Clear aligners are an excellent alternative to traditional braces, particularly for those who want their treatment to be undetected. If you’re looking for options to correct your smile, aligners can make a great choice. We’re breaking down everything you need to know about them below, including the cost of clear aligners, so you can decide whether this teeth straightening option is right for you.
How aligners work
Aligners work by using clear plastic trays to fit snuggly against your teeth. The aligner trays will be traded in every few weeks or so and fit snugly to help guide your teeth into their new position. The trays are designed uniquely to fit your smile by using a special mold to model your teeth and how they need to be adjusted, with aligner trays to match.
In order for the aligners to move your teeth correctly, you’ll need to wear them for most of the day, only removing them to brush, eat, or drink. That means you may wear your aligners for 20 to 22 hours a day to help your teeth learn their new position.
If you have bite issues, some doctors may put brackets on your teeth or trays in order to place rubber bands that will help shift your jaw into a better position. So just like traditional braces, this method can be an effective way to improve your smile, leading to confidence and overall dental health.
How much aligners cost per month
Here’s how much aligners may cost per month:
Through the orthodontist
The cost of aligners can vary significantly depending on if you decide to go through your orthodontist or if you choose to use an at-home version. Aligner treatment can vary between $3,000 and $7,000, depending on your location and provider. Also, there may be additional charges within that range for additional check-ins and adjustments as your teeth adjust.
But the benefit here is that, just like traditional braces, a doctor will oversee your treatment plan from start to finish, ensuring you’re receiving the correct treatment for you. With a standard two-year treatment plan, that may equal $125-$291 a month.
On the other hand, if you choose to use an at-home method, the cost can be around $1,800 as you’re primarily paying for the materials and not on-site check-ups with an orthodontist. While more affordable, this aligner method leaves patients vulnerable to further dental issues without readjustments and thorough oversight.
With the standard 6-month treatment plan for at-home kits, it equals $300 a month. But spread over a 24-month payment plan, this equals $75 a month.
For reference, the cost of metal braces can begin at $2,000 and go upwards of $5,000. This means that clear aligners can be around the same cost or only slightly more expensive, and are thus more accessible than ever. An insurance company may cover the aligner cost as they would metal braces, but it depends on your dental plan coverage.
Are aligners right for me?
There are a few details important to deciding whether aligners are right for you. Questions to ask include:
- Do clear aligners fit your lifestyle?
- Can you keep up with them (wear them 20 to 22 hours a day and avoid certain foods and drinks)?
- Will your insurance cover the cost? How much coverage will you get for metal braces vs. aligners?
- Have you had braces before?
- Is your oral health up to date? When was the last time you went to the dentist?
- What is your preferred timeline?
- What is your budget?
With your answers in mind, you can consult with an orthodontist or other aligner brand to understand which option is best for you.
Clear aligners can be a great option for many. However, corrective measures are not one-size-fits-all. What works for someone else may not work for your dental needs. While aligners can be more affordable, it’s important to discuss your needs and wants with a professional before making a decision.