Finding Cheap Braces: Options & Comparisons

Medically Reviewed by a
Licensed DDS

Table of Contents

  1. Using Insurance Wisely
  2. Shopping Around
  3. Try Dental Schools
  4. Choosing the Right Options
  5. References

You may know you need to address your smile. But when you look in your pocketbook, you don't see money you can apply to your dental health.

Finding cheap braces can take time, legwork, and persistence. But the money you save could make all of your hard work worthwhile.

Save money on braces by:

  1. Using your insurance benefits wisely.
  2. Shopping around for the best price.
  3. Booking an appointment with a dental school.
  4. Choosing the right tooth straightening option.

Let's explain all of these ideas in detail.

Use Your Insurance Benefits Wisely

Each month, you pay a premium to protect your teeth. Put that plan to work to help cover the cost of your braces, but check the fine print carefully.

Most dental insurance plans use something called a network to keep prices low. The administrators sign contracts with orthodontists, and they agree on how much treatments will cost consumers and how much the plan will pay.

Insurance companies will tell you that you will pay more if you choose a provider that's outside of your network. You'll see those disclosures on documents like this one. Pay close attention. If you choose a non-participating orthodontist, you may pay the entire cost of your treatment out of pocket. That's far from cheap.

Your dental plan may only cover part of the cost of care, even if you're working with a network professional. For example, a plan from Tufts covers just half of the cost of braces, and if your care costs more than $1,500, you must pay the balance.

Ensure that you understand how your plan works. Ask your orthodontist for help, if needed. Never assume your insurance will make your braces cheap.

Shop Around for the Best Price

Researchers discuss the average cost of braces. Those figures can be helpful as you plan, but know that the costs can vary greatly from provider to provider.

On average, traditional braces cost $4,500. But someone with few patients and high overhead might charge you less just to get customers through the door. Similarly, a professional with many patients might charge you more since competition isn't a problem.

Before you settle on a provider, ask about:

  • Payment plans. Paying for braces with a credit card can lead to high fees and plenty of heartache. Paying a set amount with an orthodontist could save you money if that professional offers a low interest rate.
  • Discounts for cash payments. If you've saved up for braces, put that money to work. Some professionals will shave money off your final bill if you can tackle the total all at once with cash.
  • Need-based grants. If you need dental care but have no way to pay for it, your dental professional may offer low-cost programs that can help.
  • Special offers. Some orthodontists use programs like Groupon to entice new patients to join them. They're not legal or advised for dentists in all states, but they're widely available in others.

Don't be afraid to ask about your options before you sign on as a patient. Most orthodontists have practice managers who are happy to explain how payments work, and they can help ensure that you get the lowest price possible.

Everyone wants to save money, and it's possible to find cheap braces, but prepare to do a lot of legwork and research before selecting a company you can trust.

Try Dental Schools

Orthodontists spend years learning about their craft, and they need patients for practice sessions. Some dental schools open up clinics on campus, and savvy shoppers could get an excellent deal here.

Costs at a dental school can vary. For example, one school has a three-tiered program that includes:

  • Student clinics. In this very low-cost option, you'll get dental care from students while they're supervised by their teachers.
  • Graduate student clinics. In this moderately priced option, you'll work with advanced students under the supervision of their teachers.
  • Faculty clinics. You'll pay prices comparable to private clinics as you work with teachers only.

Factor in travel time and expenses as you plot out your budget. If you live hours from the closest school, the money you save on braces may not exceed what you pay to get to your orthodontist.

But if you live close to a school, this could be an excellent way to save money while getting the smile you've always wanted.

Choose the Right Tooth Straightening Option

You may walk into an orthodontist's office believing that braces are your only choice. But know that you have plenty of solutions available, and some can save you a great deal of money.

For example, metal braces attached to the front of your teeth and connected with metal wires are both traditional and cost-effective. As we mentioned, braces like this cost about $4,500 on average. More expensive options include:

  • Ceramic braces. Tooth-colored brackets are harder to spot, but prepare to pay up to $8,500 for them.
  • Lingual braces. Brackets and wires placed behind your teeth are even harder for outsiders to see, but they can cost you up to $13,000.

At byte, we know that paying for dental care isn't easy. But we also know that everyone wants a better smile. That's why we offer effective, doctor-supervised smile treatments you can do at home.

We're one of the least expensive options available, and we take dental insurance payments too. Find out more about who we are, and you'll see we're right for you.

References

Orthodontic Coverage. Delta Dental.

Understanding Your Orthodontic Benefits. Tuft's Health Plan.

Lessons From Telemedicine and Teledentistry and Tele-Orthodontics. (July 2020). UCLA Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture.

Dental Practice Fees: Is Social Couponing an Asset or a Liability for Your Practice? Henry Schein.

How Much Does It Cost? University of Michigan School of Dentistry.

How Much Do Braces Cost? CostHelper.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to serve as dental or other professional health advice and is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or symptom. You should consult a dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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