How much do braces cost?
Dance, hockey, band camp, girl scouts, new eye glasses, new shoes, saving for college, saving for senior pictures, saving for saving and so on. Everyone wants to be the best possible parent to their children but raising them can be quite costly. And what about yourself!? Retirement savings, your next vacation, healthcare savings, paying off your credit card, your new glasses, or paying off your student loans. Perhaps you live on a big ol yacht half of the year and money is of no concern to you at all. (In which case, I doubt you are reading my blog on the cost of braces lol). If you are reading this blog, then chances are that you are much like myself and money does play an important role in your life. Today, let’s acknowledge that elephant in the room! We will discuss the cost that go into giving your child or yourself that smile that has always been deserved. I will ask you first, how can we possibly begin to put a price on braces or Invisalign without first knowing the VALUE of orthodontic treatment?
The VALUE of orthodontic treatment
Orthodontic care can be life-changing by improving your health and building your self-confidence. You have heard this before, but does it resonate with you? I was fortunate enough to have a father who is an orthodontist, so I had straight teeth from an early age. I can, however, relate to this as I suffered with acne all the way up until my college aged years. The face is an intimate part of you and plays a critical role in confidence and first impressions. Now our faith, guru, or spiritual advisors would tell us to look within and that who we really are is not how we look. Even as I type this, I know it comes off as a superficial idea. If you can see beyond this then great! For most in their formative years it can be quite challenging to look beyond this. If you knew me as a child or a young adult, then you knew how confident I came across at most times. The truth behind that was that there was always a little voice in social settings and job interviews that would not let me forget my acne. Confidence on the inside, radiates to those on the outside around us. It is felt like presence. Our smiles are a huge part of our face and thus have a major role in the impressions that we leave.
When your orthodontist evaluates you, he or she is looking far beyond just the alignment of your teeth. They have the longevity of your teeth and general oral health in mind. As an orthodontist, my considerations are the stability of the jaw joints (TMJ), abnormal habits, the health of the gum tissue and bone that supports the teeth, and the way that the teeth come together (the bite). And of course, straight teeth! Straight teeth creative a beautiful smile and confidence. Straight teeth also make it easier for you to keep your teeth clean which ultimately results in healthy gums that allow you to keep your teeth longer. Straight teeth are great but straight teeth along with a healthy bite is really what we are going for. When your teeth come together the proper way you have better stability of your teeth long-term, you have reduced risk of jaw joint (TMJ) issues, and you can better digest your food. In some individuals, orthodontics can improve their speech and their ability to get oxygen to the rest of their body (most call it breathing). These are all loaded topics and I plan to discuss them all more in depth in blogs to come. Please reach out if you cannot bare the suspense and wish to discuss this right now.
What are braces or Invisalign doing?
Moving every single tooth in your mouth! Braces and aligners (Invisalign) are tools used by orthodontic specialist to move teeth and create healthy smiles. An orthodontist is a dentist that has gone to 2-3 additional years of training to learn about the way that our teeth and jaws develop and the way in which they can be corrected to ideal. Moving teeth and jaws are the only thing that orthodontist focus on all day, every day. So, what are orthodontist doing with braces or aligners? They are moving every tooth in your mouth to find the most harmonious balance for esthetics and function of your smile. I will say this one more time….we are moving EVERY SINGLE TOOTH IN YOUR MOUTH! In a sense this is full mouth reconstruction. If you have ever had a crown or filling done, you know how costly just fixing a single tooth can be. If you know someone who has damaged or lost most of their teeth and needs full mouth reconstruction, then you know that this can easily be above $40,000 dollars! Taking the cost of a single tooth or the entire mouth into consideration, you will see that the VALUE of orthodontic treatment is tremendous. Especially when “moving every single tooth in your mouth” can get you off to a healthy start and avoid the need for those more costly procedures later on in your life.
How much do braces cost?
I know most of you scrolled right to this sub heading from the start so without further ado…braces cost anywhere from $1800-$7500 with the average cost sitting between $5500-6200. Before you get sticker shock, let’s remember 1) the value and 2) that this is typically spread out over the 1-2 years that the orthodontic treatment will take to complete. Another way that I could answer this question could be “$150 per month”. This is the average payment for those that choose to use our in-office 0% financing. $150 per month! So for less than your cable bill or less than your phone bill you can afford braces believe it or not.
Why is the price range so broad?
Treatment cost is determined by one major factor. That is the complexity of the case and thus how much knowledge, time and effort will have to go into providing an incredible result. I want to be clear when we orthodontist discuss time. Time does not necessarily mean the amount of appointments. There are countless hours that each orthodontist spends behind the scenes planning and preparing for your individual needs. While you may have less treatment time than someone else, the complexity of the case may require more time in the planning phase and require more costly appliances to give you the best possible result.
Do you have financing options?
Most people do take advantage of the significant discount that is provided if they pay for their entire treatment up front. We do understand that this just is not possible for everyone. We refuse to let that stand in the way of getting the smile that you deserve. Our treatment coordinators our dedicated to working with you to find a monthly payment that fits into YOUR life. This is why we offer to finance the cost of your treatment ourselves and we do not charge you any interest to do this. That is 0% interest for you to break your payments up into a monthly payment that is easy for you. This is what we mean by flexible financing.
Do you take my insurance?
We take ALL insurances! Applying your hard-earned dental benefits to orthodontic treatment can make that pay in full discount even more affordable or your flexible financing even more flexible. Insurances will often cover one half to one third of your orthodontic treatment. Not only do we accept every type of insurance, but we also have a dedicated financial coordinator that will do all of the work to file your claim for you. You know that dealing with insurance companies can be a pain! As part of our commitment to providing the greatest orthodontic experience possible, we take this out of your hands and deal with these insurance companies on your behalf.
How much does Invisalign (aligners) cost?
The same as braces. This may not be the case everywhere you go. It used to be common practice to charge more for Invisalign since there is a significant fee that the orthodontist has to pay to the company Invisalign. Some dentist or orthodontist may still charge more for Invisalign. Again, I see Invisalign or aligners as just a tool and the price is based primarily on the complexity of the case. The important thing is selecting the correct tool. There may be some cases where Invisalign is more effective and there may be some where braces are much better. This can only be determined by your orthodontist at a consultation visit.
The cost of Phase I and Phase II treatment
Our profession is always advancing and with that advancement comes an ever-improving understanding of the growth and development of our face, teeth, and jaws. This is why we have seen an increased trend in Phase I treatment.
What is Phase I orthodontic treatment?
In sum, Phase I treatment is to correct the jaws that do not line up and to allow all of the teeth to erupt into your mouth without causing any problems to the neighboring teeth. This usually occurs between the ages of 7 and 10 years of age. In contrast, Phase II treatment is when all of the adult teeth are in the mouth and we want to make sure they are all perfectly aligned. This usually begins around the age of 12. Most orthodontist will wait until Phase II to begin orthodontic treatment if they can. There are, however, many individuals that really should not wait until the age of 12 to begin treatment. For more information on this check out my blog ‘When should I bring my child in for an orthodontic evaluation?’ and watch my YouTube ‘7&UP! At what age should your child first see an orthodontist?’.
Does it cost more to have two phases of treatment?
The internet is a funny place! When you do a search for information on Phase I orthodontic treatment you will readily find a lot of critics. Their most common critique is that Phase I orthodontics is just a ploy by orthodontist to put braces on twice and to collect more money. I can see why that is easily received by the public. I think too often the goals of phase I treatment is often misunderstood and undervalued. The final result is not quite as glamourous to the eye since the younger individual will still have some teeth missing in their transitional state. Most orthodontist will tell you that Phase I is not the final product and you will need a Phase II. I encourage you to have that open dialogue with your orthodontist and ask them what is being gained from Phase I before making any critique. We know now that if you have a Phase I, you will still require a phase II.
Here’s the real kicker! Having two separate phases of orthodontics often cost exactly the same as having a single phase of orthodontics. A Phase I typically takes 12 months of treatment and will often make any work that needs to be done in Phase II much more straight forward. This means a reduced complexity and a reduced fee in Phase II. Combine that with our “Phase I discount” (the discount you receive for having Phase I at our office) and you are paying the same as you would will a single Phase of treatment. In fact, it is usually less profitable for orthodontist to do two phases of treatment as the cost is typically the same yet the cost to put braces on twice is much more for them. I happen to know quite a bit of orthodontist so believe me when I say that they are genuine people and really want the best results possible. We are addicted to the results and at times that might mean recommending a Phase I of treatment.
The cost of treatment may vary from office to office, but they are all generally in the ballpark of what has been presented here. While all orthodontic specialist will provide an outstanding smile to you or your child, I will strongly encourage you to place cost aside when making a choice in an orthodontic office. What is important is the relationship and if that office is the right fit for YOU. At Lifetime Orthodontics, you may not find the lowest price. In fact, I know you will not, but we are certainly not the most expensive either. We could offer our services for free and it would not make any difference in the world unless we were the right fit for you and your family.
There is not enough room for any elephants in our office! I hope this article has helped us to kindly escort Dumbo to the parking lot. If you still feel in the dark about the financials of orthodontic treatment, please reach out to us https://lifetimeortho.com/#contact or come in for your complimentary consultation to learn more about your orthodontic needs.
Gerald W. Wesley, DDS, MS