A number of factors contribute to the amount you might pay for orthodontic work like Invisalign. Factors include:
- your oral health needs and how much work must be done
- your location and the average prices in your city
- the dentist’s time for labor
- how much your insurance plan will help cover
The Invisalign website says their treatment costs anywhere from $3,000–$7,000. And they say that people may qualify for up to $3,000 in help from their insurance company.
According to the Consumer Guide for Dentistry, the national average for Invisalign is $3,000–$5,000.
For comparison, traditional metal bracket braces usually cost $2,000–$6,000.
Again, all of these prices depend on your individual case. Very crooked teeth or a mouth with an overbite will require more time to slowly move the teeth into an ideal position, whether you use Invisalign or traditional braces.
|Invisalign pros||Invisalign cons|
|It’s nearly invisible, so it’s not obvious when you smile||May be more expensive|
|Easy to remove when eating or cleaning your teeth||Can be lost or broken, resulting in more money and time spent on treatment|
|Usually doesn’t take any longer to complete treatment than normal braces, and may even be faster||May cause mouth discomfort and achiness|
|Requires fewer visits to the dentist’s office|
|Moves teeth more gradually than traditional braces, which may lead to less discomfort|
Orthodontics may seem like purely aesthetic treatments for a more attractive smile, but that’s not always the case. Crooked teeth are harder to keep clean, which puts you at risk of decay and periodontal disease, and can cause jaw pain. Also, people who aren’t confident in their smile may feel that they lack a certain quality of life in social and professional situations.
There are strategies and programs to decrease the cost of orthodontics or spread it out over time. If you’re looking for ways to save on Invisalign, consider:
Flexible spending accounts (FSA)
An FSA allows a set amount of pretax money to be taken out of your salary and put aside purely to be spent on any costs you incur for healthcare. FSAs are only available through an employer offering that option. Many employee benefits packages include an FSA. They are often simple to use with a debit card attached to your own account. In 2018, the maximum amount of money one person could have in an FSA is $2,650 per employer. Funds in an FSA will not roll over, so you want to use them up before the end of the year.
Health savings accounts (HSA)
An HSA also lets you take out pretax dollars from your salary and set them aside to be spent only on healthcare costs. There are two differences between an FSA and an employer-sponsored HSA are: Funds in an HSA can roll over into a new year, and HSAs require you to have a high-deductible insurance plan. In 2018, the maximum amount of money you’re allowed to put into an HSA is $3,450 for an individual and $6,850 for a family.
Many dentists offer monthly payment plans so that you don’t have to pay your whole bill at once. When you ask your dentist about how much money they estimate your orthodontic work will cost, also ask about any payment plans their office offers.
Research to see if there are any dental schools in your city that may offer services at a discount. Signing up for treatment from a dental school means you agree to let a dental student learn by doing your dental work. A good dental school will ensure that a board-certified dentist oversees the student who is providing your services.
No-interest credit card
When used correctly a credit card might act as a way to finance dental work. You might qualify for a credit card with a 0 percent APR introductory rate. If you make regular payments and pay off the amount before the introductory rate ends, you’ll essentially create a payment plan without having to pay more.
Be aware of credit cards with a deferred interest rate. Unlike cards that are truly 0 percent APR, a deferred interest rate starts collecting interest as soon as you have a balance and puts off making you pay that interest for a set amount of time. If you pay off the entire balance within the promotional period, you won’t have to pay that interest, but if you have any balance left after the promo period ends, the interest rate from that time period is added to what you owe.
Use credit cards carefully and as a last resort, as they can become more expensive if not used properly.
For more information about APRs, interest, and deferred interest on credit cards, read more from the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau.
Medicaid and children’s health insurance program (CHIP)
Kids and teens that receive government support for insurance may qualify for help to cover the cost of braces or Invisalign. If your child’s need for orthodontics is clearly hindering their overall health, the work might be covered. Work with your dentist and your insurance representative to make a case and get your child’s needs covered. Cases may differ state by state.
Invisalign is a form of braces that use clear tray aligners. They’re made of Invisalign’s own blend of plastic, and manufactured in their own facilities based on molds of your mouth. The aligners are a solid piece of plastic that is strong enough to put pressure on specific parts of your teeth to slowly move them into a better position.
To get Invisalign, you first need to have a consultation with your dentist. They’ll look at your smile, your overall oral health, and take impressions of your mouth. Then, Invisalign makes their aligners unique to your mouth for a custom fit. Your dentist creates your overall treatment plan and serves as your partner in getting the results you want.
Invisalign uses a series of aligner trays that are replaced every one to two weeks. Each replacement tray will feel slightly different, as it’s designed to continue shifting and moving your teeth.
You need to wear Invisalign trays for most of your day (20–22 hours/day) in order to see results. However, they’re easily removed for eating, brushing, flossing, or for special occasions.
Though it’s a solid piece of plastic, Invisalign aligners are braces, not retainers, because they actively move your teeth to shape your mouth and jaw. Retainers just hold your teeth in place.
Invisalign may be the household name for clear aligner braces, but there are alternatives.
If you’re mostly concerned with appearances, you can ask your doctor about lingual braces, which are installed behind the teeth and can’t be seen when you smile. Lingual braces still use metal, clear, or ceramic brackets but may be cheaper than Invisalign.
In the United States, ClearCorrect is the major competitor of Invisalign. ClearCorrect also uses invisible, plastic aligners. Their aligners are made in the United States.
The ClearCorrect website says their product costs $2,000–$8,000 before insurance, and that insurance may cover $1,000–$3,000 of your treatment.
The Consumer Guide for Dentistry estimates the national average cost for ClearCorrect treatment to be $2,500–$5,500.
Treatment time may be the same as Invisalign, but ClearCorrect is usually cheaper. Of course, cost and timeline all depends on how complex your case is.
In both cases of Invisalign and ClearCorrect, each company is offering their brand of aligner product. Neither Invisalign nor ClearCorrect are actual dentists. Talk with your dentist about what kind of orthodontic appliance is best in your case. Your dentist will order the product and use it as a tool as they work on shaping your smile.
Smile Direct Club
There is also a third option called Smile Direct Club. Smile Direct Club does have a few locations, but they can bypass the dental office visit altogether by offering at-home impression kits. You make a mold of your mouth at home and mail it to Smile Direct Club. Then, you receive your aligners in the mail and use them as directed. Smile Direct Club says their treatment costs only $1,850. Or you can do a monthly payment plan.
This is clearly the cheapest option and may be good for someone who really fears dental offices. However, you’re missing out on the professional consultation, which really is invaluable when you’re talking about oral health and teeth to last you a lifetime. With Smile Direct Club, you never have any direct contact with a licensed dentist. Also, your impressions are reviewed by a dental professional — not necessarily a licensed dentist.
- Will the company pay for additional aligners if you are not satisfied with your results?
- Will the company pay for your retainer after treatment?
- Will one option work better than another in your case?
- Does your insurance cover more for one treatment than another?
As with any orthodontics, you can expect to use a retainer to keep your teeth in their new position after Invisalign works to move them. Retainers can be either removable or cemented to your teeth. They cost $100–$500 per retainer. Usually you have to wear a retainer every day for a while and before you’re allowed to only wear them at night.
Adults who get braces and wear their retainer properly shouldn’t need to repeat braces again. Your mouth is done growing and your body won’t be changing as much as a child or teenager’s body.
Make the most of your investment by wearing your aligners for the prescribed amount of time. Maintain good oral health and keep your teeth clean throughout your treatment process. Wear your retainer as instructed to help your teeth remain in their new positions.
|Invisalign||Traditional braces||ClearCorrect||Smile Direct Club|
|Treatment Time||Worn for 20–22 hours/day. Overall treatment time varies by case.||Cemented onto teeth 24/7. Overall treatment time varies by case.||At least 22 hours/day. Overall treatment time varies by case.||Requires 6 months of treatment time on average.|
|Maintenance||Receive and wear new aligners every couple of weeks. Keep them clean by brushing them and rinsing with water.||Brush teeth while wearing braces and floss or clean between with a tiny interdental brush.||Receive and wear new aligners every couple of weeks. Keep them clean by brushing them and rinsing with water.||Receive and wear new aligners every couple of weeks. Keep them clean by brushing them and rinsing with water.|
|Office visits||Includes an initial consultation, possible check-ups during treatment, and a final consultation.||Includes an initial consultation, regular dentist visits to get braces tightened, and a final removal of braces.||Includes an initial consultation, possible check-ups during treatment, and a final consultation.||Does not require in-person consultation.|
|Aftercare||Requires a retainer to maintain results.||Requires a retainer to maintain results.||Requires a retainer to maintain results.||Requires a retainer to maintain results.|
|Ideal for||Ideal for professionals or anyone who wants to keep their orthodontics discreet.||Good for more complex dental issues. You don’t have to worry about taking them in and out or losing them.||Ideal for professionals or anyone who wants to keep their orthodontics discreet.||Good for people with minor issues who would otherwise not visit a dental office.|