How Much Does Invisalign® Cost?
Invisalign® is a type of orthodontic treatment that uses clear plastic aligner trays for tooth correction. Factors that determine the price of Invisalign include the complexity of the patient's case, duration of treatment and whether or not a patient has orthodontic insurance coverage. "In the United States, the cost of Invisalign treatment ranges from $3,500 to $8,000 with the national average at about $5,000," says New York City-based restorative dentist Laura Torrado, DDS, FAGD. Generally, the price that the dentist quotes includes the full course of treatment, including lab charges and service fees. If insurance plans do not cover Invisalign, many patients are able to finance their treatment with a medical line of credit.
Invisalign is a product of Align Technologies. After certification, they sell their orthodontic appliance to dentists, which they in turn use to treat their patients. "The dentist’s fee for orthodontic treatment with Invisalign is determined by the amount of time necessary to complete the case and the complexity of the case. Varying factors that determine the fee also include location of the dental practice, as this product usually is competitively priced according to the area of the dental practice and age of the patient," says Andrew Frangella, DDS, FICOI, FAGD.
Different Types of Invisalign
Invisalign has three different treatment options: Express, Teen and Full. "Each product has a different fee in which the dentist would purchase to provide the intended orthodontic treatment. Align does not change the fee if you choose to do one arch or to do both upper and lower teeth. The fee is the same regardless," says Dr. Frangella.
Invisalign Express 5 and Express 10 are geared towards minor movement with limited treatment time, about three-to-five months. These systems are namely for patients with very minor orthodontic crowding cases. "The number refers to the number of trays or aligners a patient gets. Each trays moves teeth 0.2 mm," says Jacquie Fulop-Goodling, a New York City-based orthodontist.
Express 5 can be used for any patient requiring 1mm or less of movement. Express 10 can be used for any patient requiring twice that or 2mm or less of movement. "These treatments are usually reserved for patients who are doing orthodontic treatment in conjunction with cosmetic dentistry procedures," says Dr. Fulop-Goodling. For example, if a dentist wants to move a front tooth over 1mm because his veneer or laminate would look better or more symmetrical (without having one front tooth look 9mm while the other is 11mm), then he would choose Express 5 so that he could one front tooth over 1mm and both teeth could be 11mm in width.
Invisalign Full is the most common option, geared for those who fall into six-month treatment time or more. "Patients who are regular with their appointments and are compliant with wearing the aligners are very good candidates. Usually adults do very well with this type of treatment," says Frangella.
Invisalign Teen is great for teens who need to be monitored more closely because they may lose aligners. "Children are not candidates because all of their permanent teeth have not fully erupted. Teenagers are candidates, but a subjective assessment must be made because they may not be compliant with regular wear," says Frangella.
Increasing Invisalign Costs
One of the main disadvantages of Invisalign is that it's based on the patient being compliant and wearing the aligners as prescribed. "If a patient is not in compliance, treatment could take longer," says Frangella. Washington, Pa. dentist Barry Bartusiak, DMD, agrees that patient compliance is a big factor in cost. "Are they wearing them 22 hours a day? Do they lose them? That all matters," says Dr. Bartusiak.
Fulop-Goodling points out that since Invisalign is removable, they can serve as both an advantage and disadvantage. "The advantage is truly an advantage for the patient because they can clean, brush and floss their teeth easier. There is also no food restrictions like there are with braces since they can remove them," says Fulop-Goodling.
There is also a disadvantage for the dentist, should they have a patient who constantly removes the Invisalign trays too often. "They will get less than optimal results. Orthodontists are only as good as their patients and their patients' compliance with wearing orthodontic appliances, especially when they can be removed," says Fulop-Goodling.
Frangella also points out that the patient cost is usually not flexible. "This can be a disadvantage to a patient from a negotiating standpoint," says Frangella.
This article was created by the Top Dentists editorial team.