These days, people who need braces have a variety of options, from traditional metal braces, to clear braces, to aligners. Invisalign is a brand of aligners that has recently gained popularity because people can get their teeth straightened without the need for visible appliances in their mouth. Patients who are considering the various types of braces from Central Texas Orthodontics in Austin, TX, need to know how much each solution costs per month to make an informed decision.
How Much Is Invisalign a Month?
The Brand’s Cost Estimate
On the Invisalign website, the brand states that the treatment can cost between $3,000 and $7,000, depending on how many months a patient is required to wear the aligners. Everyone’s needs are different, so there is no one single price per month for this treatment. For instance, a patient who needs aligners for 18 months (the typical minimum) is going to pay less per month than someone who needs the aligners for 30 months (the typical maximum).
The cost per month for this treatment also depends on whether your dental insurance pays a portion of the cost. The more your insurance pays, the less you’ll have to pay out of your own pocket, thereby reducing your cost per month. Additionally, you enter into a payment agreement that may not correspond with how many months you actually need treatment, so you could pay off the balance before you’re finished straightening your teeth.
The Consumer Guide for Dentistry’s Cost Estimate
The Consumer Guide for Dentistry states that the average overall cost in the United States for these aligners is between $3,000 and $5,000, so the $7,000 mentioned on the brand’s website is probably an outlier, and you’ll likely pay less than that. However, only an orthodontist can provide the actual amount you’ll pay for your treatment because it’s dependent on an individual’s teeth-straightening needs. Plus, the amount you pay per month is also dependent on several factors, including insurance payments.
Cost Per Month Examples
Most dental insurance plans that cover teeth straightening treatments do so at 50% to a $1,500 cap. So, if your orthodontist says you need to be in aligners for 18 months at a total cost of $3,000 (the lowest price possible), your out-of-pocket cost would be $1,500, as that’s both 50% of the total cost and the maximum insurance covers. Financing plans differ, but a common term is 24 months, so you would pay $62.50 per month for your treatment.
If your orthodontist indicates you need aligners for 30 months (the maximum) at a total cost of $5,000 (the high end of the U.S. average), and your insurance pays 50% to a maximum of $1,500, your out-of-pocket cost would be $3,500, which is the total cost of the treatment minus the insurance payment. At a common financing term of 24 months, you’d pay $146.00 per month. Extending the term to 36 months would lower your monthly payment to $97.00.
Of course, these examples assume you do not have to pay interest on the amount you are financing. Many clinics offer 0% interest financing plans for braces, which would keep your monthly payment as low as possible. If you have to get financing through another source besides a clinic, you will probably have to pay interest as well, increasing both the overall cost of your treatment and your monthly payments.
Cost Comparison With Traditional Braces
The cost of Invisalign treatment is comparable to that of traditional braces, and in fact, some orthodontists charge exactly the same for either treatment method. However, in some cases, aligners are more expensive, but it will really depend on how many sets of aligners you’ll need to complete your treatment. Traditional braces are usually only placed on the teeth one time unless a bracket breaks, which lowers the cost of materials when compared to a large number of aligners.
At any given time, your orthodontist may offer a discount on the Invisalign treatment, along with a complimentary initial consultation and examination. Check with your orthodontist to see if they are running a special such as $500 off the treatment and two free retainers, which is a common deal that providers offer their patients. If you wait until a discount like this is offered, you can save money overall and lower your monthly payment as well.
As with traditional braces, you will need to have a retainer after your teeth move into their final position. The cost of your retainer may not be included in the initial cost of your treatment because not everyone needs retainers on both the top and bottom; however, this won’t be known until close to the end. Retainers cost between $100.00 and $500.00 each, so you’ll need to add that cost to your overall price for the most accurate quote.
Ways To Pay for Teeth-Straightening Treatments
As already mentioned, one of the most popular ways to pay for teeth-straightening treatment such as Invisalign is through interest-free financing. Most orthodontics clinics offer payment plans that will not tack on interest, but not all do. You can also seek financing through a bank or credit union in the form of a personal loan. Keep in mind that you’ll have to pay interest based on the current rates and that you’ll need good credit to qualify.
Flexible Spending Account
A Flexible Spending Account or FSA is an employer-offered benefit that allows you to set aside up to $2,750 of pretax dollars from your salary to spend on healthcare expenses. You’re given a debit card to pay expenses directly from your FSA account. You must use your entire balance before the end of each year because it doesn’t roll over to the next year, so spending it on braces is a wise move if you haven’t had other healthcare claims.
Health Savings Account
A Health Savings Account or HSA is similar to an FSA in that it is an employer-offered benefit that permits you to set aside up to $3,600 for an individual or $7,200 for a family of pretax dollars to spend on healthcare expenses. The difference between an FSA and an HSA is that an HSA allows you to roll over your balance from year-to-year, but you must also have a high-deductible health insurance plan as well.
A credit card may be your last resort payment option for braces or other teeth-straightening solutions, but if you can obtain one that offers an introductory rate of 0%, it might be a great way to keep your monthly payments low. The average monthly minimum credit card payment in the U.S. is about $124.00, so you may be able to get a lower monthly payment through a 0% credit card than through a payment plan, though there are some risks.
With a 0% introductory rate on a credit card, you have to make a purchase using that card within a certain time frame from when you obtain the card. Therefore, you don’t want to get such a card before you’re billed for the treatment. Otherwise, you’ll end up paying interest on the charges. Additionally, if you’re late on a payment, the credit card will assess interest on any charges made during the introductory period, so use this method with caution.
Eat What You Want
This benefit of Invisalign is probably the number one most-often cited benefit for teenagers, but even adults appreciate this perk. They have heard about the food restrictions in place for traditional braces, which include gum, hard candy, chewy candy, nuts, popcorn, ice, hard breads, and chips, among others. However, with aligners, you simply take them out when you want to eat, so you’re not restricted from eating anything during the treatment period.
Be aware that drinking certain beverages while you have your aligners in can stain them, including tea, coffee, soda, and wine. It is recommended that you remove your aligners if you want to drink one of these beverages. Otherwise, you should only drink water or clear fluids that won’t stain your aligners while you’re wearing them. However, if you can stand the stains for a couple of weeks, there’s no need to restrict what you drink, either.
Adults who choose aligners over traditional braces often do so because they’re practically invisible. The aligner trays used in this treatment are clear, and they’re molded to your teeth, so unless you point them out to people, no one will even know you’re wearing them. You can also remove the aligners for special occasions, even though it’s not recommended that you do this often, as it will increase the overall time you have to wear them.
There is an added benefit to the low-visibility of clear aligner trays, which is self-confidence. Most people associate braces with that awkward time in your life when you thought you were unattractive because of the metal in your mouth. With nearly invisible aligners, your self-confidence will not take a hit. While wearing your aligners, you’ll be able to continue to do everything you do now, but you’ll also be working toward that gorgeous smile you’ve always wanted.
Continue Your Daily Activities
People who participate in sports or play a musical instrument find that aligner trays are more convenient than traditional braces. With traditional braces, if an athlete gets hit in the mouth, they’ll likely experience cuts from the sharp metal in their mouth. With plastic aligners, though, there are no sharp edges to cause an injury. Musicians often have to smooth out their braces with wax so they can play their instrument, but not with aligners, which are already smooth.
Easy To Clean
If you’ve ever known someone who has worn traditional braces, you know that they can be difficult to clean. Many patients end up investing in a water jet cleaning system to clean between the brackets because brushing and flossing are not always adequate enough to completely clean them. With aligners, you simply take them out and brush and floss your teeth as normal, and the trays are cleaned by brushing as well. No hassle, and no extra equipment expenses.
You will want to make sure you brush and floss your teeth before you re-insert your aligners after you eat a meal or a snack to make sure food does not get trapped between your teeth and the aligners. Even though the food will probably not be trapped long enough to cause a cavity, it’s still not good for your teeth to have bacteria feeding on trapped food for any amount of time.
Traditional braces are uncomfortable, as they must be tightened at regular intervals to straighten the teeth. There are also broken brackets and wires to contend with that can poke your mouth and gums, making them even more painful. Aligners don’t have any of these issues because there are no brackets or wires, and they move your teeth so incrementally that they’re significantly more comfortable. They conform to your teeth so closely that they won’t rub against your gums, either.
You also won’t have to deal with headgear, rubber bands, or other dental appliances that often accompany traditional braces. This makes aligners more comfortable to wear as well since you won’t need to worry about these other appliances causing you pain or being a hassle to keep in your mouth. Keep in mind that if you are projected to need rubber bands or headgear, you might not be a candidate for aligners, at least at first.
All aligners you’re going to need to straighten your teeth are available at once and you’ll get at least a couple of sets in advance, so you don’t have to visit your orthodontist as often as you are required to for traditional braces. You’ll wear each set of aligners for two weeks before moving onto the next set, which you’ll monitor yourself. You will visit your orthodontist every six or eight weeks just to make sure your treatment is progressing appropriately.
The aligners are constructed of medical-grade thermoplastic polymers that have been approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to be used in the mouth on a long-term basis. All tests have shown that the materials are biocompatible and they have passed all regulatory requirements for use in the human mouth. There are no latex, phthalates, epoxy, Bisphenol A, glutaraldehyde, or parabens in the aligners. However, you should still consult with your orthodontist to make sure they’re right for you.
Corrects a Variety of Dental Issues
Invisalign is approved to treat almost any dental issue that traditional braces can treat, including teeth overcrowding, overbites, crossbites, underbites, open bites, misaligned teeth, and teeth gaps. You can get the same fantastic results from using aligner trays as you can get from traditional braces. You don’t have to worry about inferior results just because they are less of a hassle than braces can be. In this case, you can get the best of both worlds!
Be aware that there are some conditions that Invisalign is not effective at treating. If you have a bridge, this treatment may not work effectively because each tooth needs to move separately, but a bridge would require that at least two teeth move at the same time. Teeth that are rotated more than 20 degrees are also difficult to correct with aligners, as are gaps between teeth of greater than six millimeters. The shape of your teeth matters, too.
How It Works
Using a three-dimensional computer program, an image of your teeth is digitally straightened in increments, which allows the Align Technology to manufacture a series of aligner trays that are sent to your orthodontist. Since the trays are manufactured based on computer-generated models, you can see how your teeth will look when treatment concludes. This is also how your orthodontist will determine your individualized treatment plan based on how long the computer projects your teeth will take to straighten.
Each set of aligners will move your teeth between 0.25 and 0.33 millimeters toward your final look. This might not seem like a lot, but considering your teeth probably don’t have to move a long way to be straight, these movements are incrementally exact. You will be required to wear your aligners at least 20 hours per day to get the results you want in the projected time frame. Most patients complete their treatment between 18 and 30 months.
You will wear each set of aligners for two weeks, with more complex movements requiring a three-week session. During each cycle, only specific teeth are being targeted by slightly different aligners, but by the time you finish your treatment, all teeth will have moved into their final place. You’ll check in with your orthodontist every three or four cycles to ensure nothing needs to be adjusted and that your progress is on track to meet your goals on time.
The Ideal Candidate
Aligners are approved for teenagers and adults who have all their permanent teeth (with the possible exception of wisdom teeth). Since the treatment plan must be followed faithfully to receive the desired results, patients must be responsible enough to wear their aligners as directed. Not wearing the aligners for at least 20 hours a day will cause the time of treatment to be extended, and may incur additional costs if more trays are needed.
Invisalign is not recommended for children or teenagers who are prone to losing items since if an aligner tray is lost, it will need to be replaced at an additional cost. Moreover, if a child has not received all their permanent teeth, the alignment process will have to be repeated once they do, so your orthodontist won’t recommend this treatment until all their permanent teeth are in their natural place (again, with the possible exception of their wisdom teeth).
Some patients may be able to switch from traditional braces to aligners in the middle of their treatment. You’ll want to make sure that you won’t need other appliances to correct your dental issue before making the switch, so talk with your orthodontist if you’re considering making this move. If you’ve already had braces and your teeth have shifted since getting them off, you are almost certainly a candidate for Invisalign.
To begin your treatment, you’ll need to schedule a free consultation, which will consist of an examination, scan, and discussion about whether or not your condition can be successfully treated by aligners. Your orthodontist will look at your teeth and measure any rotations and gaps to ensure aligners will effectively straighten your teeth. You’ll discuss your options with your orthodontist, and if you both agree that Invisalign is the appropriate treatment, you’ll move on to the next step.
Your teeth will be digitally scanned to create an impression, which will allow you to see how your teeth will move over time and become straightened. This is an awesome feature because you’ll be able to see your incredible smile before you even begin treatment. Your orthodontist will use the scan to create a customized treatment plan that will spell out how many tray sets you’ll need, how long it will take, and your expected cost.
If you decide to undergo the treatment, you’ll talk with the billing department about how you’re going to finance the trays. By taking advantage of the clinic’s financing program, you can get started on your treatment sooner, because the orthodontist will send your scans to Align Technology to manufacture your custom aligner trays. In about three weeks, you’ll return to pick up your first aligner sets and instructions for treatment, including how long to wear them each day.
Now that you understand how much this treatment can cost, the benefits of the treatment, how you can finance it, and more, you may be excited to get started on your new, straight smile. The next step is to contact Central Texas Orthodontics in Austin, TX to schedule your free initial consultation and examination. The sooner you call, the sooner you can get the smile of your dreams!