What is the average cost of braces in 2022?
Dental braces are extremely popular. While they are mostly used by patients under the age of 18, almost one in three patients who decide on braces are adults. Despite their overwhelming popularity, braces can be prohibitively expensive. The average cost of braces depends on the brace type, with traditional (metal) braces usually costing between five and six thousand dollars. Some of the most affordable teeth aligners go for a lot lower though, again depending on the type. Dental insurance can lower these costs even more, but you need to be very careful when deciding on a plan. In this article, we will provide you with all the information on how exactly dental insurance and dental braces go together, as well as present you with an average cost of braces in 2022.
Dental braces and insurance
Normally, your medical insurance coverage does not include dental insurance. Dental insurance is an optional plan that you can purchase separately from your primary medical insurance plan. There are several types of dental insurance plans, including:
- PPO (Preferred Provider Organization) plans
- POS (Point of Service) plans
- EPO (Exclusive Provider Organisations) plans
- Discount/referral plans
- Direct Reimbursement plans
- Indemnity plans
- DHMO (Dental Health Maintenance Organizations) plans
Each of these plans has a specific purpose in mind, as well as specific rules and limitations. Furthermore, dental plans are very different from other insurance plans. A better way to look at them is as discounted plans with limited benefits. What this means is that dental insurance plans do not always cover the entire bill but provide discounts on dental health services.
Most dental insurance plans will cover any preventative services such as bitewing X-rays, teeth whitening, routine cleanings, and various exams. They will also cover some basic services such as simple tooth extractions and cavity fillings. The major services that might also be covered include bridges, crowns, root canals, periodontic deep cleanings, oral surgery, and similar.
Lastly, dental insurance plans will cover orthodontia, which is the category into which braces and retainers fall. However, most insurance companies will not cover braces for adults. Furthermore, every dental insurance plan has its own set of limitations, such as the “missing tooth clause”. There is also a waiting period before the plan comes into effect, which varies from provider to provider. Dental insurance can significantly lower the average cost of braces in 2022, and it might be in your best interest to find a plan that suits you.
While dental insurance plans might cover braces, there are some restrictions to observe. The most notable restriction is that you can only get coverage for braces once in your lifetime. This restriction will be in effect even if you get a new dental insurance plan. Aside from this restriction, there may be numerous others, depending on the dental insurance plan of your choice. It is always advisable to take some time to read the plan in its entirety before signing it.
While some plans may even cover dental implants, it might not always be in your best interest to go for those plans. There is a lot to know about dental implants, after all, and you may want to do some research beforehand. Furthermore, you may want to get in touch with a specialized broker when shopping for the best plan. If you are planning on getting braces in due time, you will want to only consider plans that cover orthodontia specifically and take note of the exclusions and limitations.
Best ways to get dental insurance
When shopping around for a dental insurance plan, you will first want to see if your employer can provide you with one. The main benefit of employer dental insurance plans is that there are no waiting periods. But the general benefits are also better and the plans themselves are much cheaper. This should always be your first option.
If you can, try to avoid individual dental insurance plans. These plans come with a hefty waiting period, where they will only cover procedures for maintaining your oral health, such as exams and cleanings for the first year. What you might want to do instead is search for any dental practices that offer memberships. These memberships usually include low annual fees and have the potential to save you quite a bit of money in the long run. They will limit you to a certain practice, though, so be extra careful with your choice.
All in all, your insurance plan can provide you with up to a 50% price reduction on braces. Now, let’s take a look at how much braces cost on their own.
The average cost of braces in 2022
The cost of braces heavily depends on the type of treatment. Clear aligners are usually the cheapest option, as they do not require you to frequently visit your orthodontist. The most expensive braces are lingual braces, as they require precision and extra care. It is entirely possible that your teeth can benefit from more than one brace type, so it is very important to carefully consider the best (and most affordable) option. One of the qualities of a good orthodontist is the ability to present you with all the options instead of simply opting for the most expensive one. With that in mind, here are the brace varieties that you can choose from:
- Traditional (metal) braces
- Ceramic braces
- Lingual braces
- Clear aligners
- Self-ligating braces
Metal braces – $3,000 to $7,000
Traditional metal braces average a cost of $5,000 to $6,000 in most orthodontic practices. These braces utilize archwires and metal brackets to slowly shift your teeth into the desired position. Wearing traditional metal braces involves attaching them to your teeth via a bonding agent (usually glue), and tightening the wires. The standard treatment with metal braces requires up to two years, depending on your teeth. Even with so many other brace options, traditional braces are still some of the most popular on the market due to their cost and applicability to a wide range of dental issues.
Ceramic braces – $4,000 to $8,500
Ceramic braces are often seen as a direct improvement to metal braces. Their cost indicates so, as the average cost of braces in 2022 is around $6,000, which is quite similar to metal braces. The primary difference between ceramic and metal braces is the fact that the former are tooth-colored or have clear brackets. They are, therefore visually more appealing than metal braces. However, due to the difference in material, the treatment time is also prolonged, taking up to three years. Lastly, ceramic is much more prone to breaking than metal. Most orthodontists do not charge for replacing a couple of brackets, though. But if you constantly need replacements, you can expect additional charges.
Lingual braces – $5,000 to $13,000
Lingual braces are “special” in way that they do not attach to your front teeth like most other brace types. They attach to the back teeth instead. This means that the braces themselves are practically invisible as well as durable. Their position makes them perfect for people who play sports that may include an impact on the teeth, as well as anyone who does not want their braces to show.
There are a few disadvantages to lingual braces, though. First, they are the most expensive variant on the market, averaging a price of around $10,000. Second, this brace type has the highest initial discomfort of them all. Even so, they remain one of the more popular brace types. And lastly, the practice of lingual orthodontics is rarer than other practices. You might have a few issues finding a local orthodontist that can fit you with lingual braces.
Clear aligners – $1,000 to $8,500
Clear aligners, also known as invisible braces, are the most popular brace type on the market today. Flagshipped by Invisalign, this brace type features lower cost, complete invisibility, and the ability to remove them. Clear aligners do not have any brackets or wires but they require a significant commitment to wearing them. Most treatments require the patients to wear the aligners for 20+ hours per day.
As for the cost, the average price of clear aligners is around $3,400 but it depends on the required treatment. In some cases, you can even pay as much as $9,000 in total. The reason for this is the fact that you may need anywhere from 20 to 50 aligners over the course of the treatment. The treatment itself usually lasts between 12 and 18 months.
Self-ligating braces – $3,000 to $7,000
This brace variant is pretty much the same as traditional metal braces, as far as the cost is concerned. The difference between the two lies in the fact that self-ligating braces utilize spring-loaded door brackets, providing a more discreet look. There is practically no reason not to opt for self-ligating braces instead of traditional metal braces if they are suitable for treating your specific condition. For example, you can’t utilize self-ligating braces if you need your teeth to be moved in a very precise way. While these braces improve on their traditional counterparts, they do not replace them entirely.
If you would take all of these brace types and placed them in a single group, the average cost of braces in 2022 would be around $6,000. Your dental insurance can then reduce by up to 50% of the cost.
If you are looking for more information about all the different types of braces, simply peruse the Consumer Opinion Guide. We are here to provide you with the up-to-date information you may need to make the ideal choice!