Braces have been around for decades, and there’s a good reason they’re still a choice for straightening teeth for adults everywhere: they work. But one thing that is not so certain about braces is the cost of treatment. it’s not a one-size-fits-all number, it depends on a variety of factors, including your location.
You may pay one amount in California, but a friend may pay something completely different in Illinois, Pennsylvania, or Texas. This guide looks at all the factors that contribute to brake costs in California to help you get an idea of what he’ll pay.
cost of braces for adults in california vs. national average
According to the American Dental Association, the national average cost for braces treatment for adults is $4,800 to $7,135. But in California, the land of waterfront views and movie star charm, you’ll likely end up paying more. the state’s high cost of living and taxes make it one of the most expensive states for adult braces.
These ranges are estimates based on what we know about braces costs for adults and some information from some California orthodontists. but they should give you a general idea of what you might pay.
why are braces so expensive?
there is no getting around the fact that braces are expensive. but that’s because they are one of the most consistent and effective treatments available.
They can be visible and somewhat intrusive, but the main advantage of braces is their robustness. They are not removable like clear aligners, so they eliminate the possibility of user error. Sure, you should avoid excessively sticky or rubbery foods, but in return, you’ll get foolproof results. Metal braces and wires give your orthodontist incredible control over your teeth, and during routine office visits, he or she can make adjustments to deliver the perfect results.
Braces require routine trips to the orthodontist over the course of a 12- to 24-month treatment schedule, and each visit costs money. Orthodontic offices have overhead costs like rent, utilities, and staff, which translate into fees for patients. And don’t forget that you’re also paying for the orthodontist’s expertise and time. however, as you’ll discover, the price you ultimately pay is subject to a variety of influences, including where you live.
what factors influence the cost of braces?
brakes are usually expensive. but exactly how expensive is a more complicated question. Multiple factors can influence your final bill. some are based on your location, others are consistent across state lines. we break them all down in detail below.
severity of the condition
This is the most important price determining factor. a minor case of crowding or spacing simply requires less time and fewer aligners to correct than a severe case of crossbite. The fewer office visits your teeth require, the less you’ll pay. During your initial consultation, your dentist/orthodontist can evaluate your teeth and estimate how long your treatment may take.
type of braces
Orthodontic technology has advanced significantly in the last two decades and standard metal braces are no longer the only option. For example, you can opt for ceramic braces that blend in with your teeth or lingual braces that sit behind your teeth. each of these are less noticeable than traditional braces, but they are also more expensive. ceramic braces can cost up to $8,000, while lingual braces can cost between $8,000 and $12,000.
In general, orthodontic care costs more on the coasts and less in the center of the country. The Northeast is particularly expensive, while southern states like Alabama and Mississippi boast some of the lowest costs in the country. taxes can also play a role. the state will add sales tax to the total cost of braces, and higher corporate taxes may cause your orthodontist to adjust by raising prices.
california is big. some parts feel like the desert Southwest, while others are chic, sunny seaside towns. the state contains cities of all sizes and much geographic diversity. But as a high-tax West Coast state, California brace prices are typically higher than other states, no matter which part of the state you call home. The Northeast might have slightly higher average orthodontic costs, but the West Coast is a close second.
If you are within driving distance, you may be able to find cheaper braces in Nevada or Arizona, which have a lower cost of living and generally lower health care expenses. Some residents of Southern California choose to receive their orthodontic treatment in Tijuana, Mexico, just across the border from San Diego. and while this route is significantly cheaper, it is also riskier as it is an unknown city and country. Be sure to do plenty of research if you’re considering crossing the border for braces. Also, remember that braces require office visits every 4 to 6 weeks, so don’t go further than you’d be willing to travel on a regular basis.
And we can’t forget taxes. California sales and income taxes are higher than average. the 7.25% sales tax will directly affect the cost of your treatment. the 8.84% corporate income tax makes it more expensive to operate a business which, in turn, could cause your orthodontist to charge more for treatment.
urban, suburban or rural?
Orthodontia costs are not only different for each state, they also vary based on your location within the state. urban areas, for example, often have a higher cost of living and it is less expensive to live in a small town. Do you have high rent and utility payments? then your dentist or orthodontist probably does too. higher overhead costs generally result in more expensive orthodontic treatment.
California’s two largest urban centers are Los Angeles (the second largest city in the country) and San Francisco. But California is the most populous state in the US. USA, so it contains several other large cities, such as San Diego, San Jose, Sacramento, and Bakersfield. Cities along the coast or around the bay have a high cost of living, so you’ll likely pay more for braces, up to $10,000 depending on your case. there are plenty of options for orthodontists in these cities, so you can still find a good deal. Cities in the Central Valley and Eastern California, like Bakersfield and Fresno, have a lower cost of living, which means they often also have lower orthodontia costs (but still higher than the national average). /p>
Keep in mind that Los Angeles is a movie production hub, filled with movie stars, glitz and glamour. This means it is a hotspot for cosmetic orthodontics and a magnet for some of the best orthodontists in the US. who can sometimes charge much higher prices for their treatment.
los angeles and san francisco are sprawling urban areas surrounded by many suburbs, some affordable and some extremely expensive. therefore, prices for orthodontic treatment in these suburbs can be comparable to what you’ll find in the city, or sometimes even higher. California also has numerous independent midsize cities throughout the state. Generally, the closer a city is to the coast, the more you’ll pay for braces. Coastal cities like Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz have higher costs of living, while Central Valley cities like Visalia and Tipton don’t cost as much. If you’re in Los Angeles or the San Francisco suburbs, even a more expensive one still has access to the city’s plethora of orthodontists, so you can shop around to find the best prices.
We’ll say it again: California is big. not only in population, but also in geographic area. The state may conjure up images of quaint surf towns and busy cities, but there’s plenty of open space in California, too. Small towns, especially inland ones, are often much more affordable places to live, and their orthodontic rates reflect that. the small towns along the coast, however, are sometimes popular vacation spots where braces can cost more.
When you have numerous orthodontists in a given area, each of them needs to find ways to stay ahead of the competition and attract new clients. Many times, this means lower prices and special offers or sales. therefore, if there is a high concentration of orthodontists in your area, it may mean lower prices, giving you the ability to “shop.”
An orthodontist in one of California’s big cities has stiff competition, especially in Los Angeles with its high-profile dentists for the stars. And every business knows that to attract new customers, you have to differentiate yourself. that’s why orthodontists in high-competition areas sometimes offer promotional discounts and hold sales. monitor orthodontist websites (or contact them directly) for special offers on braces treatment.
Because they have fewer dentists and orthodontists overall, rural areas have lower levels of competition, so invisalign providers are less likely to offer sales and promotions, although they still do sometimes.
Like most industries, in orthodontics, experienced professionals can charge more for their services than newcomers. so if your orthodontist has been administering braces for years, you may end up paying a bit more. For this reason, it can sometimes be helpful to “shop around” to weigh your options if you have multiple orthodontists nearby.
treatment cost management
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by treatment costs, you’re not alone. Take comfort in the fact that, in most cases, you won’t have to pay the full amount up front. here are some ways you can make that price tag seem a bit more manageable:
review your insurance plan
braces for children and adolescents are partially covered by most dental insurance plans. however, plans typically don’t cover costs for people age 18 and older, unless they include orthodontia benefits. But you don’t want to start treatment waiting for help from your insurance provider, only to find that it doesn’t come. so don’t commit to braces without first reviewing your insurance plan and contacting your provider.
Some orthodontic offices also accept payments directly from an FSA or HSA account, if you have one. Check with your dentist or orthodontist to see how they handle these payments.
look for offers and discounts
You probably won’t see your orthodontist offering promotional deals or discounts on braces. but sometimes they will offer advantages to accompany your treatment, such as teeth whitening or a percentage discount on your next visit. it certainly can’t hurt to ask. sometimes you can even find deals on groupon.
Universities with dental and orthodontic schools will also offer discounts if you don’t mind having a resident administer your treatment. these individuals are qualified and on track to become state licensed orthodontists. Plus, they’re supervised by experienced dental professionals and professors, so you can be sure you’re receiving quality care.
California has six dental schools, more than most other states, and five of them offer orthodontic services to the community. Around Los Angeles, you can visit USC, UCLA, or Loma Linda. and close to the bay area, you have ucsf and the university of the pacific.
learn about financing options
Most orthodontic offices offer financing plans that break your costs into manageable monthly payments. You usually won’t have to pay the full amount up front. The terms of these plans vary, so you should talk to your orthodontist about the financing options they offer.
If your orthodontist’s options aren’t ideal, you can look into third-party dental financing companies like carecredit or bewell, which finance everything from routine dentistry to complex orthodontic procedures.
discuss aftercare in advance
Even after braces are removed, teeth tend to return to their previous positions. aftercare retainers prevent that from happening. After your teeth have been released, you will have a perfect new smile and you will need to purchase a retainer to protect it. Retainer costs vary, but you can usually get one for $100 – $300. This also depends on your specific orthodontist.
Because your dentist can make adjustments and course corrections throughout your treatment, he can ensure that you get a perfectly straight smile and won’t have your braces removed until then. That said, some teeth just don’t move as expected, so your orthodontist may need to add accessories and extend your treatment schedule, which will cost more. Talk to your orthodontist about their mid-treatment refinement policies before you start.
3 affordable brake alternatives
Braces are one of the most effective and powerful options out there, but they’re not ideal for everyone. Whether you’re unsure about the price or the procedure, here are three brace alternatives we think are worth your time.
Putting on braces is a big move, an important step in your journey to a new smile. but it is a big expense and the uncertainty about the price of your treatment can be stressful. Fortunately, with the knowledge you’ve gained from this guide, you can have a better idea of whether or not braces are a viable option.
Keep in mind, however, that the only way to get a truly accurate cost for your braces in California is to visit your orthodontist. You should also remember that although braces may seem expensive, there are ways to make them more affordable, such as financing, discounts, and insurance. In the end, if you decide they just aren’t right for you, there are plenty of other options available. Whichever route you take, your destination is the same: a new, photograph-ready smile.