Orthodontics and cost – what you’re actually paying for

One of the questions we hear most often is ‘how much do braces cost?’ While the price can vary depending on your individual needs, on average a 18 month treatment plan is likely to be around $3,500 to $9,000. This is a significant investment, and it’s entirely understandable that parents want to know exactly what it covers.

The good news is that most orthodontists are happy to provide all-inclusive treatment quotes. That means that everything from initial fitting of the braces and regular adjustment visits to the removal of braces, retainers and post-treatment follow up for 1-2 years are all included in the overall fee. As well as there being no hidden expenses along the way, many orthodontists offer payment plans to help you spread out the cost.

To help you understand what you can expect from your orthodontic treatment plan and exactly what you’re paying for, we’ve broken it down line by line below:


One of the expenses the orthodontic fee will cover is the cost of the braces themselves. Braces are quite intricate, with three parts that work together to achieve noticeable results.

There are the brackets, which are attached to the individual teeth with a special glue and are made of surgical quality stainless steel or tooth coloured ceramics; the archwire, which links each bracket and is used to guide the teeth into place; and the ligature elastics or bracket “gates” which lock the archwire into the brackets.

As well as your braces, you might also need adjunct appliances such as a jaw expansion plate or a bite correction appliance as part of your orthodontic treatment. These are high quality pieces of equipment that are custom made.

The material costs really only account for a small proportion of the price you pay for orthodontic treatment, and are certainly not the only things covered by your orthodontist’s fee.

Regular orthodontic visits and your specialist’s time

Once your braces are fitted, you’ll need to visit your orthodontist regularly for them to check your braces are working as they should and make any necessary adjustments. On average, you’ll visit your orthodontist every five to six weeks for a check-up whilst the braces are on, and then every few months whilst you are wearing retainers. That adds up 20-40 appointments over course of your treatment, all of which are covered in your treatment fee.

And, of course, it’s not cheap to set up and run an orthodontic practice that meets all the strict health and safety regulations. To offer you the best treatment in a safe and comfortable environment, ASO orthodontists invest in high-tech dental equipment, including digital x-ray machines, sophisticated 3D intra-oral scanners, state of the art sterilisation equipment as well as high quality dental instruments and materials.

Whether it’s a quick visit or a “major service” where more work is required, your orthodontist, their expert team and high quality equipment will be on hand to make sure your treatment is successful.

Specialist team

As well as undergoing five years of training to become a dentist, an orthodontist has completed an additional three years of full-time specialist training (over 4000 hours) to become an orthodontist. The fee you pay guarantees your kids’ teeth and smile are in the hands of a highly trained expert whose career is entirely focussed on the field orthodontics.

As well as having a wealth of experience, your orthodontist will have the support of a team of highly qualified dental hygienists, therapists, and assistants, office staff, lab technicians and treatment coordinators. This team works together to make sure you get the most from each visit to the orthodontist, and all of them form part of your treatment experience.

braces adjustment cost

Emergency visits

While infrequent, orthodontic emergencies can happen, and emergency visits to your orthodontist are also usually included in the overall price.

You might need to make an emergency appointment with your orthodontist if you experience any sort of dental trauma, for example if you have an accident while playing sport that impacts on your teeth or braces. Additional unscheduled appointments to address minor issues like broken braces or wires are also usually managed without extra fees.

The orthodontic fee you pay ensures that there will be a team on hand to respond to an orthodontic emergency if and when it arises.

Retainers and follow-up appointments

Your orthodontic journey doesn’t stop when your braces come off. It’s likely you’ll need around two to three years of follow-up care to make sure your teeth remain aligned and don’t slip back into their old ways!

The follow-up treatment will initially involve fitting you with retainers to give your teeth the best chance of staying put, all of which is included in the original orthodontist fee.

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Lorraine Di Giusto says:

Thank you for sharing your knowledge through your website. I have a question that I can’t seem to get the answer to. My daughter is now wearing retainers after having her braces removed and has check ups every 6 months or so. On her last check up the orthodontist said that she needs a new retainer because when she had her retainers fitted her gums where swollen (he shows her photos). This will come at a replacement cost of $200 now We had a package deal ($7500) where everything was included apart from replacements due to if retainers were lost or broken. With this in mind I don’t think I should have to pay for a replacement set due to a fitting issue. If he can see in the photos that her gums were swollen then surely they should have waited and fitted them at a later date when her gums weren’t swollen. Can you please advise on how I should approach this with the orthodontist?

Orthodontics Australia says:

Hi Lorraine, Retainers need to be fitted immediately following the removal of braces as teeth are highly likely to shift their position during this time. Gum inflammation (swelling) is common and can take weeks or even months to subside - it varies for every patient and can be impossible to predict how long it will take or what effect it will have on the fit of their retainers. Most orthodontists will include one set of retainers in their package fees and will charge for replacement retainers as required. This is standard procedure, as not every patient will necessarily want or require secondary pairs, so this method ensures you're not paying for additional retainers that you don't receive. It's best to approach your orthodontist / their practice to get further confirmation on your contract and the inclusions of your package.

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