Traditional braces have been present since the inception of orthodontics; they are the most functional, reliable and robust treatment money can buy. This is reflected in their popularity: over 4 million people wear braces, 25% of whom are adults. Unfortunately, braces come at a price – a very steep one. Yet, even despite the growth of cheaper competitors in clear and at-home aligners, traditional braces have persisted.
Whilst it may seem astronomical, the high cost of braces has been necessary up until this point in order to treat the most severe of dental conditions, such as class III overbites and underbites. However, recent pandemic-driven developments in teledentistry are positively impacting the cost of braces, as well as general dental fees globally.
The Cost of Treatment
A standard, universal base price for traditional braces is not available because it is highly dependent on the instruments required for an individual’s treatment and the number of office visits this will necessitate. An exact bill can only be determined for an individual’s treatment through consultation with a reputable orthodontist.
Prices should normally be within the $4000-$6000 range, though it is possible for costs to be more (or less) expensive than this depending on each unique situation – different teeth, different costs! Some factors that can impact your cost of treatment have been explored below.
More severe treatments require more numerous visits to the office, this can rack up the cost since your condition will absorb more of the orthodontist’s time, facilities and appliances in order to resolve. Each of these factors additionally increase the price, for instance, an individual with a minor condition that only requires a few metal brackets will naturally incur a cost that is smaller than one who requires many office visits and a variety of supplemental attachments.
Unfortunately, determining the severity of your misalignment can only be done by a trained professional. Visiting an orthodontist is the only reliable way to get a legitimate estimate of the cost.
Eminence of Orthodontist
As is the case with almost all other industries, the most experienced will be the most demanded, and will charge higher prices as a consequence of this. In this way, the price of treatment at your local orthodontist’s will depend on the practice’s level of expertise, the higher it is, the higher the cost will be.
Since most states require a licenced orthodontist to administer braces, who spend an additional six years of postgraduate study to gain the specialist education to move teeth, align jaws and craft smiles. Necessarily, the cost of their treatment is higher because they are more specialised than general dentists.
Location of Office
Certain cities, and even some states, simply have a higher cost associated with doing business. Orthodontist offices located in expensive cities and areas incur much higher costs simply for being based there; rent, utilities and other general bills are all increased, which is passed down to the patients of such offices.
Generally, urban and suburban areas in most states will be looking at paying a similar price, one that is often up to 50% more than in rural areas. The biggest variance in price appears to occur between states however. For example, prices in the urban areas of Hawaii range from $6,500-$8,000 – nearly double that of areas fitting the same description in Alaska.
*All individuals are unique. Your results can and will vary.
Once again, these estimates are ranges and only provide a general idea of how cheap or expensive your treatment might be. The only way to be certain is with a visit to your local orthodontist.
Necessity for Retainers
Once teeth are finished being straightened and the braces are off, retainers are required to maintain this new smile as teeth naturally tend to return back to their original position after they have been forcibly moved. There are three different types of retainers: fixed retainers, hawley retainers and clear retainers.
Depending on which retainer you choose, additional costs can vary from $200-$600. Which is actually objectively more expensive is rather difficult to answer however. This is because whilst fixed and hawley retainers are a more pricey single purchase, they are more robust and less likely to break than clear retainers, which often need to be replaced annually despite being cheaper.
Effect of Teledentistry
The pandemic created by COVID-19 has acted as the main driving force in innovation in dentistry in recent years. Highly qualified dentists and dental labs have worked earnestly to bring a distance-delivered dentistry service to remote areas. Their efforts have created intense competition for Invisalign and lowered the cost of the dental industry holistically.
The effect of teledentistry has essentially been the offering of more options for consumers, which has consequently reduced the cost of teeth straightening treatment on balance. Furthermore, the introduction of options that are far cheaper than braces for mild to moderate cases means that, whilst the price of dentistry has stayed the same, the cost facing someone to fix their teeth has reduced overall as braces only need to be used for the most serious cases.
For instance, relatively mild conditions can be solved with at-home teeth straightening kits. These are much more convenient and affordable for many people than standard braces. As providers such as SmileDirectClub eliminate the requirement for in-person office visits, the price for treatment plummets; clear aligner systems cost $1,800-$2,400.
Many people today prefer to use at-home treatments because of their convenience and affordability, but for those desiring the peace of mind that facetime with highly-skilled professionals offers – the option always remains open to them to pursue braces. These are highly worth the cost for correction of severe conditions such as bite misalignment.
For those conditions that are relatively minor though, at-home teeth aligners are perfectly suited due to their cost and convenience. Please refer to this resource for more information regarding the impact of teledentistry on the cost of braces and the wider dental industry.