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Many sites online try to show average dollar amounts for orthodontic treatment. While this may be interesting, it may not be an accurate reflection of the costs associated with a particular patient. The differences between each individual and the variations of the problems present usually require different treatment options for each patient.

For example, a patient may have a very mild form of crowding and only minor tooth alignment issues. This patient may only require a retainer to correct the problem, whereas another patient may have significant crowding, a severe overbite, a major bite problem, and a skeletal asymmetry. Such a patient would likely require full braces, possible tooth extraction, and jaw surgery to fully correct the problems. The cost differences between the two options would be substantial i.e. $250 to over $8000 for just the braces, even more for surgical and other specialty costs. So an average of these would not be an accurate reflection of the treatment costs for any particular patient.

Also, there are significant regional differences in the fees charged. This is most likely due to the variation in overhead (i.e. rent, insurance, taxes, etc), and cost of living differences.

Standard fees are determined by each office independent from another office. That said, there have been nationwide surveys that attempt to reveal the average usual fees for a particular region. The more recent data shows an "average" comprehensive orthodontic fee for children to be in the $5000 to over $8000 range, with adult fees being slightly higher.

Since each office will set their own fees, 2nd opinions can be advantageous for obtaining cost estimates. Make sure that when comparing fees, the services included in the estimate are comparable. For example, some offices will charge separately for the different stages of treatment, while others will provide a comprehensive fee. Also ask about the possibility of additional charges and discounts. Siblings may sometimes receive discounts off of the fee if braces are needed for more than one family member.

Be aware that calling an office to get a fee quote may not be accurate. Without seeing the patient, there is no way the orthodontist can know what appliances, how long of a treatment, and what other special circumstances might be involved. So, to get the most accurate estimate of cost, schedule an initial examination appointment. Most orthodontists do not charge for this first exam, so it's a good way to get that information.