ways you can pay less for your braces.

July 15, 2022
How Much Do Braces Cost With and Without Insurance?

On average, braces cost about $5,000. Because many dental plans won’t cover braces, individuals may have to pay this price out-of-pocket. 

Of course, the total cost might be much higher — especially if you’re getting special types of braces that requires a more extended treatment plan. 

At Flossy, we understand the importance of straight teeth. Not only do they give you a beautiful smile, but they can also make it much easier for you to bite, chew, and fight against tooth decay. 

For this reason, we compiled a guide to help you understand how much braces cost and how you can pay less. Read on to see how you can get your best smile yet.

How Do You Know if You Need Braces? 

  1. Dental crowning
  2. Malocclusion
  3. Speech impediment

Several conditions for children and adults can only be corrected with braces. Braces may be the right choice if you’re experiencing any of the following conditions:

1. Dental Crowding

This condition is caused by the jaw being too small to accommodate the teeth — either because the teeth are too large or because they’re too numerous. A common cause of dental crowding is wisdom teeth that erupt in adulthood. 

Not only do crowded teeth look unsightly, but they can also cause dental problems. It’s not uncommon for those with dental crowding to experience pain, discomfort, difficulty biting and chewing, and difficulty cleaning the teeth.

Dental crowding also puts people at higher risk for tooth decay

2. Malocclusion

Simply put, malocclusion refers to poor alignment of the teeth. This can occur in the upper or lower jaw and lead to problems such as an overbite, underbite, or crossbite.

Mild forms of malocclusion can cause pain and discomfort. In some cases, malocclusion can cause an uneven biting force, leading to chipping or cracking.

Like dental crowding, malocclusion is also linked to a higher risk of tooth decay

3. Speech Impediment 

Although rare, some people may have a speech impediment due to uneven teeth. For instance, gaps between teeth can cause a lisp. Braces should be the first treatment approach for a speech impediment caused by dental problems.

The Different Types of Braces and Their Costs 

  1. Metal braces
  2. Ceramic braces
  3. Lingual braces
  4. Self-ligating braces
  5. Clear aligners

If you experience any of the above dental conditions, you have many options for braces. Here’s a breakdown of the five types of braces to consider:

1. Metal Braces

Perhaps the most common option for braces, metal braces has been available for over 100 years. Unlike the clunky options of days past, modern-day metal braces are small, comfortable, and require relatively little installation time.

Your dentist will put on metal braces by first installing brackets, which are small square structures holding wires in place. Dental glue placed in the center of each tooth attaches the brackets.

Once the brackets are in place, your dentist will connect the brackets with a thin metal wire. The wire is adjusted to be tight to gradually pull your tooth into correct alignment. You might need to come in every four to eight weeks for your dentist to tighten the wires. 

Metal braces range in price from $3,000 to $7,000. 

2. Ceramic Braces

Ceramic braces use brackets made from a ceramic material. These closely resemble the teeth' color, making them more subtle than metal braces.

However, there are a few downsides to ceramic braces. In the first place, they use relatively large brackets. In addition, because of their color, they are more likely to stain. Nonetheless, many adults prefer ceramic braces to their metal counterparts.

Ceramic braces cost between $4,000 and $8,000. 

3. Lingual Braces

Lingual braces go behind the teeth, making them completely invisible — a perfect option for those not enthused about the appearance of braces.

However, one downside is that their placement may lead to some temporary speech defects, such as lisping.

Another downside of lingual braces is that they require more specialized skills to install, and many orthodontists may not have the skills required.

For this reason, lingual braces generally cost more. The price of lingual braces ranges between $8,000 and $10,000. 

4. Self-Ligating Braces

Self-ligating braces are similar to metal and ceramic braces but have a different method for holding the connective wire in place. Instead of brackets, clips are used to hold self-ligating braces in place, making for easier adjustments and shorter appointment times.

As a bonus, self-ligating braces generally come with less pain and discomfort than is usual with a new set of braces. Their higher cost can therefore be worth it for some people.

Self-ligating braces cost between $4,000 and $8,000.

5. Clear Aligners

Also known as invisible braces, clear aligners are transparent “trays” worn over the teeth. They are typically worn for most of the day but can be removed for eating, brushing, and flossing.

Night-only options are available for those who don’t want to wear aligners during the day. However, these will take longer to produce the desired results.

Clear aligners are ideal for those with mild or moderate dental problems. Those with more severe conditions should stick to traditional braces.

One benefit of aligners is that they do not need to be adjusted at the dentist, which can significantly reduce dental visits. However, they may not produce results as quickly, which may not be worthwhile for some people.

Clear aligners range between $3,000 and $7,000.

Does Insurance Cover Braces?

Your health insurance will only cover braces if they’re medically necessary. While any type of teeth misalignment can potentially lead to dental problems, health insurance companies often don’t recognize this and only provide coverage for the most serious cases.

Health insurance companies use complex formulas to determine whether a procedure is medically necessary or elective. When it comes to braces, the answer isn’t as clear-cut as other dental procedures.

Your orthodontist will work with your insurance company to get you covered. They can use X-rays and other tests to show your insurance company that braces are needed. In general, your health insurance company will deem braces medically necessary if the following conditions cause them:

  • Cleft lip or cleft palate 
  • Craniofacial dysostosis 
  • Hemifacial hypertrophy 
  • Pierre-Robin complex

In addition, age can also play a role in insurance coverage for braces. Children whose teeth are still developing are much more likely to receive insurance coverage for braces.

So, what happens if your insurance doesn’t consider your braces medically necessary?

Well, it’s still possible for your health insurance company to pay for something. This can include auxiliary costs related to braces, including pre-treatment exams, retainers, and post-treatment appointments.

How Much Are Braces? 

With or without insurance, braces are rarely free. Here is what you should expect to pay depending on your insurance coverage.

How Much Are Braces With Insurance?

Even if you’re lucky enough to have coverage for braces, you may still have to pay some costs laid out by your health insurance company. Common out-of-pocket costs include the following: 

  • Premiums: This is the monthly rate for your dental insurance coverage. You may either pay for it directly or have it taken out of your paycheck. 
  • Deductible: Many insurance companies require you to pay a certain amount before your coverage kicks in. 
  • Copays: These are fees that you pay per visit. Specialist visits, such as orthodontists, may have a higher copay than visits to your general practitioner.
  • Exclusions: Your dental plan might refuse to cover certain conditions. For instance — while it’s illegal for health insurance companies to do so — some dental plans may actually deny coverage for pre-existing conditions.

In sum, even with health insurance, your premiums, deductibles, and copays can make braces cost hundreds of dollars. Nonetheless, it’s still much more affordable than paying out-of-pocket. 

How Much Are Braces Without Insurance

If you don’t have dental insurance, you might have to pocket the entire cost of your braces. This includes pre-treatment tests, materials, installation, and follow-up visits.

Depending on which braces you get, you might be looking at a total cost of more than $10,000.

One silver lining for paying out-of-pocket is that all dental healthcare expenditures are tax-deductible. Keep track of even the seemingly small expenses, such as dental care products, as these can add up.

However, not having insurance coverage can make braces seem prohibitively expensive for some people. In the next section, we’ll go over ways to finance braces to make your dreams of a beautiful smile a reality.

What Are Some Ways To Pay for Braces? 

  • Payment plans
  • HSA/FSA
  • Dental schools
  • Out-of-state providers

Some out-of-pocket payment options can help you manage the cost of the braces. Some of the most popular options include:

Payment Plans

Ask your orthodontist if they offer payment plans. Usually, these are spread out over a long time and do not have interest rates.

HSA/FSA

A health or flexible savings account can allow you to use pre-tax income for medical expenses. Depending on your income tax rate, you may be looking at savings up to 30%. 

Dental Schools

Students training to be orthodontists are closely supervised, so you may end up with near-professional results. However, you can expect a discount as high as 70% compared to licensed orthodontists.

Out-of-state Providers

The high cost of living may show in higher dental care prices if you live in a metropolitan area. Traveling to a different state can help you find lower prices. If you can make it to Arizona or New Mexico, Flossy can connect you with low-cost orthodontists in our trusted network of providers.

Takeaways 

Although many health insurance companies don’t consider braces medically necessary, we understand the importance of straight teeth. Having your teeth in proper alignment can improve your bite, make it easier to brush and floss, and prevent tooth decay. For us, braces are so much more than a cosmetic procedure.

You have several financing options if you’re interested in getting braces but can’t get insurance coverage. You can ask your provider for a payment plan, use funds from your HSA/FSA account, or visit a dental school.

If you can travel to Arizona or New Mexico, Flossy can connect you with a low-cost orthodontist. We carefully vet our providers, so they provide only the highest quality services at the lowest prices.

Visit us today for your most beautiful and healthiest smile yet. 

Sources:

Why We Have So Many Problems With Our Teeth | Scientific American

Association Between Malocclusion, Caries, and Oral Hygiene in Children 6 to 12 Years Old | BioMed Central

Prevalence and Type of Pain During Conventional and Self-Ligating Orthodontic Treatment | PubMed