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Cheap Braces: Affordable Low-Income Teeth Straightening Options

Natalie Asmussen
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Natalie Asmussen
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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.

In this article, we'll go through all of your dental financing options when it comes to finding affordable orthodontic braces, including:

Before we get started, you can compare the best dental insurance plans for braces in your area now! Enter your zip code and DOB below to get your free quote.

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Do you need cheap braces?

You need cheap braces if you can't afford expensive ones. 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. This brings us to the need for cheap braces.

Teeth straightening cost

affordable braces
The cost of braces can hurt more than the procedure.

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—read more about Invisalign insurance coverage.

You may want to check if you can get federally funded insurance read more in our article ‘Does Medicaid Cover Braces?‘ Keep in mind that if you have federally funded insurance, it's not likely to cover invisible braces, but you can read more about whether or not Medicaid covers Invisalign.

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.

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.

You can see Smile Change Lives in action by watching the video below:

When asked what the Smiles Change Lives program had meant to her, SCL Participant, Jazzy sent us this video. What a remarkable transformation from a shy teenager to a confident young lady! Smiles Change Lives (SCL) is a nonprofit that helps kids get braces. Since 1997, together with its network of over 700 partner orthodontists, SCL has helped over 16,000 kids across the United States and Canada receive orthodontic treatment they otherwise could not afford. SCL helps kids between the ages of 7-18 with good oral hygiene, and not currently wearing braces, that meet SCL's financial qualification. Find our if you qualify at: https://www.smileschangelives.org/for-kids-and-parents/apply-for-braces/do-you-qualify/

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.

cheap braces
Cheap braces are in high demand

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 to 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.

Good candidates 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!

Clear aligners are a more affordable option
There are so many companies offering affordable, remote teeth straightening with aligners! Take a look at our top picks and discover why we recommend these over any others.
  • Hybrid in-office and remote treatment
  • In-person visits with your orthodontist for safe, effective treatment
  • Treats even complex cases of misalignment
  • Various pricing options
Schedule your appointment!
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Discover the flexibility and effectiveness of Impress Invisible Braces, the hybrid orthodontic solution that blends in-person care with the convenience of remote appointments. Suitable for both kids and adults, Impress offers a range of treatment options designed to cater to various needs, from mild to severe cases of misalignment. With the initial consultation happening in person, you're assured of a tailored treatment plan that can address even the most complex orthodontic issues.

Impress Treatment Plans:

  • Impress Super Light ($6,999): Perfect for mild cases, this plan promises results in up to 3 months, making it the quickest route to a better smile.
  • Impress ($4,599): Designed for moderate cases, this option aims to perfect your smile within 4-10 months.
  • Impress Plus ($5,599): Tailored for moderate cases requiring a bit more time, this plan spans 11-14 months.
  • Impress Advanced ($6,999): The go-to choice for complex cases, offering comprehensive treatment over 11-24 months.
  • Teens ($4,599): Specifically designed for teenagers, this plan addresses mild cases within 4-10 months, ensuring a confident smile during those crucial years.
  • Impress Kids ($4,599): Offering orthodontic treatment for children, this plan covers a period between 8-18 months, setting the foundation for a lifetime of healthy smiles.

With flexible payment plans available, starting your journey to a perfect smile has never been easier or more accessible. Whether you're looking for a quick fix or need extensive treatment, Impress Invisible Braces provide a tailored solution that meets your needs and budget. Click below to get started!

Find out if you're a candidate!
  • 3-4 month average treatment time
  • Assessed and planned by orthodontists
  • Includes whitening and first retainers
  • $1,999 or $70/month
Get faster treatment
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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.

Get 80% off with code SMILEBRYTE
  • Complete treatment 100% remotely
  • Amazing customer service
  • Nighttime-only option
  • $1,495 or $55/month
Get NewSmile aligners
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NewSmile aligners are made from the clearest Essix plastic and come with a daytime or nighttime-only option to suit you. For just $1,495 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 goes 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.

Alternatively, click here for an extra $20 off an impression kit!
  • Single-arch treatment option
  • Nighttime aligners available
  • Free refinements & 2 sets of retainers
  • $699 (single-arch) or $999 (dual-arch)
Check Smileie's offers
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Smileie's aligner treatment is not only affordable, but flexible too. You have the option of single-arch treatment for just your top or bottom teeth, as well as nighttime-only treatment. And whichever package you choose, monthly payments are available.

On top of this, Smileie offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee which includes free refinements if needed. Their aligners are made in the US and treatment takes 4-6 months on average.

Get the best discount when you purchase your aligner package up-front, including:

  • Home impression kit
  • Teeth whitening kit
  • Two sets of retainers
  • A full refund if you're not a good candidate

Packages start at $699 for single-arch treatment. Click below to check for current discounts!

  • Complete treatment 100% remotely
  • 4-6 month average treatment time
  • Nighttime-only option
  • $949 or $77/month
Get this deal
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If you're looking for the best value aligner package, here it is! For just $895 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.

Of those braces mentioned above, the newest brand to enter the market is Smileie. And while they have much in common with Byte, ALIGNERCO, and NewSmile — such as convenient, dentist-monitored treatment at an affordable price — they are also a bit unique.

That's because they give you the option of just ordering a top or bottom aligner, instead of purchasing a set. This is the perfect option for people who only want to fix imperfections in their top teeth or bottom teeth, instead of paying for unwanted straightening in both arches.

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

Pros

Cons

Orthodontic insurance

Can help pay for major orthodontic treatment

Very expensive

Nonprofits

May offer free treatment

Difficult to find

Clear aligners

Many options; convenient and fast treatment

Still expensive and typically only meant for mild to moderate cases

Conclusion

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 by 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 articles about Smileie, CandidALIGNERCO reviewsNewSmile reviewsByte, 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.

FAQs

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 the office so you don't have to pay service fees.

Can you get braces for free?

You can 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?

Braces are so expensive because 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!

Cheap Braces: Affordable Low-Income Teeth Straightening Options
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Sources

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.