It’s an important question that many parents ask when they find their children need orthodontic care: How much do braces actually cost? While you mostly want the process to be productive and painless, it’s also important to consider the varying costs of braces.
While it’s possible to calculate your payment amounts, many factors contribute to the cost of orthodontics. These include the type of braces, your child’s teeth, your child’s dental hygiene, and your plan of financing. Your total cost for braces may be as low as $3,000, or as high as $8,000. With a little bit of research, you can choose a course of treatment that saves you money, and a financing plan that makes the cost easier to bear. We’ve updated this blog post to give you additional information about the cost of braces for kids, how to budget and what to expect.
How Much Do Braces Cost and How Can You Save?
Type of Braces
There are several different types of braces, and the type that your child needs will impact the total treatment plan and cost of treatment. Some braces, like clear aligners and ceramic braces, are harder to see, while others will take less time. The average cost of braces for kids will vary based on time and type.
- Traditional Metal Braces: Traditional metal braces are the oldest and most common type of braces. The average cost of metal braces is also generally lowest. These braces stand out more than other types, and some children dislike the obvious appearance of metal braces.
- Damon Braces: Damon braces use clear, sliding brackets in lieu of metal brackets. The average cost of Damon Braces is usually higher, but can generally shorten the term of the orthodontic treatment.
- Clear Aligners: Clear aligners, such as Invisalign, seem to be the most visually appealing to many. Clear aligners use a series of trays molded to your teeth to gradually move them into position. Compared to traditional braces, Invisalign are usually the most expensive option for treatment. If only minor corrections are needed, Invisalign may be a cost-effective option.
- Ceramic Braces: While traditional braces use metal and clear aligners use plastic, ceramic braces use ceramic material to align teeth. Ceramic braces may work slower than metal braces and the total cost of treatment may be higher.
- Lingual Braces: Lingual braces work similarly to traditional metal braces, except they are attached to the inside of teeth. This means they are out of sight, but they can make major corrections like traditional braces.
Don’t be afraid to ask your orthodontist which type of braces will be most affordable and why. Remember to consider the average of treatment for a year as well as how long treatment will be required. This will help you assess the total cost of treatment.
Preparing Your Child’s Teeth
Your child’s treatment plan before they get braces can decide what type of braces are best for them, how long they will need braces, and the total cost of treatment. Some children may need teeth extracted to leave enough room for other teeth to come in. Other children may need a palatal expander before getting braces. A palatal expander creates more room in a child’s mouth, so teeth can come in straight. This will add to the total treatment cost your child will need to straighten their teeth.
The following factors can require additional dental or orthodontic visits before your child can be fitted for braces:
- Tooth extraction: To make space for your child’s teeth to come in straight, some teeth may need to be extracted. Tooth extraction is a routine process, but it will require additional visits.
- Palatal expander: A palatal expander actually expands the jaw and creates more room for teeth to come in straight. The jaw is still flexible in children, so this process is easier at a young age. However, this process may take three to six months.
- Tooth decay treatment: If your child has tooth decay, damaged teeth or other dental health problems, these must be resolved before any type of braces will be effective. Depending on the damage, this may require one or a few dental visits, and perhaps treatment with antibiotics.
What is the Process for Getting Braces?
Once they have braces, some children may only need to wear them for a year, while others will need more time. The arrangement of your child’s teeth and their bite will determine how long they should wear braces. In general, children tend to wear braces between 18 and 24 months.
To help understand the cost of braces for kids, it’s helpful to know how the process of applying braces works, and what to expect. As previously mentioned, there are different kinds of braces, the process behind each of these varies slightly.
The first step in getting braces is a consultation. At this stage, you, your child and your dentist can discuss the best options for your child’s braces, and estimate the costs. At the next appointment, if no other interventions are needed (see the previous section), your child can get their braces on. Or, if your child will be using clear aligning trays like Invisalign, the first trays will be fitted.
Once the braces or trays are fitted, they will continue to realign your child’s teeth for the next 18 to 24 months. Every four to six weeks, your child will need to revisit the dentist so the braces can be tightened, or the trays replaced.
Dental Hygiene Considerations
A child’s dental hygiene will impact how much braces cost. Maintaining good dental hygiene is difficult for many children, and this is harder with braces. Children that exercise good dental hygiene and clean their teeth carefully while they wear braces will benefit from stronger, healthier teeth and they will shorten the time they need braces. Children who are less careful might require extra treatment to prevent gum disease, infection, or tooth decay, and they may need to wear braces longer, incurring more costs.
Here are a few of the ways you can help your child keep their teeth clean before and while they’re wearing braces.
- Brush teeth twice a day every day at the same time
- Floss carefully at night around brackets using dental floss or a water flosser
- Avoid sugary candy and drinks
- See your dentist regularly
- If you use Invisalign, remove the trays when you brush, floss and eat
Cost of Dental Visits
The amount and frequency of visits will depend on your child’s teeth and the type of braces they have. However, the cost of each visit depends on your dentist and your insurance. The cost of each visit will be an especially important consideration if you are paying for braces without dental insurance. To know how much braces will cost for your child, get an estimate of how many visits your child will need and the cost of each visit.
- Location: As with any business, the overhead costs of running a dental or orthodontic office will be higher in bigger cities and busier areas. Therefore, getting braces will be more expensive in these areas.
- Teeth complexity: If the arrangement of your child’s teeth is complex, or if they are suffering from tooth decay or other dental problems, the dental visits may also require more complex interventions, and may be more expensive.
- Specialization: If your child needs to see a specialist, such as an oral surgeon, before they can be fitted with braces, or sometime during the process, the cost of dental visits can be more expensive.
- Medication: If your child requires antibiotics to treat a tooth infection, pain medication, or other medicines to make the braces process easier or more manageable, this can also add to the overall cost of braces and dental visits.
Other Financial Considerations
Insurance and FSA
When it comes to how much braces cost, your insurance plan is one of the most important factors to consider. Insurance can cover up to $3,500 of your child’s orthodontic care. The copays, deductible amount, maximum coverage, and type of care covered in your plan will significantly impact the cost of braces. A flexible savings account (FSA) can be used to cover up to $2,550. Before selecting an orthodontic specialist, make sure you fully understand the specifics of your insurance policy and FSA.
The following are a few considerations to keep in mind when figuring how much braces cost for kids, and how to budget for braces.
- Double-check your dental insurance: If you have dental insurance, make sure that your dentist or orthodontist accepts it. Dental insurance can significantly help reduce the cost of braces.
- Confirm your insurance details: When working with dental insurance, it’s important to budget for copays and deductibles, and ensure that you know the maximum coverage limits. Read your insurance policy carefully and be sure you understand these aspects of your coverage.
- Look for payment plans: Payment plans can help to make budgeting for braces easier, and reduce interest as you pay off the cost of braces month to month. Ask your dentist about payment plans and compare interest rates.
- Research medical loans: Many banks, credit unions and other lenders offer medical loans to cover medical costs, including dental care. Once again, take a close look at interest rates and the details of the loan to see if this is the right option for you.
- Budget costs: Take a look at our Orthodontic Payment Calculator to get an approximation of your costs. This can help you plan our your budget.
The right payment plan can make the cost of braces much more manageable. Paying more for your child’s braces up front will reduce the overall cost, but paying for braces in one lump sum is not practical for many families. Ask your orthodontist about the available payment plans and you can make the cost of braces a part of your regular budget. Our handy Orthodontic Payment Calculator can provide you with a reasonable estimate of your payments, depending on how long of a term you choose.
How much braces cost varies greatly, but you can estimate the cost and budget for your child’s braces. Most likely, your child will have braces for at least a year and a half with ten to fifteen orthodontic visits in that time, so it’s a wise financial decision to understand the cost. To get an estimate for your child’s braces, schedule an orthodontic appointment at BDG today.