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Why Is Orthodontic Treatment “So Expensive”?

EXPENSIVE IS A relative term. In 1965, my braces cost $1000. For comparison, our family car cost $2500 and our house cost less than $18,000. Fast-forward to 2017. Braces now cost in the neighborhood of $6000, while an equivalent family car costs $30,000 and a house costs at least $360,000 and probably much more. In fifty years, the cost of braces has gone up sixfold while car prices have gone up twelvefold and house prices twentyfold or more.

Results That Last

Orthodontic treatment hasn’t just escaped the level of price inflation of cars and housing; the results also last longer than most people keep the same car, or even the same house! With good maintenance, you easily can keep a car for ten years, but the smile I received as a teenager is still beautiful after more than fifty years. And it is still going strong. That is an unbelievable value for your money.

Cost Versus Value

What about the value of the orthodontic treatment process itself? There is a tremendous amount of time and energy that goes into the treatment of each individual orthodontic patient.

You start with a clinical exam by the doctor where he tells you if you need orthodontic treatment and why. Next, you have your diagnostic records taken. The doctor analyzes the diagnostic records in order to diagnose all of the patient’s orthodontic problems.
Then he writes a treatment plan, which is a step-by-step outline of how these problems are going to be corrected. The next step is to actually get your braces or other appliances put on and start your treatment.

Over the next 18-24 months, you visit your orthodontist every 6-10 weeks for “adjustment appointments.” These are the visits that actually move your teeth and jaws into proper alignment.

When The Braces Come Off

After the teeth and jaws are in their proper position, the braces are removed. The bonding material that held the braces onto the teeth is removed and the teeth are polished back to their original luster. Then retainers are given to the patient that same day so the teeth will stay in their final position.

Then the retention period begins. The orthodontist monitors the patient’s teeth for 4 visits over the next 2 years to ensure that the patient’s teeth remain in the correct position.
During the retention period, bite adjustments are made and retainers are adjusted or replaced to ensure a proper fit. Wisdom teeth are also monitored so that they do not compromise the results of the treatment.

To Summarize…

Orthodontic treatment may appear to be expensive, but upon closer examination it actually provides a service that gives you a fantastic value for the money you spend. All the procedures mentioned above, from the clinical exam to the the 2-year retention period, are generally included in the fee for the orthodontic treatment. The services are provided over as long as a 4-year period.

The patient will spend up to four years under the care of a dentist who has 2-3 years of additional specialty training in orthodontics. And all this is done in order to give that patient a beautiful smile that will last a lifetime.

How can we help you get the smile of your dreams?

Top image by Flickr user monica y garza used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.


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