Invisalign has long been the country’s go-to clear aligner treatment. From New York to California, they’ve crafted dazzling smiles and renewed confidence for over twenty years. And while Invisalign delivers consistent coast-to-coast results, their prices can vary based on where you live. Why? That’s a good question.
Numerous factors can sway invisalign costs, depending on your home state. Invisalign in the Golden State isn’t cheap, and you’ll often see prices well above the national average due to California’s high cost of living, above-average tax rates, and densely populated cities. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find some reasonable deals. On average, you can expect to pay between $4,500 and 9,000 for Invisalign treatment in California. But where you fall in that range depends on several factors.
So, if you’re trying to plot out a budget, but don’t have a good Invisalign estimate, we’re here for you. By the end of this guide, you’ll have a better idea of what you can expect to pay for Invisalign in California.
|Area||Cost in California||National Average|
|Urban||$6,500 - $9,000||$5,000|
|Suburban||$5,500 - $7,500||$5,500|
|Rural||$4,500 - $6,000||$4,500|
These ranges are estimates based on what we know about Invisalign costs and some information from a few California-based orthodontists. But they should give you a general sense of what you might pay.
Table of Contents
Why Is Invisalign So Expensive?
We won’t lie: Invisalign is pricey no matter where you live. But there are good reasons for this, and many people think it’s worth the expense.
Every part of your treatment will go through your dentist or orthodontist, which gives them the chance to make on-the-fly adjustments, implementing additional attachments and altering timelines where they see fit. This is the most drastic difference between Invisalign and at-home aligner services like Byte, Candid, and SmileDirectClub. And it enables your orthodontist to treat a wide variety of severe conditions, even jaw misalignments like overbite and underbite.
The average Invisalign treatment time is 12-18 months and requires office visits around every six weeks. But your dentist or orthodontist’s time, facilities, and equipment aren’t free, which means Invisalign often costs substantially more than at-home alternatives.
Looking For Affordable Orthodontic Treatment in California?
Invisalign is a great product, but the price tag can be difficult to swallow. If you're looking to straighten your teeth without breaking the bank, there are more affordable options out there.
Home-based clear aligner brands like SmileDirectClub and Byte sell similar products for a fraction of the cost of Invisalign. We've researched and reviewed these services to help you find the best solution for your smile (& your budget).
What Factors Influence Invisalign Costs?
No matter where you are, Invisalign is somewhat expensive. But just how expensive depends on numerous factors. Some apply to every state while others are based on where you live, but you can find all of them in detail below.
This is the most significant price-determining factor. A minor case of crowding or spacing simply takes less time and aligners to correct than a severe case of crossbite. The fewer office visits and aligners your teeth require, the less you’ll pay. During your initial consultation, your dentist/orthodontist can evaluate your teeth and estimate how long your treatment might take.
In general, orthodontic care costs more on the coasts and less in the middle of the country. The northeast is particularly expensive, while southern states like Alabama and Mississippi boast some of the nation’s lowest costs. Taxes can also play a role. The state will add sales tax to your total Invisalign cost, and higher corporate taxes might cause your orthodontist to accommodate by raising prices.
California is an interesting state for orthodontic fees because it’s just so big, which means its numerous towns vary drastically in size, location, cost of living, and more. But in general, because it’s a west coast state with high taxes, Invisalign treatment in California will be more expensive than in other states. Its average orthodontic fees aren’t quite as high as states in the northeast, but they’re still high, especially if you live in L.A. or San Francisco.
If you live in eastern California, you can potentially cross over into Nevada or Arizona, where Invisalign usually costs slightly less. Some people in the state’s southern tip (around San Diego), also choose to jump the border and head to Tijuana, where orthodontic treatment is significantly cheaper. While this route certainly saves money, you’ll want to make sure you do ample research before going for it. Also, remember that Invisalign requires office visits every 4-6 weeks, so if you’d rather not cross the border that often, this probably isn’t the route for you.
And we can’t forget taxes. California’s sales and income taxes are both higher than average. The 7.25% sales tax will directly affect your treatment cost. The 8.84% corporate income tax makes it more expensive to run a business which, in turn, could cause dentists and orthodontists to charge more for treatment.
Urban, Suburban, or Rural?
Not only are Invisalign prices different between states, but they also vary depending on your location within the state. Urban areas, for example, often have a higher cost of living, and it’s less expensive to live in a small town. Do you have high rent and utility payments? Then your dentist or orthodontist likely does too. Higher overhead costs usually result in more expensive orthodontic treatment.
California is the most populous state in the U.S., and that population is concentrated in several urban areas. It’s home to Los Angeles, the nation’s second-largest city, as well as other large cities like San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Fresno, and Sacramento. If you live in one of these cities, you’ll have a ton of Invisalign provider options, but in most cases, your treatment is going to be fairly expensive, sometimes up to $9,000 around L.A. and San Francisco. This is primarily due to the high cost of living in these areas, which is nearly double the national average. This isn’t to say you can’t find good deals in California’s big cities, but they’re few and far between. Cities in the eastern or central portion of the state, like Fresno and Bakersfield, however, have a lower cost of living which leads to lower Invisalign costs.
Because Los Angeles is a film and entertainment hub, they have an especially high demand for cosmetic dentistry and orthodontics. Consequently, it’s a hotspot for orthodontic offices and attracts some of the nation’s best, who often charge much higher prices for their services.
We should also note that California has six schools of dentistry around L.A. and the Bay Area, five of which offer orthodontic services to patients: UCLA, USC, UCSF, Loma Linda University, and University of the Pacific. You’ll receive care from qualified students or residents, often for less than it would cost at a private practice.
Around and in between these urban hubs, California has a bevy of mid-sized towns. A significant number of these are part of the sprawling metropolitan areas around Los Angeles and San Francisco, but many are independent as well. In most of these towns, you’ll find Invisalign prices slightly lower than large cities offer, but still higher than the national average, somewhere in the $5,500 – $7,500 range. Of course, this depends on the town. Suburbs in the L.A. or San Francisco metropolitan areas often have higher costs of living and, therefore, higher prices. As do towns near the coast like Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo. While mid-sized towns in the central valley like Visalia enjoy slightly lower prices. The benefit of suburbs around an urban area is that you have access to a city’s wealth of orthodontic options.
When most people think of California, they imagine glittering beaches and bustling film sets, but the state has vast rural areas as well. While they don’t necessarily have the perceived glamour of L.A., they enjoy a much lower cost of living, so you can actually find fairly reasonable Invisalign prices. You’ll have fewer options, and you might need to travel farther to find a provider, but the lower prices might be well worth the hassle.
When you have numerous dentists and orthodontists in a given area, they each need to find ways to stay ahead of the competition and attract new customers. Many times, this means lower prices and special offers or sales. So, if there’s a high concentration of Invisalign providers in your area, it can mean lower prices, giving you the ability to “shop around.”
As we mentioned earlier, you’ll have a ton of options if you live in one of California’s cities, especially L.A. More local competition often means Invisalign providers will try to find attractive ways to distinguish themselves and win new customers. They might mail out special promotions, offer free whitening, give discounts to repeat customers, or otherwise compete for your business. Granted, some of California’s A-list orthodontists with celebrity clientele don’t need to promote their business, but plenty of others do, and you could reap the rewards.
Because they have fewer dentists and orthodontists overall, rural areas have lower levels of competition, so Invisalign providers are less likely to offer sales and promotions, although sometimes they still do.
Dentist or Orthodontist Experience
A seasoned dental professional with an impressive portfolio of Invisalign successes will often charge more than a novice who just started offering clear aligner treatment. So, in some cases, you may need to decide between experience and affordability (but not always!). Sometimes it can be helpful to “shop around” to weigh your options if you have multiple dentists and orthodontists nearby.
Invisalign has a tiered series of levels (ranging from bronze to platinum) that tell you how much experience a given provider has. When you search for providers through Invisalign’s website, they will show you the level of each dentist and orthodontist in your area.
Managing Treatment Costs
When you’re staring down thousands of dollars in orthodontic treatment, it can be intimidating. Fortunately, there are effective ways to lower and manage those costs, from promotional discounts to payment plans. Here’s what you can do:
Review Your Insurance Plan
Some insurance plans will include Invisalign treatment and others don’t. If your plan includes orthodontic benefits, there’s a good chance you might receive partial coverage. But you don’t want to begin treatment expecting help from your insurance provider, only to find out that it’s not coming. So don’t commit to an Invisalign plan without first reviewing your insurance plan and contacting your provider to see if you’ll receive coverage.
You can also pay for Invisalign directly from an FSA or HSA account if you have one. Consult your dentist or orthodontist to see how they handle these payments.
Search for Sales and Discounts
Unfortunately, you’re not going to find sales plastered across Invisalign’s homepage and you won’t receive floods of promotional emails advertising “$100 off!” or “20% discount!” Invisalign doesn’t do that. However, your specific dentist or orthodontist might. Give their office a call to see if they have any special Invisalign offers. Sometimes, dentist offices will post these discounts on Groupon. Just head over to Groupon.com and search for Invisalign deals in your area and you might just find some.
Universities with dental schools will also offer discounts if you don’t mind a student or resident administering your Invisalign treatment. These individuals are qualified and overseen by professors and experienced dental professionals, so you can be assured you’re receiving quality care.
California has six dental schools, more than most other states, and five of them offer orthodontic services to patients. Around L.A., you can visit USC, UCLA, or Loma Linda University. And near the Bay Area, you’ve got UCSF and University of the Pacific. Each of these universities offers orthodontic care, but you’ll want to call ahead to make sure they can provide Invisalign treatment.
Ask About Financing
Most people can’t pay thousands of dollars for treatment all at once, so in many cases, financing is a must. Invisalign doesn’t have any company-wide payment plan policies – they leave it up to each provider. So, speak with your dentist or orthodontist to see what types of financing they offer. Many offices partner with specific third-party companies like CareCredit or beWell to break Invisalign costs into more manageable payments.
Discuss Aftercare in Advance
Even after Invisalign treatment, teeth have a tendency to shift back to their old positions. Aftercare retainers keep that from happening. When you remove your last aligner, you’ll have a perfect new smile, and you’ll need to purchase a retainer to protect it. Retainer costs vary, but you can usually get one for $100 - $300. Ask your Invisalign provider what they charge so you can plan it into your budget.
Because your dentist can make tweaks and course corrections throughout your treatment, they can ensure that you’ll get a perfectly straight smile. But sometimes, teeth simply don’t move as expected. In the rare case that things don’t turn out as you hoped, you might be eligible for a refinement, where your dentist will craft new aligners to deliver the results you’re after. Of course, this will take more time and resources, so refinements often cost an additional fee.
3 Affordable Invisalign Alternatives
If you’ve come this far, you’re probably pretty serious about Invisalign, but it’s not ideal for everyone and there are some other high-quality options out there. Take a look at three of our favorites:
Byte is an at-home aligner service, so you’ll receive your full aligner series in the mail, then administer treatment from the comfort of home, no office visits required. We love Byte because they combine a lightning-fast treatment time with top-quality care.
They can’t treat the same scope of conditions that Invisalign can, but for mild and moderate cases, they can usually deliver results in just 3 months. And they don’t sacrifice quality to make it happen. Byte guarantees that your treatment will be designed and monitored by an orthodontist, not a general dentist or dental technician. Then, they ensure your smile forever with their Byte for Life guarantee.
Want to review Byte and Invisalign side-by-side? Take a look at our Byte vs. Invisalign comparison guide.
Candid started out as an at-home clear aligner service like Byte, but has since transitioned to a hybrid model that more closely resembles Invisalign treatment.
With Candid, your treatment will be administered by a local dentist, but you'll only need to visit them in person a couple of times throughout the entire process. This is thanks to Candid's proprietary CandidMonitoring™ system, which allows you to submit scans of your teeth for review every two weeks from the comfort of your home.
Candid typically costs around 30% less than Invisalign, but on the flip side, it's a bit more limited in the scope of conditions it can address. This is because Candid's treatment plans aren't currently designed to incorporate rubber bands or dental attachments like Invisalign can. That said, if you're looking to correct a mild or moderate case of misalignment, Candid could be a great option for you.
You can check out our Candid vs. Invisalign review for a more in-depth comparison.
ClearCorrect is Invisalign’s largest in-office competitor. Like Invisalign, ClearCorrect’s treatment is administered by a dentist or orthodontist, so you’ll need to make regular office visits. Much of ClearCorrect’s process is very similar. The advantage they have over Invisalign is that they charge dentists and orthodontists less for lab fees, which often makes treatment less expensive for the customer.
For a deeper analysis of these two companies, take a look at our ClearCorrect vs. Invisalign review.
One of the first steps in preparing for Invisalign treatment is working it into your budget, but it’s difficult when you don’t have an accurate cost estimate. But now that you know all the intricate pricing details in California, you can better evaluate how viable this treatment might be.
Of course, the only way to get a truly spot-on estimate is by consulting a dentist or orthodontist. If you love Invisalign but aren’t sure about the cost, don’t let that hold you back. Speak with your dentist to see how you might be able to make it more affordable. Or, check out one of the quality alternatives we’ve outlined here. Either way, you’ll be on track to the perfect option for your perfect smile.