average cost of braces, teen girl with bracesShare on Pinterest
Westend61/Getty Images

Braces are corrective devices used to fix your bite or straighten your teeth. They’re most often used by youths when the jaw is still growing. However, over the past 2 or 3 decades, there’s been a steady rise in the number of adults with braces.

It’s now estimated that 20 to 25 percent of all people who see an orthodontist are adults. An orthodontist is a type of dentist specializing in tooth and jaw alignment.

Braces can be effective at treating dental problems, but they’ve traditionally been expensive. The price varies widely depending on factors like the type of braces you get, how long you need them, and where you live.

As a rough guideline, you can expect to pay anywhere from $3,000 to more than $10,000. Most dental insurance companies won’t cover the cost for adults, but they may cover some or all the expense for children.

Discover how much each type of braces costs, what factors influence the price, and what you can do to save money.

The price of braces can vary significantly but generally falls in the range of $3,000 to $10,000. It can also be more or less.

Depending on where you live, whether your teeth need to be moved a significant distance, or if you want braces that are less noticeable than traditional braces, you can expect to pay on the higher side.

In its 2018 annual survey, the American Dental Association listed the average price of comprehensive orthodontic treatment, which includes braces, as $5,000 to $6,000.

Some types of braces are more expensive than others. Here’s a look at how they compare.

Standard metal braces

Standard metal braces use metal brackets and wire to realign your teeth over months or years.

Standard braces are usually the cheapest, but they’re also the most noticeable. You can expect to pay about $3,000 to $7,500.

Ceramic braces

Ceramic braces resemble standard metal braces, but the brackets are clear or tooth-colored to make them less noticeable. They tend to be slightly more expensive than standard braces. The price ranges from $2,000 to $8,500.

Invisalign braces

Invisalign are one type of clear braces made from a blend of plastics that fit over your teeth. An orthodontist will create a custom pair of Invisalign braces for you by taking a mold of your bite. Like other types of braces, they put pressure against certain parts of your teeth to move them into a more ideal position over time.

Unlike metal and ceramic braces, they can easily be removed for eating or brushing your teeth.

The cost of Invisalign tends to be slightly more expensive than traditional braces. The price usually falls between $3,000 to $7,000.

Your dentist or orthodontist may recommend another brand of clear braces, which may impact the total cost.

Lingual braces

Lingual braces have the same function as traditional braces, but they’re attached to the backside of your teeth instead of the front. Lingual braces are nearly invisible, but they also tend to be the most expensive type.

The price of lingual braces falls between $5,000 to $13,000.

Most dental insurance plans don’t cover braces or other orthodontics for adults. Some providers offer an add-on orthodontic insurance plan that may offer coverage. If your insurance does fully or partially cover the price, they will likely only cover you if your braces are deemed medically necessary.

Most dental insurance providers will at least partially cover braces for children under 18 if braces are deemed to be medically necessary.

Your insurance provider is most likely to cover the cost of traditional metal braces. If you choose to get a more expensive type of braces, many providers like Delta Dental have you pay the difference.

For example, if your insurance provider covers 50 percent of the cost of basic braces but doesn’t cover other types of braces, here’s how much you might end up paying.

Type of bracesBefore insuranceAfter insurance
Metal braces$3,000 to $7,500$1,500 to $3,750
Ceramic braces$2,000 to $8,500$1,000 to $4,750
Invisalign braces$3,000 to $7,000$1,500 to $3,500
Lingual braces$5,000 to $13,000$3,500 to $9,250

Does Medicaid cover braces?

Medicaid coverage varies by state with some, but there are some minimum standards set at the federal level. For children, all states must at least cover:

  • dental treatment to relieve pain and infections
  • teeth restoration
  • medically necessary orthodontic service (including braces)

Some states may provide braces coverage for adults to treat a medical condition.

For more details about your state coverage, visit the Medicaid website.

According to the American Dental Association, braces are typically given to children or adolescents between the age of 8 to 14.

Braces are often cheaper for children, since children on average don’t need to wear braces as long as adults. In general, braces get more expensive the longer you wear them.

Adult braces usually cost slightly more than children’s braces. As an adult, your jaw is fully formed and your teeth don’t move as easily, so it will likely take braces longer to fix your bite.

A 2018 review of studies found that the average treatment time is about 19.9 months.

Insurance providers are also less likely to cover the cost of braces for adults than children.

Prices of braces vary. Factors that can influence the price include:

  • where you live
  • age
  • type of braces you get
  • the amount of time you need braces
  • expertise of your orthodontist
  • how well you take care of your braces
  • how far your teeth need to be moved

Braces can be expensive, but there are a number of ways you can lower the cost. Here are some ideas:

  • buy dental or orthodontic insurance that covers braces
  • get your braces from a dental school that offers reduced-cost treatment
  • get a quote from more than one orthodontist
  • take good care of your braces to avoid additional repair fees
  • start your braces treatment early to avoid a bigger problem later
  • use a flexible spending account (FSA)
  • pay the full price upfront (some clinics may offer a discount)
  • ask about a payment plan
  • take advantage of programs like nonprofit Smiles Changes Lives, which offers a program to low-income families to pay for children’s braces. There’s a $30 non-refundable application fee, but if you qualify, you’ll only pay $650 for your child’s braces.

The price of braces can vary significantly based on factors like where you live, how long you’ll need them, and what type of braces you get. Generally, you can expect to pay anywhere between $3,000 to $10,000, but prices can fall outside this range.

Most insurance companies don’t cover the cost of braces for adults but offer at least partial coverage for children.