What's the Cheapest Way to Straighten Your Teeth?
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Table of Contents
- Lingual Braces
- Ceramic Braces
- Metal Braces
- Night-Only Byte Aligners
- All-Day Byte Aligners
- Financing Options
- Risking Your Health
You're ready to invest in a better smile, but you don't want to pay a dime more than you must. You're in luck!
Plenty of low-cost options exist that can straighten your teeth and highlight your smile. But you must choose carefully, as some methods aren't right for everyone, and others can leave you with residual damage.
The cheapest way to straighten your teeth is generally with at-home aligners. These typically cost $2,000 to $5,000, but some options, like byte, cost as little as $1,895.
We'll walk through all of your straight-teeth options here, so you can make the decision that's right for your mouth. We've ordered methods by cost from high to low.
Lingual Braces: $9,000
Wires and brackets typically sit on the front of your teeth when you opt for braces. Choose lingual versions instead, and all the hardware will sit on the back of your teeth. No one will see your braces when you smile.
Lingual braces take time to apply, and every appointment takes longer too. All of that extra work adds to your final bill.
Expect to pay about $9,000 for lingual braces. This is one of the most expensive tooth-straightening options out there.
Ceramic Braces: $6,000
You don't want people to see your metal braces, but you're not prepared to pay the high fees associated with a lingual application. Ceramic braces could be a good choice.
Your dentist uses brackets that are white, just like your teeth. Wires connect the brackets and pull your smile into the right shape. The mechanism is the same, whether you choose metal or ceramics. But the look of your mouth during treatment is different.
Prepare to pay about $6,000 for ceramic braces. And you might pay more if your delicate brackets are damaged by:
- Food. Hard candies, crispy chips, and sticky gum can all loosen your brackets, even causing them to come off your teeth.
- Drinks. Ice floating in your sips can bump against your brackets and damage them.
- Injuries. If you play sports and an errant ball or elbow hits your mouth, your braces could take the hit and break.
Anytime your team must fix your braces, you must pay. And since ceramic is less durable than metal, repairs are more common with this type of application.
Slide plastic trays over your teeth to straighten them, and visit your dentist often for checkups and new trays. That's the treatment model for Invisalign. While it's effective, it can also be expensive.
Dentists and orthodontists have overhead charges. They must keep their offices clean and staffed, and they must stock products for their visitors. Choose Invisalign, and all of those costs are tacked to your treatment plan. Prepare to pay about $5,500 for Invisalign.
Metal Braces: $4,500
Let a medical professional glue metal brackets to the front of your teeth and connect them with wires. People have used this tooth-straightening method for years, and while it's unsightly and uncomfortable, it can be remarkably effective.
People who opt for braces often have significant dental health problems, such as:
- Missing teeth. Neighboring molars move into the gaps left behind, and teams must pull these wanderers back into position.
- Densely crowded teeth. The mouth doesn't have enough space for all of the teeth involved. Some are pulled, and the rest are pushed into the right spots.
- Injuries. A blow severed some teeth at the roots, or some teeth are loose due to an underlying jaw problem.
Metal braces can fix these issues, but orthodontists must supervise the work very carefully. Each appointment adds to your final bill. Prepare to pay $4,500 for traditional braces.
Night-Only Byte Aligners: $2,295
We utilize telemedicine at Byte to keep costs low. Our customers still have exceptional care from trained dental professionals. But we skip the overhead associated with in-person visits. Our night-only aligners are one product line we offer.
Wear your aligners for at least 10 continuous hours, and let your teeth feel free during the day. This option is best for people with mildly crooked teeth. We send you plenty of aligners, so you can stay on track with your treatment. Prepare to pay $2,295 for Byte at Night™.
All-Day Byte Aligners: $1,895
Keep your teeth in treatment during the majority of your day and night. Take the aligner trays out while you’re cleaning or caring for your oral health, but wear the trays at all other times.
We’ve honed and refined this model to keep costs as low as possible. Prepare to pay $1,895 for this version of aligners.
You've had braces or aligners before, and you were sent home with trays to keep your teeth in their new positions. You could, in some cases, use these devices to help straighten your teeth.
If you took care of your retainers, they might cost you nothing at all. But it's likely you'll pay about $300 for retainers because most people lose them due to:
- Poor storage. If you keep your retainers in sunlight or hot conditions, the plastic could warp or melt.
- Accidents. Stepping on your retainer could break it, and that could make it unusable.
- Tooth movement. If you haven't worn your retainer in months or years, you could break it while trying to slide it over your teeth.
Retainers won't work for everyone’s teeth, but if your teeth are only slightly crooked and your retainer still fits, this could be a good choice.
Financing Options for Teeth Straightening
Many orthodontist offices and at-home aligner companies offer financing to make the process of paying for treatment easier. Essentially, the cost of your teeth straightening will be spread out over a longer period of time, often in manageable monthly payments.
You may also be able to use your flexible spending account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA) to pay for your orthodontic treatment. In most cases, you can use these accounts to cover eligible orthodontic care.
Don’t Risk Your Health
You want straighter teeth, and you also want to save money. Should you try DIY approaches to save money? It's not usually a good idea.
For example, some people slip rubber bands on their teeth and tighten them to move their teeth together. This could lead to deep infections, as the bands could ride up your teeth and into your gums. You could end up paying more in restorative dental care than you ever planned to spend.
Some people also look for braces on the black market, and they put them on at home. These aren't medical devices, and they could trigger infections that sit beneath your gums and again call for medical care.
Lessons From Telemedicine for Teledentistry and Tele-Orthodontics. (July 2020). UCLA.
Retainers Cost. Costhelper.
Woman Uses Rubber Bands, Hair Elastics as DIY Braces. (February 2015). ABC News.
Teeth Straightening: Don't Do It Yourself. (September 2015). University of Utah.
Health Savings vs. Flexible Spending Account: What's the Difference? (June 2021). Investopedia.