How much will orthodontic braces cost each month without insurance, and how much lower will it be with coverage?

Average figures can provide families with a starting point estimate that can help you establish a budget. However, the amount you wind up paying could be very different because of the many variables.

The total price of straightening teeth starts at $1,200 and ranges to $10,000 depending on the severity of malocclusion and type of appliance you choose.

Then, your ability to spread payments out over time depends on your borrowing qualifications. Plus, dental plans (if you have one) have all kinds of expense sharing components.  

Cost of Braces without Insurance

The average cost of orthodontic braces per month without dental insurance is a meaningless figure. The wide range in prices for each appliance choice, the complexity in treating different cases, and the possible configurations for spreading expenses out over time lead to a different amount for every smile.

Then, eligibility for possible financial assistance could dramatically affect your out-of-pocket expenses. These programs are tough to find but worth a bundle if you are lucky enough to qualify.

Payment Setup

The payment plan arrangements that you make influence your cost of braces per month without insurance. Every person has different credit qualifications and can make choices that will affect the amount owed each period.

For illustration purposes, we fix the three main factors that can affect your final monthly amount and use these figures throughout the article.

  • Down Payment: 15%
  • Number of Installments: 24
  • Interest Rate: 15%

Also, many families choose to utilize outside financing to fund the down payment, which would increase the amount owed every period. For the sake of simplicity, we ignored this option in the illustrations that follow.

Appliance Types

The type of appliance that patients or parents chose also affects their monthly cost of braces without insurance. Many people prefer more expensive treatments because they want the hardware to be less visible to others.

Clear

The costs of invisible or transparent braces depend on whether you choose to work through your local orthodontist or go with a centralized direct-to-consumer option.

Direct-to-Consumer

Direct-to-consumer companies provide the most affordable solution for clear braces by cutting out the middle man – your local orthodontist. The final prices for this new, cutting-edge alternative fit a narrow range for patients with basic needs.

CompanyTotal PricePer Month

Alignerco

$1,145

$47

Byte

$1,895

$78

Candid

$2,400

$99

Smile Direct Club

$1,950

$80

Invisalign

Invisalign distributes its clear braces solution through a network of affiliated orthodontists who supervise the process. The final price for an Invisalign solution depends on your case’s complexity and the fact that a trained professional provides oversight.[1]

Total PricePer Month

$3,400

$140

$4,800

$198

$7,100

$293

Traditional

The final price of traditional braces will also depend on the type of material you choose and positioning. Patients who do not want to go years with tinsel teeth (metal) sometimes choose more expensive solutions that match to color (ceramic) or set on the back of your choppers (lingual)

TypeTotal PricePer Month

Metal

$3,000 to $7,000

$124 to $288

Gold

$3,200 to $7,300

$132 to $301

Ceramic

$4,000 to $8,000

$164 to $127

Lingual

$8,000 to $10,000

$329 to $412

Case Complexity

Your case’s complexity is the critical factor creating the broad range of final prices set by orthodontists for treatment without insurance. Your malocclusion severity and type dictate the number of adjustments and the length of time needed to straighten your smile.

  • Overcrowding: lack of space in the jaw
  • Overjet: top incisors protrude horizontally
  • Overbite: top incisors bite into gums
  • Underbite: bottom teeth overlap the top
  • Spacing: too much room between teeth
  • Hypodontia: missing teeth
  • Diastema: a large gap between two incisors

Cost of Braces with Insurance

The average price of orthodontic braces per month with insurance is also a meaningless figure for all of the factors already noted. Plus, each dental plan has a unique set of features that affects what each family ultimately must pay out-of-pocket.

However, an example dental plan with orthodontic benefits covering $1,800 of expenses provides a useful illustration for budgeting estimates.  

TypePatient OwesPer Month

Invisalign

$1,600 to $5,300

$66 to $218

Metal

$1,200 to $5,200

$49 to $214

Gold

$1,400 to $5,500

$58 to $256

Ceramic

$2,200 to $6,200

$91 to $256

Lingual

$6,200 to $8,200

$256 to $338

Medicaid

The cost of braces each month with Medicaid insurance will be all over the map. Each state determines what benefits to include or exclude, eligibility based on income, and other rules relating to orthodontic coverage.

  • Medicaid covers adults and children with medically necessary reasons to straighten teeth, which includes non-biting accidents, and some diseases
  • Medicaid covers children in most states who have a “handicapping or functional malocclusion” according to a point scoring system and or judgemental criteria
  • Medicaid pays for elective treatment for adults over 21 in only two regions: Oregon and the District of Columbia
  • Medicaid maximum allowable copayment rules for non-institutional care depend on household income relative to the federal poverty level[2]
    • Under 100% – $4
    • 100 – 150% – 10% of agency expense
    • Above 150% – 20% of agency expense
  • Some states disallow orthodontists to balance bill patients above any amount reimbursed by Medicaid for any related service

Adults

The cost per month of braces for adults with dental insurance is typically much higher because the coverage often ends at a specified age, and treatment tends to fall into higher price ranges.

First, many adults with a dental plan that includes orthodontic coverage find the benefits end at age 18 or 21. These limits are widespread, which means that older individuals must pay out-of-pocket and lose in-network price protection.

Second, adult jaws have matured and hardened, making it more difficult for orthodontic appliances to reposition teeth. In other words, the treatments last longer and require additional adjustments, which can translate into higher prices.

Kids

The monthly cost of braces with insurance for children is slightly lower than average. Early teens are less likely to encounter age limits, and families with several kids can multiply the benefit with a single premium.

First, most orthodontic insurance plans pay benefits in installments rather than an upfront lump sum. Children starting in their early teen years should complete treatment well before the age limit kicks in, stopping claim payments.

Second, families pay a single insurance premium regardless of the number of children in their household – parents with a large brood of teenagers needing orthodontia max out the benefits.  

Final Thoughts

In summary, many factors determine the cost per month for dental braces, and average figures provide a rough starting point at best. Families have to dig deeply into the details to get a precise answer of what they must pay out-of-pocket.

Patients without insurance can save money by choosing a direct-to-consumer company or opting for tinsel teeth instead of pricier alternatives. Families with orthodontic coverage should understand how their benefits work and choose an in-network provider.

Footnoted Sources:

[1] Invisalign Total Price Estimates

[2] Medicaid Copayment Rules