When I’m out of the office in a social situation and people find out I am an orthodontist, they will often ask me questions about their teeth or their child’s teeth. They also like to ask me how much braces cost. This question is a lot more difficult to answer because depending on the specific case the fees can vary a lot. The fees can also vary from office to office. I try to explain that unlike a box of cereal which is a commodity and is exactly the same no matter the store, orthodontic treatment is a service.
Only a small portion of what you are paying for is the physical braces, wires, and ties themselves. Technically you could go online and find a set of braces to purchase. You could also purchase the composite cement, curing light, orthodontic instruments, gloves, and all the other materials to perform orthodontic treatment. But, these are just the materials being used in your treatment and without understanding what to buy and how to use them they are useless. It is like hiring a contractor to renovate your kitchen. You aren’t paying for the wood planks, you are paying for their expertise as well as the materials to produce a finished kitchen.
In terms of orthodontic treatment, in our office we set fees depending upon case complexity. Shorter, less time intensive cases will cost less than cases that are more complicated and will require more time. This makes a lot of sense because more complex cases will require more appointments and chair/doctor time.
Our office fees are all-inclusive. The fees include all records, x-rays, materials, treatment with braces/Invisalign, a set of retainers after treatment, and retention follow-up. Not all offices include all components, so you need to ask when you are presented the fees. The other reason that fees tend to vary from office to office is because orthodontic treatment isn’t just a science. There is an artistry to it, and each doctor may have a slightly different way of treating a case. This is why it is important to have a consultation with an orthodontist and feel comfortable with the doctor, office, and treatment plan.