Why are aligners so expensive

New braces or clear aligners - guide for children and adults

Braces are generally not very popular because they change a person's appearance for a long period of time. But many adults put up with them in order to improve crooked teeth or a misalignment of the jaw.

Nowadays, however, there are also subtle or invisible models. In the following article you will get to know the different types of braces and choose the right one for you. You will also receive information about the cost, length of time and possible pain of braces.

Table of Contents

About braces in Germany

According to surveys, every second person in Germany wears braces. It is particularly often used to improve jaw or tooth misalignment in children. Parents in particular are confronted with the costs and types of braces and the search for the right orthodontist at an early age. But adults can also wear braces for aesthetic or medical reasons.

Their invention goes back to Edward Angle, who supposedly laid the medical basis for the clasp model with a tight fit between 1890 and 1920. In the years that followed, different variants such as the removable braces, the active plates, the activator and the bionator were developed. This has been made possible by technical developments such as the advent of plastic materials.

For children under the age of 18, the statutory health insurance pays the costs for orthodontic treatment with braces. It is assumed that the orthodontist confirms the medical necessity of the brace. As a rule, adult patients no longer receive any financial support for the braces from the statutory health insurance.

When and why braces?

Whether crooked teeth, over- or underbite or a temporomandibular joint disorder: Orthodontic treatment can correct a wide variety of problems. Braces can be used for aesthetic and dental reasons.

The ideal time for the medical device is between 10 and 14 years of age. During this period, the child's head and mouth are still growing, making realignment of the teeth and jaw easier. But more and more adults are choosing braces. This has both aesthetic and health reasons. Because at the time when many of today's adults were still at the optimal age for braces, instead of braces, for example, pulling teeth was common practice. As a result, many adults were denied orthodontic treatment, even though it might have been necessary.

The orthodontist determines which patient needs braces. This is done with the help of the orthodontic indication groups (KIG), which divide the necessity into five different categories. This classification is important as the financing of braces for minors by the statutory health insurance is linked to it. This is because this does not cover the cost of braces if they are classified as KIG grades one and two.

KIG degreeMisaligned teethReason for braces
1Slight misaligned teethTreatment for aesthetic reasons, costs are not covered by statutory health insurance
2Minor misaligned teethTreatment for medical reasons, costs are not covered by statutory health insurance
3Pronounced misaligned teeth Treatment for medical reasons
4Pronounced misaligned teeth that require urgent treatmentTreatment for medical reasons
5Extremely pronounced misaligned teethTreatment for medical reasons

All types and prices for braces in comparison

In addition to the well-known fixed braces with external brackets, dentistry nowadays offers a large selection of different brace models. There are also some variants that can be particularly attractive to adults due to their discreet look.

Depending on the type of braces and the treatment goal, the length of time a patient has to wear the braces also varies. Loose models are foreseen for a shorter treatment period, while fixed braces can remain in the patient's mouth for up to three years. Retainers can also be used for different lengths of time.

The following table provides an overview of the common types of braces and lists both the duration of treatment and the respective costs. All factors depend on the treatment goal and the degree of the deformity.

bracesAverage duration of treatmentAverage cost
Aligners (invisible braces)9-18 months3.500 - 6.500 €
Fixed braces36-108 months2.500 - 8.000 €
Lingual braces (fixed, invisible)18-36 months6.000 - 10.000 €
Activator (loose braces)12-24 months1.000 - 1.500 €
Active plate (loose braces)18 months1.000 - 1.500 €
Bionator (loose braces)9-12 months1.000 - 1.500 €
Jaw braces (loose braces)18-24 monthsfrom 500 €
Outside clip / headgear24 Months1.500 - 5.000 €
Retainer looseindividuallyfrom 300 €
Retainer firmlyindividuallyfrom 300 €

Invisible braces / clear aligners

The clear aligner is, so to speak, invisible braces (also called transparent braces). It consists of a plastic splint for the upper and lower jaw, which is both removable and transparent. This makes the Clear Aligner a particularly popular type of braces, as it is discreet and can be removed for eating. The costs for aligners differ between providers and the extent of the misaligned teeth: zbetween 1,700 and 6,500 euros you should plan for invisible braces.

The individual adjustment of the clear aligner takes place on the basis of a previously made plaster model or a 3D scan. Based on this, the treatment plan is drawn up, which sometimes determines the regular change of splints and the duration of treatment. In most cases, between 20 and 50 different invisible aligners can be used, each worn for about one to three weeks and then exchanged. The total duration of treatment for Clear Aligner averages between 9 and 18 months, but it also depends on the individual misalignment of the teeth.

A alternative Orthodontists now offer different treatments to conventional treatments Online supplier of clear aligners. These also record the patient's teeth using a 3D scan at a partner's dentist or with an impression set at home and then assess whether and how the patient can be treated. On average, almost everyone can be treated with a few exceptions. For this, the patients receive an individual treatment plan with a denture simulation and their aligners conveniently delivered to their home. Dentists are available to monitor success and accompany the entire process.

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The enterprise PlusDental * offers its clients three different treatment packages based on the complexity of the treatment. The prices of the packages move between 1,690 and 2,690 euros for the entire treatment. The patients start free and without obligation at one of the partner dentists in your area, at which a On-site 3D scan is carried out. A treatment plan is drawn up based on the results of the scan. If the patient decides to continue with this, the aligners are then individually made in the PlusDental dental laboratory in Berlin according to the patient's requirements. The cost of the treatment plans can be relaxed in either monthly rates or paid directly as a total and the first successes of corrections are visible from 3 months.

Fixed braces

This model is a classic of the braces and is often used by children and adolescents, but also by adults. The price is the firm clasp between 2,500 and 8,000 euros. However, the final costs are also related to individual requirements, such as the material of the brackets. Fixed braces are preferred for correcting severe tooth misalignments, which is why the treatment often lasts 36 to 108 months.

How long the fixed braces actually have to be worn in the end depends on the individual patient and their dental problem. The fixed clasp is attached by gluing the brackets - i.e. the metal clips - onto the teeth and stretching wires between them. So-called retainers can be used after the tooth correction. These prevent the teeth from shifting again.

Fixed lingual braces inside (invisible)

The fixed lingual braces are the counterpart to the fixed braces: With the former, the brackets are attached to the inside of the teeth so that they cannot be seen from the outside. This variant is particularly popular with adults who want to avoid external changes over the course of the treatment for professional or private reasons. The lingual braces are also used for severe tooth misalignments.

Adjusting and attaching lingual braces is comparatively more complex. For this reason, this variant is included in the price around 3,000 to 10,000 euros depending on the individual treatment goal. From a medical point of view, the invisible braces do not bring any advantages and only serve the comfort of the patient in everyday life.

Loose braces

The term “loose braces” serves as a super-category for braces that are not permanently attached in the mouth and are removable. Common, loose models are, for example, the activator, the bionator and the active plate. The costs for a removable braces model usually start at 500 euros and are heavily dependent on individual wishes and the treatment goal.

In children in particular, loose braces are often used, as this treatment method is very promising due to the continued growth phase of the adolescent. Accordingly, the duration of treatment with the medical aid is between around 9 and 36 months. However, this information depends on the type of loose braces and the patient's wear routine.


The so-called activator consists of a plastic plate and is provided with wire extensions. These reach into the area of ​​the upper and lower jaw, so that the teeth “bite” into the frame and the braces get hold. The activator is mainly used in the event of an over- or underbite. Both jaws should move towards each other with the involvement of the muscles. For this reason, this variant of the loose braces is mainly used in the treatment of children.

The cost of an activator start at around 1,000 euros and depend, among other things, on individual aspects of the patient. The braces are usually worn between 12 and 36 months, although fixed braces can be considered if the treatment is unsuccessful. In principle, however, activators can achieve good results from a medical point of view.

Active plate

To stretch the jaw, to give the teeth more space and to move them in a certain direction, the orthodontist often uses an active plate. This plastic plate is provided with adjusting screws, which contribute to the enlargement or reduction of the surface of the plate in the course of the treatment period.

The adjustment of the active plate by means of adjusting screws takes place in the course of the regular control appointments. Since this braces model also influences the mouth, which is still growing, the active plate is increasingly being used with children. The cost is at 1,000 to 1,500 euros and the duration of treatment is approximately 18 months.


The Bionator is also increasingly used for the orthodontic treatment of children. Compared to the activator, however, the plastic content of this type of braces is lower. Furthermore, the Bionator also has a so-called palatal bow, which is supposed to correct the position of the tongue in the mouth.

The costs for a Bionator are also as high as for other loose braces: 1,000 to 1,500 euros Patients should calculate, the price depending on the individual tooth and jaw misalignment of a person. The Bionator is worn for an average of 9 to 12 months.

Jaw brace and external brace (headgear)

Jaw braces are available from 500 euros. The loose braces can exert pressure on the roof of the mouth or tension on the jaw in order to influence the bite position or jaw growth. The jaw brace is usually worn by children for a period of 18 to 24 months. This type of braces is often confused with the so-called headgear, a brace that is attached to the outside of the mouth and neck.

The headgear is one of the external braces and generally does not enjoy a good reputation due to its appearance. However, external braces usually only need to be worn a few hours a day and only at home. The cost of this model of braces amounts to to 1,500 to 5,000 euros. The maximum treatment time with a headgear is also around 24 months.

Retainer after the braces

Retainers - these are tooth stabilizers that are mainly used after treatment with loose or fixed braces. They are intended to prevent the treatment result from being deformed again. In addition to loose retainers, a distinction is made between solid stabilizers. Loose versions are worn for 24 hours at the beginning, then only at night. They are available as an activator-like model or as a plastic rail.

Fixed retainers are glued to the inside of the teeth and often remain there for a lifetime. As a result, the result of a laborious orthodontic treatment is also secured for life, which is why the fixed version is usually the more attractive solution. Both loose and fixed retainers are from around 300 euros available.

What costs does the health insurance company cover?

For the orthodontic treatment of children and adolescents, the statutory health insurance pays 80 percent of the costs immediately. This happens under the condition that the orthodontist considers the planned measure for braces to be medically necessary and classifies the patient's misalignment as KIG grade 3, 4 or 5.

If such a classification takes place, parents pay 20 percent of the costs as their own contribution, which they are reimbursed after the successful treatment. The following example is intended to illustrate this division of costs: Fixed braces cost 6,000 euros. Of this, the statutory health insurance pays 4,800 euros, 1,200 euros are paid by the parents.

However, this rule does not apply to adults. Statutory health insurance only pays the costs for patients of legal age if, in addition to extreme tooth misalignment, a surgical procedure has to be carried out. Such treatment for an adult would fall into KIG group 4 or 5. The cost of correcting slight misaligned teeth for aesthetic reasons must be borne entirely by patients themselves.

Experience and pain with braces

The experiences that individual patients have with braces are as individual as the different models. This relates to the feeling of wearing as well as the pain and feeling of pressure from wearing a brace. What causes one problem will not be noticed by another.

Fixed braces in particular can cause problems for patients at the beginning, as the body first has to get used to the foreign material in the mouth. On the other hand, the permanent pressure of the brace can cause pain at the beginning. However, patients also report rapid progress with a fixed brace.

The loose braces are often described as the most pain-free variant, as they either cannot or must not be worn permanently. This makes it possible for the brace to release pressure in the meantime. This is another reason why it is particularly popular with children and young people.

Experience with bracesLoose bracesFixed braces
PainBasically individual, thanks to optional breaks in wearing it is less painfulBasically individual, associated with pain due to the permanent pressure
Wearing time9 - 24 months18-108 months
Patient comfortHigh because it can be removedMedium to high, depending on the version
successGuaranteed if worn consistentlyGuaranteed, after a short time

Braces for adults

Basically, there are no braces that have been specially designed for the treatment of adults. So these are the same models as when using children. However, the clear aligner, i.e. invisible braces, is particularly popular among adults, as it enables them to deal with their private and professional environment without external changes.

In addition to the clear aligner, the lingual braces represent another, subtle type of brace that is mainly used by adults. As already described, it sits on the inside of the teeth so that neither colleagues nor friends can guess it. However, this type of brace is also associated with considerable costs, so that the clear aligner is, on average, the significantly more cost-effective variant.

Conventional, fixed braces can also be modified so that adults can wear them. The brackets used for this are usually made of stainless steel. For an additional charge, however, you can choose brackets made of plastic, the shade of which can be adapted to your natural tooth color. The use of so-called mini brackets also makes the braces more discreet, but also increases the price. Expect additional costs of 6 to 45 euros per tooth.

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