Braces have been around for decades, and there’s a good reason they remain a go-to teeth straightening option for adults everywhere: they work. But one thing that isn’t so certain about braces is treatment cost. It isn’t a one-size-fits-all number – it depends on a variety of factors, including your location.
The price of your braces is partially dictated by your home state. These costs in Illinois might be different from what you’d pay in Louisiana, New Hampshire, or another state. This guide will cover all the little details of your braces cost in Illinois, so you can get an idea of what you’ll pay.
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Cost of Adult Braces in Illinois vs. National Average
According to the American Dental Association, the national average cost for adult braces treatment is $4,800 to $7,135. The prices in Illinois are pretty in line with that average but can be lower if you live in a rural area, or higher if you live near Chicago.
|Area||Cost in Illinois||National Average|
|Urban||$5,500 - $7,500||$5,000|
|Suburban||$4,500 - $6,500||$5,500|
|Rural||$3,500 - $5,500||$4,000|
These ranges are estimates based on what we know about adult braces costs and some information from a few Illinois based orthodontists. But they should give you a general sense of what you might pay.
Why Are Braces So Expensive?
There’s no getting around the fact that braces are expensive. But that’s because they’re one of the most consistent and effective treatments available.
They might be visible and somewhat intrusive, but braces’ major benefit is their sturdiness. You can’t take them out like clear aligners, so they eliminate the potential for user error. Sure, you need to avoid excessively sticky or gummy foods, but in return, you’re getting surefire results. Metal brackets and wires give an orthodontist incredible control over your teeth, and during routine office visits, he or she can make adjustments to deliver the perfect results.
Braces require routine trips to the orthodontist over the course of a 12-24 month treatment timeline, and each visit costs money. Orthodontist offices have overhead costs like rent, utilities, and staff, which translate to patient fees. And don’t forget that you’re also paying for the orthodontist’s expertise and time. However, as you’ll find out, the price you ultimately pay is subject to a variety of influences, including where you live.
Looking For Affordable Orthodontic Treatment in Illinois?
Braces are a time-tested treatment option, but their price tag doesn’t fit every budget. That’s one reason why more and more adults are opting for “at-home” clear aligners like SmileDirectClub instead of braces or Invisalign.
By cutting office visits out of the equation and providing professional oversight in a remote format, at-home clear aligner companies offer straighter teeth for a much lower price. Our in-depth comparison guide provides all the information you'll need to choose the best provider for you.
What Factors Influence the Cost of Braces?
Braces are typically expensive. But exactly how expensive is a more complicated question. Multiple factors can influence your final bill. Some are based on your location, others are constant across state lines. We break them all down 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 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.
Type of Braces
Orthodontic technology has advanced significantly over the past couple of decades, and standard metal brackets aren’t the only option anymore. For instance, you can opt for ceramic braces that blend in with your teeth, or lingual braces that sit behind your teeth. Each of these is less noticeable than traditional braces, but they’re also more expensive. Ceramic braces can cost up to $8,000, while lingual braces can be between $8,000 and $12,000.
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 braces cost, and higher corporate taxes might cause your orthodontist to accommodate by raising prices.
The Midwest is home to rolling plains, neighborly people, and pretty decent braces prices. In general, Midwestern states enjoy lower orthodontic fees than almost anywhere else in the country (except the South). You can usually find affordable care in Illinois too. It has a slightly higher statewide cost of living than its neighbors, but this is mostly confined to Chicago and its suburbs.
Nearly all of Illinois neighbors have a lower cost of living, so crossing state lines into Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana, Missouri, or Kentucky might yield some better prices. This is most useful for people who live in Chicago, since the city is much more expensive than the rest of the state, and it’s pretty close to both Indiana and Wisconsin. Remember, though, that Invisalign requires office visits every 4-6 weeks, so don’t go too far.
Illinois has higher taxes than many of its Midwestern counterparts, which can lead to higher orthodontic costs. The statewide sales tax is 6.25% but can be as high as 11% when you factor in local taxes. This amount will be added directly to your final Invisalign costs. Then there’s the 4.8% corporate income tax, which you won’t have to pay, but your dentist might. Fortunately, this isn’t so high that it will drastically influence treatment prices.
Urban, Suburban, or Rural?
Not only are orthodontic costs different for each state, but they also vary based 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.
Chicago is a huge city that overflows into a vast sprawl of suburbs. It has a fairly high cost of living and more than 2.5 million residents (more than 9 million in the whole metropolitan area). Rent and real estate are especially expensive there, although healthcare is a bit more reasonable. But compared to the rest of the state, Chicago is a pricey place to live and work, which means higher orthodontic costs too, sometimes as high as $7,500 or more. Fortunately, depending on where in the city you live, you’re only about an hour’s drive from Wisconsin and/or Indiana, where you might be able to find some cheaper treatment.
There are a lot of suburbs around Chicago, and they all tend to run together. Some of them – like Aurora, Naperville, Joliet, and Elgin – are large cities in their own right, with populations pushing 150,000-200,000. Most of these suburbs are slightly cheaper than living in the city, but they’re still more expensive than other parts of the state. You still have access to all of Chicago’s orthodontists, though, which gives you a ton of prices to compare.
Illinois has a few other mid-sized towns scattered across the state, like Rockford in the west or centrally-located Bloomington, Peoria, and Champaign. The cost of living and health care expenses are, in most cases, significantly less expensive in these towns. They don’t, however, have quite as many orthodontists to choose from.
Outside Chicago and a few other cities like Rockford, Illinois is made up of farmland and small towns. Many of these towns are located in central and southern Illinois and are much cheaper places to live, with expenses well below the national average. The downside is that orthodontists in these areas are few and far between. Many towns have one, but if you’re in a really small town, you might need to go farther for your treatment, incurring travel expenses in the process.
When you have numerous 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 orthodontists in your area, it can mean lower prices, giving you the ability to “shop around.”
Illinois has a lot of dentists and orthodontists, although most of them are clustered in and around the Chicagoland area. So, if you’re in northeast Illinois, there’s plenty of competition for your business. To stand out, Invisalign providers might lower their prices or offer special promotions. Small town dentists and orthodontists might run sales too, but they have less reason to do so because there’s not as much competition.
Like most industries, in orthodontia, seasoned professionals can charge more for their services than relative newcomers. So, if your orthodontist has been administering braces for years, you might end up paying a bit more. For this reason, it can sometimes be helpful to “shop around” to weigh your options if you have multiple orthodontists nearby.
Managing Treatment Costs
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by treatment costs, you’re not alone. Take comfort in the fact that in most cases, you won’t have to pay the entire amount up front. Here are some ways you can make that price tag seem a little more manageable:
Review Your Insurance Plan
Braces for children and adolescents are partially covered by most dental insurance plans. However, plans don’t often cover costs for anyone over 18, unless they include orthodontic benefits. 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 braces without first reviewing your insurance plan and contacting your provider.
Some orthodontist offices also accept payments 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
You won’t likely see your orthodontist running sales or promotional discounts on braces. But sometimes they’ll offer perks to go along with your treatment, like teeth whitening or a percentage off your next visit. It certainly can’t hurt to ask. Sometimes you can even find deals on Groupon.
Universities with dental and orthodontic schools will also offer discounts if you don’t mind a resident administering your treatment. These individuals are qualified and on the track to becoming state-licensed orthodontists. Plus, they’re overseen by professors and experienced dental professionals, so you can be assured you’re receiving quality care.
Illinois has three universities that offer dental programs: the University of Illinois at Chicago, Midwestern University, and Southern Illinois University. You can receive discounted orthodontic care at both UIC in the city and SIU, which has clinics in Alton, Edwardsville, and East St. Louis.
Inquire about Financing Options
Most orthodontist offices offer financing plans that break your costs into manageable monthly payments. Typically you won’t need to pay the entire lump sum upfront. The terms of these plans vary, so you should speak with your orthodontist about the financing options they offer.
If your orthodontist’s options aren’t ideal, you can look into third-party dental financing companies like CareCredit or beWell, which finance everything from routine dentistry to complex orthodontic procedures.
Discuss Aftercare in Advance
Even after the brackets come off, teeth tend to shift back to their old positions. Aftercare retainers keep that from happening. After your teeth have been freed, 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. This, too, depends on your specific orthodontist.
Because your dentist can make tweaks and course corrections throughout your treatment, they can ensure that you’ll get a perfectly straight smile, and they won’t remove your braces until then. That said, some teeth simply don’t move quite as expected, so your orthodontist might need to add attachments and extend your treatment timeline, which will cost more. Talk to your orthodontist about their mid-treatment refinement policies before you begin.
3 Affordable Braces Alternatives
Braces are one of the most effective and powerful options out there, but they’re not ideal for everyone. Whether you’re unsure about the price tag or the procedure, here are three braces alternatives we think are worth your time.
1. Six Month Smiles
Maybe you want to get the sturdiness and power of braces, but avoid the metal wires and lengthy treatment time. If so, you might consider Six Month Smiles. They’re an in-office brand that uses clear wires and brackets for a more discreet appearance. Or, if you want to avoid brackets and wires altogether, they recently expanded their services to offer clear aligners as well.
With an average price range of $3,500 - $5,000, Six Month Smiles costs less than traditional braces in most cases. Plus, as their name suggests, the average treatment time is just six months, so you get the best of both worlds – one-on-one care and an abbreviated timeline. But on the flipside, Six Month Smiles isn’t suitable for as wide a range of conditions as traditional braces. If you have a severe case of misalignment, Six Month Smiles might not work for you.
Byte is a home teeth straightening service that sells custom clear aligners for less than half the price of braces or Invisalign. With Byte, you’ll receive your full aligner series in the mail, then administer treatment from the comfort of your home, no office visits required.
Like Six Month Smiles, Byte can only treat mild-to-moderate cases of misalignment. However, Byte’s average treatment plan length is a bit shorter — just 4–5 months, thanks to their “HyperByte” high-frequency vibration device.
We also appreciate Byte's lifetime guarantee, which promises users free revision treatment if their teeth ever move out of alignment. If you think Byte might be a good fit for your needs, check out our comprehensive review for a closer look at their service offerings, customer reviews, and a whole lot more.
Candid started out as an at-home teeth straightening service like Byte, but has since transitioned to a hybrid model that more closely resembles in-office treatment options like Invisalign.
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 — much less often than braces. That said, you'll still get the clinical oversight you need 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 home.
Candid treatment typically costs less than braces, but on the flip side, it's more limited in the scope of conditions it can address. Candid's treatment plans aren't currently designed to incorporate rubber bands or dental attachments like braces can. However, if you're looking to correct a mild or moderate case of misalignment, Candid could be a great option for you.
Read our review of Candid to learn more.
Getting braces is a big move, a significant step on your journey toward a new smile. But it’s a big expense, and uncertainty about your treatment’s price tag can be stressful. Fortunately, with the knowledge you’ve gained from this guide, you can get a better sense of whether or not braces are a viable option.
Keep in mind, though, that the only way to get a truly accurate cost for your braces in Illinois is by visiting your orthodontist. You should also remember that, although braces might seem expensive, there are ways to make them more affordable, like financing, discounts, and insurance. In the end, if you decide that they’re simply not right for you, there are plenty of other options available. No matter which route you take, your destination is the same: a brand new, photo-ready smile.