When thinking of braces for yourself or your child, the cost is certainly one of the main considerations. The actual cost varies with some factors like the length of the treatment and the orthodontic problems that must be corrected. Different systems can also affect the cost. Here’s some information that would probably help you decide between traditional braces, which are cheaper, or with Invisalign.
Comparing Braces and Invisalign
Traditional braces are made from ceramic or metal brackets that are connected by wires. They remain in place throughout the treatment. “Real” braces require careful attention to oral hygiene. Some foods are also off limit as it could break a wire or bracket. The Invisalign system, on the other hand, is consists of a series of clear plastic aligners that fit over your teeth. The aligners are removable for oral hygiene, meals, and special occasions like the senior prom or wedding. Standard metal braces are advantageous when used to correct pretty much any orthodontic problem, while Invisalign won’t be effective severe malocclusion or if your teeth are shorter than the average.
The number of visits you need may vary will depend on whether you choose braces or Invisalign. With braces, most people are scheduled to come back and be checked at least once a month to have the wires tightened. This allows the orthodontist to check how much the teeth have moved and in what direction. Any minor changes will also be checked like examining the mouth, teeth, and gums for signs of problems. With Invisalign, if the retainer is made at one time, you may need fewer visits. However, some orthodontists recommend making new aligners individually, which requires frequent visits to get each new aligners fitted. Making a new aligner involves making a new mold from your teeth which consume time and supplies and can drive up the cost.
Dental Health Issues
Brackets of metal or ceramic braces are fixed to the teeth with cement. However, it is still possible for bacteria to affect the enamel under the bracket. Using braces also calls for attention to the oral hygiene. Brushing and flossing are vitally important, as brackets and wires can affect your ability to clean the tooth surfaces. Sometimes cavities can be found and treated while the braces are still on. In other cases, it is not until the braces are removed where cavities show up. While cavity treatment isn’t – strictly speaking – a cost of orthodontia, it can affect the total cost. This is one area where Invisalign offers an advantage, as the removable aligner allows you to perform a very thorough cleaning.
One of the factors many people may not consider when it comes to the cost is how the removable Invisalign aligner can affect the treatment time and results. The typical recommendation is to wear the aligner at least 22 hours a day. This would mean self-discipline for the patient. As teeth shift into their new position, it could be uncomfortable. It can be tempting, especially for children, to remove the aligner to decrease any discomfort. Sometimes a self-conscious teen may be reluctant to wear the aligner in public. However, wearing the aligner less than the prescribed time increases the chance that the treatment will take longer. Another issue of having a removable aligner is misplacing it. A lost aligner would mean additional expense to create a replacement.
Other Cost Factors
Some primary factors that determine whether braces are cheaper than Invisalign are:
~ The complexity of the case
~ How long your treatment would take
~ Where you live
~ Your insurance coverage.
It goes without saying that complex cases take more of the orthodontist’s time and effort. Remember, what you’re really paying for is the expertise and experience of your orthodontist. Treatment length affects cost, as longer treatments typically take more visits, more supplies, and more of the orthodontist’s time. Geographical considerations can also affect costs – costs are generally high in large metropolitan areas. Although insurance coverage doesn’t affect the actual cost of braces and Invisalign, it does affect your out-of-pocket costs.
Examples of Costs
In the US, standard metal braces cost between $3,500 and $7,000 for the total treatment, according to Cost Helper. Treatment times range from one to three years. Obviously, more complex problems take more time and visits, which affects cost. Lingual braces, which are placed behind the teeth and less visible, are another form of traditional braces. These take more time and effort and it is more challenging to place them on the teeth, but in other aspects, they are similar to the usual metal braces worn on the front of the teeth. The average cost of lingual braces is $5,000 to $13,000. Invisalign costs typically range from $5,000 to $8,000. However, simpler orthodontic problems may require fewer aligners and can bring the cost down to around $2,000.
Ways to Reduce Costs
The best way to reduce your out-of-pocket costs for braces and Invisalign is to have good dental insurance. The average insurance plan covers around $3,500 of the cost or orthodontic treatment, whether the treatment is for standard braces or Invisalign. Many employers offer flexible spending accounts for healthcare that will allow you to put up to $2,550 each year of pre-tax dollars into an account which you can then use for healthcare expenses, including orthodontia. You can also lower your monthly costs by saving up a down payment. Many orthodontists offer zero-percent financing or payment plans.
The bottom line? The cost of orthodontic treatment varies significantly. It really depends on how severe the orthodontic problems are, how long the treatment takes, patient cooperation and compliance with prescribed treatment, and your insurance coverage. In the long run, it’s not the system you’re paying for, it’s the expertise and experience of your orthodontist. His or her recommendations of the dental system you need can affect your costs, and a high level of expertise can also make a difference. Discuss all of these issues carefully prior to initiating orthodontic treatment. If you have questions or concerns or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact us.
Are Traditional Braces Cheaper Than Invisalign?