What are dental braces?
Dental braces, or just simply braces, are an orthodontic treatment used to realign crooked or crowded teeth. They can also address the issue of malocclusion, or a misaligned jaw. Braces are typically used during adolescence, but it is becoming common for adults to use them later in life.
Topics covered on this page
- Cost of dental braces
- Factors affecting the cost of treatment
- Is the cost covered by insurance?
- Causes of crooked teeth
- Associated health problems
- Are braces right for you?
- Types of dental braces
- Getting your dental braces
- Adapting to dental braces
The average cost of dental braces can range from $3,000 to $10,000 or more according to the American Dental Association (ADA). The price isn’t set in stone; it depends on a variety of factors like the type of braces you go for, how long you’ll need them, the quirks of your dental situation, where you live, and how seasoned your orthodontist is. Here’s a general idea of what you might be looking at for different kinds of braces:
- Traditional metal braces: These are the ones you see most often, and they tend to run between $3,000 and $7,000. They’re usually the wallet-friendliest option.
- Ceramic braces: These braces come with brackets that blend in with your teeth, making them less conspicuous than the metal variety. However, they do cost a bit more, typically ranging from $4,000 to $8,000.
- Lingual braces: These are the stealthy braces tucked away behind your teeth, invisible from the front. They’re the fancy option but also the priciest, starting at around $8,000 to $10,000 or more.
- Invisalign or clear aligners: Invisalign and similar clear aligner systems use see-through, removable aligners to gently shift your teeth into place. The bill for Invisalign can swing from $3,000 to $8,000, depending on how intricate your dental situation is and how many aligners you’ll need.
For a more accurate quote, contact a qualified orthodontist near you.
There are several factors that can affect the cost of dental braces. Here are some of the top factors that influence cost.
- Your Orthodontist: The experience and reputation of your Orthodontist can affect the cost of your treatment. Usually, Orthodontists with extensive training or specialization may charge higher fees. When choosing an orthodontist, look for ones that are certified by the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO). Although board-certification and memberships in any organization does not guarantee a successful outcome, orthodontists must meet stringent criteria in order to achieve membership and board-certification. You can be confident that you are working with a highly trained, and experienced orthodontist who will help ensure your dental braces treatment goes smoothly.
- Location Matters: Where the dental practice is located can impact the cost. Dental services in urban areas or regions with a higher cost of living often come with a heftier price tag compared to rural areas. To get a general idea of the prices for dental procedures in your local area, you can use the Healthcare Blue Book, which functions similarly to Kelley Blue Book for estimating car prices.
- Number of Teeth: The cost will depend on the number of teeth that require treatment.
- Type of Braces: Traditional metal braces are usually the most affordable option, while ceramic braces, lingual braces, and clear aligner systems (e.g. Invisalign) generally are more expensive.
- Duration of Treatment: The length of your treatment can impact the overall cost. Longer treatment times may require more dental visits, adjustments, and additional materials.
- Complexity of the Case: Cases that require significant tooth movement, correction of bite issues, or addressing more severe dental problems may require more advanced treatment techniques, appliances, and additional time.
- Retention Phase: After the braces are removed, a retention phase is typically required to maintain the desired results. This usually involves wearing retainers.
- Dental Insurance: In certain cases, dental braces may be covered by insurance if it’s deemed necessary for functional purposes.
If you are considering dental braces, schedule a consultation with an experienced cosmetic orthodontist near you. This will allow you to discuss your dental goals and gain a thorough understanding of the specific cost breakdown and factors that pertain to your individual case.
Dental insurance coverage for braces can vary depending on your specific insurance plan. In general, dental insurance plans categorize orthodontic treatment as a form of major dental care. As a result, coverage for braces may be subject to certain limitations, waiting periods, and conditions.
Here are some points to consider regarding dental insurance coverage for braces:
- Age restrictions: Dental insurance plans often have age restrictions for orthodontic coverage. It is more common for coverage to be provided for children and teenagers. Adult orthodontic coverage may be limited or not covered at all by some dental insurance plans.
- Pre-authorization and waiting periods: Many plans require pre-authorization before orthodontic treatment begins. Also, there may be waiting periods before coverage becomes active.
- Coverage limits: Dental plans usually have a maximum coverage limit for treatment. This limit is often a specific dollar amount or a percentage of the total treatment cost. Once the coverage limit is reached, any remaining costs become the patient’s responsibility.
- Deductibles and co-pays: Dental plans typically have deductibles and co-pays that need to be met by the patient.
- In-network providers: Dental plans may have a network of preferred or in-network providers. If you choose a dental clinic who is within the network, you may receive greater coverage or discounted rates compared to out-of-network providers.
It’s important to carefully review your insurance policy or contact your insurance provider directly to understand the specifics of your coverage for before undergoing any treatment. Learn more about the basics of dental insurance from the National Association of Dental Plans (NADP).
There are severe factors that may contribute to misalignment. Some of the more common factors affecting bite include:
- Having extra teeth
- Missing teeth
- Tongue thrusting
- Thumb sucking
- Jaw function problems
Malocclusion is technical term for teeth that are misaligned and do not interact properly. It is the most common dental concern to prompt braces treatment. The interaction between the teeth on your top and bottom jaw affects the health and functionality of your teeth and smile. Misaligned teeth can cause:
- Muscle pain in the head and neck
- Jaw pain (potentially TMJ disorder)
- Jaw clicking
- Abnormal wear and tear on teeth
Symptoms that may mean it is time to see an orthodontist about braces include:
- Difficulty chewing or biting
- Sucking the thumb or fingers
- Speech difficulties
- Early or late loss of baby teeth
- Mouth breathing
- Crowded or misplaced teeth
- Grinding or clenching teeth
- Protruding teeth
- Biting your cheek or into the roof of your mouth
In children, most dental braces treatments begin between 8 and 14 years old, as it is best to get an early start.
Your orthodontist will discuss with you the different types of braces available and help determine which ones best meet your needs. There are five main types of braces available:
- Metal Braces – Classic or traditional braces use metal brackets that are cemented onto the teeth and are connected with a metal archwire.
- Ceramic Braces – Brackets can also be made of ceramic that is tooth-colored, which makes them less visible.
- Self-ligating Braces – This option uses doors or clips to hold the wire in place, rather than elastic rubber ties.
- Lingual Braces – Lingual braces are placed on the back of your teeth, as opposed to the front of your teeth with classic braces. The main benefit of lingual braces is they are not visible.
- Clear aligners – (e.g. Invisalign) These are clear and transparent removable braces. Option for patients who just need a “touch up” but offer limited ability compared to braces when addressing difficult problems or comprehensive treatments
The Initial Exam
Before treatment can begin, a thorough evaluation must first be conducted to determine the severity of the problem and any additional oral health concerns. Oral health issues such as gingivitis, tooth decay, and gum disease must be treated before braces can be placed. The initial consultation may include an oral, facial and functional examination, intraoral and facial photos, x-rays, bite/teeth impressions, and more. The following describes the general process for getting metal or ceramic braces but may vary depending upon patient and provider.
Placement of Your Braces
Once your treatment plan is in place, your orthodontist will place your dental braces. They will begin by placing a device in your mouth to keep it open and dry, and to hold your tongue into place. Your teeth are dried, and a chemical is applied to help the adhesive hold the braces. The metal brackets of the braces are bonded to your teeth using a special cement; this is hardened using a curing light to set the bond. Finally, your orthodontist will run a metal archwire through the braces and hold it into place with bands. Depending on the look you want to achieve, you can choose from metal brackets or tooth-colored ceramic brackets. Metal brackets can be customized with colored bands that are changed each visit.
Once your braces are placed, you will need to visit the orthodontist every four to eight weeks to get them “tightened.” They will replace the archwire every time, helping shift your teeth gradually. Since your teeth will be moving, you may feel some discomfort after these appointments; this will usually go away after a few days.
How long will you have to wear braces?
Typically, braces treatment takes between one to three years, although treatment can be much longer or involve more than one phase.
After Braces: Retainers
When it comes time to get your braces removed, your orthodontist will create another mold of your mouth with your newly aligned teeth. This will be used to create a retainer that is worn to hold your teeth into place. There are three common types of retainers:
- Removable Hawley wire retainers
- Removable clear plastic retainers
- Permanently bonded retainers
Removable retainers can be easily adjusted and worn at any time to gradually shift teeth back into place if they move. They are also easier to clean than bonded retainers. However, they can be easily lost or broken since they are removable; replacing them may cost some extra money.
Permanent retainers can last for years if you take good care of your teeth and clean well around them. Since they are permanently bonded to your teeth, they cannot be removed. Be sure to avoid eating hard or sticky foods with a bonded retainer.
With so many options, your orthodontist will discuss which one is best for you.
Having dental braces will impact some aspects of your life. Most importantly, you should avoid foods that can get stuck in your braces or bend the wires. These foods include:
- Corn on the cob
- Hard candy
- Sticky foods like caramel, chewing gum, or other candy
If you play a sport, be sure to wear a mouth-guard to protect your mouth and jaw from getting injured. Talk to your orthodontist about what type of mouth-guard they recommend.
It is imperative that you keep up with excellent dental hygiene; brush your teeth twice a day and floss around your braces. This will help keep your teeth and mouth healthy and prevent stains that could show when your braces are removed.
Be sure to replace your toothbrush every three months, or when it becomes frayed, or else it will not clean your teeth properly.
For more information about dental braces visit www.mouthhealthy.org.
EnhanceMyself.com relies on sources such as professional medical organizations, government agencies, academic institutions, and peer-reviewed scientific journals to write it’s articles. Learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate, in-depth, and unbiased by reading our editorial guidelines.
*Medical Disclaimer: This website does not provide medical advice. Read more.