Humanity’s preoccupation with straight teeth dates back centuries. Take the Egyptians, for example. Mummies have been found with catgut wrapped about their teeth. They used this fibrous cord made from animal intestines, usually a sheep or goat, to close gaps in their teeth and straighten them. Fortunately, braces (aka orthodontics) has come a long way since catguts.
Today, roughly 4 million Americans wear braces according to reports by dental insurance carrier Humana.Although braces have long been thought of as something adolescents wear, 25% of those 4 million people are over 18 years old, proving braces aren’t just for kids.
Whether you’re looking into braces for yourself or your child, we’ll give you a crash course on everything you need to know about braces.
How much do braces cost?
As with any big investment, the first thing you want to know is how much it’s going to cost. Traditional metal braces start at about $3,000 and non-metal braces can cost as much $10,000. It’s important not to make a decision based solely on price, but rather what would be most effective for you or your child.
Types of braces
There are five different types of braces on the market today, each with their own pros, cons and price points. Here’s a snapshot of some of the advantages and disadvantages of each type.
Type: Metal braces
Cost: $3,000 to $7,000
Overview: Most traditional, with steel ties that hold the brackets and wires together
Pros: Least expensive, colored bands available
Cons: Most noticeable, hard and sticky foods can be problematic
Cost: $3,000 to $8,000
Overview: Series of clear invisible trays that resemble a mouth guard
Pros: Virtually invisible, removable, no restrictions on what you can eat
Cons: Trayscan be easily stained or misplaced, not suitable for kids, can take longer to see results
Type: Damon braces
Cost: $3,800 to $8,000
Overview: Self-ligating braces that don’t require steel ties to shift your teeth
Pros: Clear brackets available, reduced treatment time compared to metal braces
Cons: Hard and sticky foods can be problematic
Type: Ceramic braces
Cost: $4,000 to $8,000
Overview: Tooth-colored braces that blend in with your natural smile
Cons: Can be easily stained so great upkeep is required, hard and sticky foods can be problematic
Type: Lingual braces
Cost:$8,000 to $10,000
Overview: Wires and brackets that are installed behind your teeth
Cons: Most expensive, difficult to clean, tongue irritation common, longer appointment times
How long do you wear braces?
The length of time you can expect to wear braces varies depending on the severity of your case, as well as your treatment method. On average, braces are worn from 18 months to 2 years. However, adults may need to wear braces for up to 3 years to achieve desired results.
Foods to avoid with braces
With the exception of Invisalign®, which is removed before eating, you’ll need to be careful with what you eat to avoid damaging your braces. In a nutshell, foods that are hard, tough, chewy, sticky or crunchy should be avoided. These are things like raw carrots, beef jerky, taffy, peanut butter and popcorn. Now, that’s not to say you can’t eat fruits and veggies that are hard when raw. Just be sure to slice them up first, so you aren’t biting into them with your front teeth.
How to clean braces
It’s very easy for food to get stuck in your brackets and wires, so don’t slack on your oral hygiene. Look into getting an interdental toothbrush, like the Proxabrush®, in addition to your regular toothbrush.The Proxabrush® bristles are shaped like a tiny Christmas tree so it can clean under the wires and around the brackets of your braces. You’ll want to be sure that you also floss regularly, which can be tricky at first. Check out Oral B’s article on “How to Floss with Braces” for a step-by-step guide.
Does dental insurance cover braces?
Not all dental insurance plans will cover orthodontics. If they do, it is usually covered at 50% but only for patients who are 18 years old or younger. That can be a huge financial burden to those who are 18 and older. Plus, even with dental insurance, you’re still going to pay a good chunk of change for braces.
How to get affordable braces
If your dental insurance plan doesn’t cover orthodontics, you’re 18 or older, or you simply want to pay less for braces, look into a dental savings plan. A dental savings plan is a more flexible and affordable alternative to dental insurance that works like a club membership. You pay an annual membership fee that starts at around $80 and get access to a network of dental professionals who provide their services at a 10% to 60% discount. That means you could get a steep discount on braces, no matter what your age.
All about braces
Braces are a big financial investment and something that you or your little one will wear for quite some time, so be sure you’re comfortable and confident in the type of braces you choose. Don’t hesitate to ask your orthodontist or dental insurance carrier for more information on anything discussed here, including cost and coverage. Get as much information as possible upfront so you can make the best decision.