How Much Does Teeth Straightening Cost in 2021?

teeth being straightened with braces

If you have crowded, misaligned, or overlapping teeth, it can make you feel self-conscious when you smile. However, these problems are more than just a cosmetic concern. Poorly aligned teeth can trap food particles and be difficult to clean, causing issues such as gum disease and tooth decay to develop over time.

Maybe you have been considering orthodontic treatment for a while but have concerns about the cost. Before pursuing any dental treatments, it is always a good idea to check with your insurance company to see whether it covers the procedure and how much of a benefit you have. Your dentist should provide you with a cost estimate before applying any discounts or insurance coverage. This blog outlines the typical national cost of several teeth straightening options according to for 2021.

Average Cost of Traditional Braces

Several factors influence the cost of traditional braces, including:

  • The severity of your orthodontic issues
  • How long the orthodontist expects you to wear braces
  • Whether you need braces on your upper teeth, lower teeth, or both
  • Whether you need any teeth extracted prior to receiving braces to allow more room for the remaining teeth to shift

When you receive traditional braces, an orthodontist places a metal bracket on each tooth and connects them with a thin wire across the top and bottom rows of teeth. Your orthodontist may also need to place rubber bands on some of the brackets to apply more pressure to the teeth to shift into the desired position. Some patients wear a mouthguard or headgear at night to help speed up the treatment process even more.

Today’s orthodontic patient has more options for traditional braces than they once did. If you do not care for the standard silver color of metal braces, your orthodontist may be able to install brackets with an alternative or clear color. The advantage of clear brackets is that they are not as visible as their metal counterparts. Here are the estimated costs of different types of metal braces for 2021:

  • $1,500 to $10,000 for traditional braces with metal brackets depending on a combination of the above factors
  • $2,000 to $8,500 for braces that do not require patients to wear elastic bands or have clear brackets
  • $5,000 to $13,000 for lingual braces, which are traditional braces with brackets and wire that go behind the teeth rather than on the front surface

Clear Aligners

Orthodontic treatment with clear aligners emerged as an alternative to traditional metal braces approximately 20 years ago. The treatment option was especially popular among adults who wanted to straighten their teeth but did not want to wear brackets and wires that most people associate with teenagers. The clear aligners slip easily over each row of teeth and are undetectable from a distance.

Teeth straightening with aligners requires you to obtain a set of retainers designed for your specific orthodontic issues. You wear the first aligner in the set for approximately two weeks before discarding it and wearing the next one. Orthodontists stress that patients should keep their clear aligners in for 22 to 23 hours a day to ensure they complete their treatment on time. If you select this option, you should only remove your aligners to eat and brush your teeth.

The estimated cost for orthodontic treatment with clear aligners in 2021 is $3,000 to $8,000 with a national average of $5,000. Treatment with clear aligners tends to take less time than traditional metal braces, but the option may not be appropriate for people with severe overbite or underbite issues.

For further research, check out our list of the best clear aligner companies, that takes a closer look at companies like Byte.

Other Teeth Straightening Options

Cosmetic tooth contouring can correct minor issues to front teeth by removing a small amount of tooth enamel and reshaping the teeth. The cost ranges from $50 to $500 per tooth depending on the amount of work involved, geographic region, and dentist experience. Dental insurance companies typically consider tooth contouring a cosmetic procedure and do not cover it. The one exception is if a dentist deems the contouring medically necessary due to an injury or accident.

For problems related to a minor overbite, dentists can usually correct them with a specialty retainer rather than braces. Cost of the retainer ranges from $500 to $2,500 depending on the complexity of the overbite issue.

Paying for Orthodontic Treatment

Most dental insurance companies do not provide any orthodontic coverage for patients over the age of 19. Your orthodontist should be able to direct you to low-interest or zero-interest financing options to help spread out the payments. Additionally, you can use funds you have invested in a Health Savings Account (HSA) to pay any out-of-pocket costs for dental treatment.