We look at the true cost of getting clear aligners
For many people, the only thing holding them back from committing to clear aligner treatment is the cost involved. However, they really are more affordable than you might think.
Clear aligners don’t cost the earth and can actually save you money in the long run. Plus, there are a variety of ways that you can make them for affordable if you have concerns about paying for your clear aligner treatment. In this guide we’ll take you through the true cost of aligners, and how you can find ways to bring the price down to help you get the treatment you deserve.
Average cost of treatment
Most people have heard of Invisalign – it is the most famous brand of clear aligner treatment. However, it is also among the most expensive – ranging from $3,000 to $7,000 on average depending on how intensive your treatment needs to be.
That’s why at-home aligners are rocketing in popularity – they can be equally as effective for a lot of people, but without the huge costs involved. It’s worth shopping around (or just using our guides to compare providers) because prices and levels of service vary. You can expect to pay somewhere between $1,200 and $2,400 for your main course of treatment if you pay upfront. The price varies depending on whether it is a fully at-home treatment, or you’ll have dentist or orthodontist visits.
This will generally include all the aligner sets you need for your treatment, as well as your first set of retainers. With some providers it may also include extras, such as whitening gels to use with your aligners, or tools to speed up the process.
You will need to pay a little extra for your initial impression kit – these can vary between $40 and $100, which is refundable if you aren’t suited to treatment. However, if you make a mistake with your impression kit, you’ll need to pay for another.
Cost of at-night aligner treatment
Some aligner companies, such as Byte and SmileDirectClub, offer at-night aligners. These, as the name suggests, are only to be worn overnight instead of the 22 hours a day you should wear normal clear aligners. If you prefer the idea of at-night aligners, make sure you check the costs. With SmileDirectClub, the price is the same but with byte, you do have to pay more for your at-night aligners – $2,245 versus the standard clear aligner cost of $1,895.
Spreading the cost
Every clear aligner provider gives you the option of spreading the cost – because not everyone has a spare couple of thousand dollars lying around for a rainy day. Usually you’ll have to pay more if you decide to spread the cost – as a rough guide, expect around a 20% increase on the up-front cost if you want to pay by instalments. You’ll normally need to pay a deposit which can vary between $250 and $400, and then you’ll pay a set amount every month for a couple of years, between $80 and $100 per month normally.
Getting a helping hand
You don’t always have to pay for your clear alignment treatment completely out of your own pocket, and if you do then there are ways to make it more affordable.
A lot of dental plans cover orthodontic treatment and so can be used to help pay for your clear aligners. Some providers will be able to charge the cost direct to your insurer, while with others you may need to make your payment upfront and then charge it to your insurer for a reimbursement yourself.
You usually won’t be able to get the total cost covered by your dental insurance, but in most cases it will be a significant percentage. Whereas you might have paid a couple of thousand dollars if it was completely on you, the cost after your insurance contribution may just be a few hundred.
FSA and HSA accounts
If you have a Flexible Savings Account with your employer that covers health treatments, or a Health Savings Account that you’ve set up, you should be able to use this to cover the cost of your clear aligners, even after you’ve had the insurance contribution put towards it. It’s likely still your own money (unless your employer is making contributions to your FSA) but at least you won’t be paying tax on the money before you spend it, so you’ll make savings that way.
Unless you have other regular medical treatments which require use of your FSA or HSA funds, or you are a health risk that may require other hospital visits, it can often make sense to put use these pots to help pay for your teeth aligner treatment. Between insurance, HSA and FSA you may be able to avoid paying any money yourself at all, although you may need to pay upfront before you charge it to your FSA and get a refund.
How clear aligners can save you money
Not only are there various ways you can spread the cost of dental aligners, but they can save you money in the long-run too – they’ll often pay for themselves.
That’s because clear aligner treatment is far from being a purely cosmetic benefit. Having straighter teeth can have a lot of health benefits which could save you from larger dental or hospital bills further down the line. You’ll be less likely to require more serious corrective orthodontic work, and it’ll be easier to keep your teeth clean, which means fewer cavities and other serious gum problems if you take proper care of your teeth.
It can also make other treatments, such as whitening, a lot easier – for example, you can use gels or strips rather than having to pay for more expensive treatment with a dentist if your smile is straighter.
It might seem like a lot of money to spend, but by spreading the cost, and taking advantage of your dental insurance and any FSA or HSA funds you’ve built up, you may find that it makes a lot more financial sense to opt for clear aligner treatment than it would be to leave your smile crooked.