If you're here it's because you're wondering, “Are there cheap braces, and where can I find them?” The good news is, yes, you can find affordable braces and there are various ways to go about doing so.
Some of the ways include orthodontic insurance, nonprofits, or dental discount plans. But one of the best ways to find affordable braces is to consider at-home clear aligners, which can be used to straighten mild to moderate cases of teeth and jaw misalignment, also known as ‘malocclusion' in the dentistry world.
In this article, we'll go through all of your dental financing options when it comes to finding affordable orthodontic braces, including:
And then we'll briefly go over your mail-order cheap braces options as well. Let's get started!
Table of contents
- 1 Do you need cheap braces?
- 2 Teeth straightening cost
- 3 How to get braces for cheap
- 4 Summary of ways to get braces for cheap
- 5 Conclusion
- 6 FAQs
Do you need cheap braces?
Not everyone who has crooked teeth needs to have braces. However, misaligned teeth could actually negatively impact your health. That's because crooked teeth can:
- Increase your likelihood of gum disease: It's more difficult to clean between your teeth, allowing plaque to build up.
- Cause faster wear: A crooked bottom tooth could rub against a top tooth, or vice versa, causing loss of enamel, increased sensitivity, and an even higher risk of decay.
- Make chewing difficult: If you have a misaligned jaw, you may not be able to chew your food thoroughly, which could result in problems with digestion.
- Cause bad breath: Since it's harder to clean the plaque off your teeth, all of that bacteria could cause bad breath.
If you have crooked teeth but they aren't causing you any negative side effects, orthodontic care may not be necessary for your physical health. In these cases, as the director of orthodontics at Boston Children’s Hospital cites in this Huffpost article, the need for braces can become somewhat subjective.
But, there's also your emotional health, including self-confidence, to think about. We live in a society where, whether you like it or not, looks matter, and a perfect smile can help a lot in both your professional and social life. Some people are perfectly fine with having their own unique smile with endearing flaws, but many of us wouldn't mind having straighter teeth. The only problem is that braces can be really expensive. Which brings us to the need for cheap braces.
Teeth straightening cost
Standard metal braces can cost anywhere from $2,500 to $7,500, and if you opt for ceramic (clear in color and more discreet) or lingual (brackets attach to the backs of your teeth for lower visibility), you can tack another $1,000 or so on to that price.
For many adults and older teens, the first choice is Invisalign because it can treat up to 90% of orthodontic cases and because they aren't actually braces; rather, they are clear (or invisible) aligners.
Before you get excited about this option though, you better have your checkbook ready because Invisalign can cost anywhere from $3,500 to $8,500.
How to get braces for cheap
Getting braces isn't cheap, but are there ways to find more affordable orthodontic procedures? There certainly are! Read on as we take a look at some of the options for cheap braces.
Cheap braces with orthodontic insurance
Orthodontic insurance is available for purchase, usually as an add-on to your dental insurance. If your dentist or orthodontist had advised that you need traditional braces for medical reasons, you may find that taking out an orthodontic insurance policy helps you save some money. You can read more about finding dental insurance for cheap braces in our full guide here. Some providers may even partially cover clear aligners—reader more about Invisalign insurance coverage.
Another option that is like insurance is the dental discount plan. These are not insurance plans; there's no deductible or yearly maximum, but there is a membership fee you pay. In exchange, you may be able to get a braces discount. To learn more about discount plans for affordable braces, you can take a look at our article.
Cheap braces with nonprofits
There are many dental and orthodontic nonprofits around the country that may offer cheaper braces for adults and children. Some operate nationwide, while others are specific to an area. The best way to find out about nonprofits that offer free braces for adults and children in your area is to contact your local health center and make an inquiry. For now, have a look at two orthodontic-specific nonprofits that operate nationwide.
Smile for a Lifetime
Smile for a Lifetime is a nonprofit organization that matches children who need cheap orthodontic treatment with practitioners around the country who want to provide free care. They prioritize affordable braces for low-income families and free braces for low-income adults, children, teens, and young adults considered to be at risk. For more information about affordable braces with this program, head to smileforalifetime.org.
You can see Smile for a Lifetime in action in Katelyn's story below.
Smiles Change Lives
Smiles Change Lives is another nonprofit organization that matches children with orthodontists around the country who are willing to provide cheap orthodontic treatment for little to no cost. Families are asked to donate what they can to the program so that children in the future can benefit as well. To see if your child is eligible for cheap braces through this program, you can go to their website smileschangelives.org.
The cheapest braces: At-home clear aligners
Clear aligners with remote treatment are part of a booming market expected to reach $5.58 billion by 2027. They are by far the most affordable way to straighten teeth safely and effectively apart from charitable programs. There are a variety of clear aligner brands you can choose from depending on your budget, time restrictions, and treatment preferences.
Clear aligners are a series of transparent plastic trays that fit around your teeth. Each tray is designed to take you a step further in your teeth straightening treatment, and you change them once every two weeks in most cases. Invisalign is one of the most well-known clear aligners on the market, but Invisalign is an in-office option, meaning you have regular in-person visits with your dentist. In fact, they can cost more than traditional braces. Another in-office option is Six Month Smiles braces, which offer both aligners and braces. But these also start their pricing around $3,000. So for our purposes, we'll focus on at-home aligners.
Regardless of the brand you choose for your treatment, the process for at-home aligners is generally the same all around:
- Impressions: You can order your impression kit online and once it arrives in the mail, take molds of your teeth. You then send these molds into your clear aligner company so they can analyze them and decide if you are a candidate for treatment.
- Receive your aligners: If you are a candidate for clear aligner treatment, your aligners will be made in a lab and sent to you all at once. As soon as they arrive on your doorstep, you can begin treatment.
- Remote supervision: While you straighten your teeth, you'll check in periodically (virtually) with a dentist or orthodontist to ensure that everything is going according to plan, until you finish your treatment.
- Retainers: As with any kind of orthodontics, after your treatment is completed, you'll need to wear retainers at night so your teeth don't move back into their original positions.
Some brands, like Smile Direct Club, have physical locations where you can go to meet with a representative in person and get 3D scans of your teeth and an in-person consultation, both of which are usually included in the price. 3D scans are taken instead of the molds you would take at home if you ordered an impression kit, and they are said to be more accurate than molds.
Are you a good candidate for cheap braces?
There are several brands that we recommend over others when it comes to affordable at-home clear aligner treatment. Have a look!
- Complete treatment 100% remotely
- Amazing customer service
- Nighttime-only option
- $1,395 or $83/month
NewSmile aligners are made from the clearest Essix plastic and come with a daytime or nighttime-only option to suit you. For just $1,395 you'll receive everything you need to straighten and whiten your teeth – and maintain your new smile:
- Home impression kit
- Full aligner treatment
- Free whitening
- First set of retainers
- A full refund if you're not a good fit
NewSmile go above and beyond to provide a great experience to all their customers, beginning with a live video call to help you with your teeth impressions. Mail these back, and they'll send a 3D Treatment Preview for you to approve before going ahead.
- Complete treatment 100% remotely
- 6 month average treatment time
- Nighttime-only option
- $1,145 or $95/month
If you're looking for the best value aligner package, here it is! For just $1,145 you'll get:
- Impression kit
- Full aligner treatment course
- Free teeth whitening kit
- Your first set of retainers
In short, everything needed to straighten your teeth remotely and keep them looking great, with a full money-back guarantee if you're not a suitable candidate.
This low price doesn't mean you're compromising on quality of care, though. ALIGNERCO just choose not to put so much into marketing, and they pass on the savings to their customers. They are also known for their responsive and helpful customer care, which is important when you're doing things from home.
Plus, if you're in New York, you can visit their SmileStudio for a free consultation and help taking your impressions.
Nighttime-only aligners are also available for anyone who doesn't want to wear aligners during the day.
- 3-4 month average treatment time
- Assessed and planned by orthodontists
- Includes whitening and first retainers
- $1,895 or $83/month
Byte's HyperByte technology uses High Frequency Vibration to help your teeth move faster and with minimal discomfort. Their average treatment time is just 3-4 months, compared to 6 months for most others.
Treatment includes your first set of retainers. You'll also get their BrightByte 3-in-1 foam to whiten your teeth, clean your aligners and freshen your breath. And their Byte-for-life guarantee means you'll get free adjustments if your teeth start to move again.
Begin by ordering an impression kit so their orthodontists can assess whether you're a good match.
Check your eligibility
Before you jump to the conclusion that at-home clear aligners are the best option for you, keep in mind that this sort of treatment is only meant for people with mild to moderate cases of malocclusion (teeth and jaw misalignment).
The exception is Uniform Teeth (read Uniform Teeth reviews), which can treat more complex cases with their Level 3 treatment; however, this costs $4,950. If you are looking for cheap braces for adults without insurance and you only need mild straightening, clear aligners may be a good option. Take a free online assessment now to find out if you're eligible!
Summary of ways to get braces for cheap
To summarize the various ways of finding cheap braces, have a look at the table below:
Ways to save
Can help pay for major orthodontic treatment
May offer free treatment
Difficult to find
Many options; convenient and fast treatment
Still expensive and typically only meant for mild to moderate cases
If you're looking for affordable braces, you have a few options to consider. You can try looking at orthodontic insurance for cheap braces If that's not an option for you because of insurance prices, you'll need to look for cheap braces without insurance.
In that case, try looking for opportunities with nonprofits, or you can consider at-home clear aligners. Each option comes with its own pros and cons, so you'll have to make the decision based on your expectations for budget and treatment time.
You'll also need to think about things like if it's important for you that your treatment is planned and monitored exclusively with orthodontists and if you want to have in-person supervision.
If you are interested in clear aligners as a cheaper alternative to traditional braces, take a look at our reviews of Candid, ALIGNERCO, NewSmile reviews, Byte, and Smile Direct Club to see which would be most suitable for you.
Once you've finished treatment with clear aligners, you will need to wear a retainer. If you're looking for quality but cheap retainer options, consider getting yours custom-made through Sporting Smiles.
The process is very similar to that of clear aligners—you order your impression kit online, take your impressions at home, and then a professional technician crafts your retainers in the lab.
If you use promo code SMILE10 you can get 10% off your aligners!
If you aren't able to find cheaper braces that work for you, speak with your orthodontist about a payment plan. That way, you can divide your payments up into manageable chunks each month.
Whatever you decide to do, make sure you choose a provider you trust and keep in mind that the cheapest orthodontist may not be the best option for everyone.
What is the cheapest way to get braces for adults?
The cheapest way to get braces is with at-home or mail-order clear aligners. These aligners don't require you to meet your dentist or orthodontist in office so you don't have to pay service fees.
Can you get braces for free?
Children who are eligible for Medicaid may get braces for free, depending on the state you live in. Adults who want braces for free will have to look for nonprofits with orthodontic programs.
Why are braces so expensive?
Aligning teeth is a complicated process that requires specialized tools and years of education. The materials used in braces and aligners may not be so expensive on their own. Instead, it's the process of planning your treatment does take time and money. That's why it can be so difficult to find an affordable orthodontist.
What are the cheapest braces?
The cheapest braces that offer safe and effective treatment are ALIGNERCO. They work with orthodontists to supervise your treatment, and at just $1,145, they really are the cheapest braces around!
Fortunebusinessinsights.com: Clear aligners market size, share & Covid-19 impact analysis. Consulted 19th September 2020.
Huffpost.com: Who needs braces? Socially-necessary vs. medically-necessary treatment. Consulted 19th September 2020.