What's the Cheapest Way to Straighten Your Teeth?

Clinical Content Reviewed by Byte Licensed DDS
Last Modified:

Table of Contents

  1. Metal Braces
  2. Invisalign
  3. Ceramic Braces
  4. Lingual Braces
  5. Retainers
  6. Financing Options
  7. Risking Your Health
  8. Benefits of Using Aligners
  9. How to Choose the Right Option
  10. Frequently Asked Questions

The cheapest way to straighten your teeth is generally with at-home aligners. These typically cost $2,000 to $5,000, but some options, like Byte, cost as little as $2,099.

Plenty of low-cost options exist that can straighten your teeth and highlight your smile. But you must choose carefully, as some methods aren't right for everyone, and others can leave you with residual damage.

Braces, aligners, and retainers could all help to straighten your teeth, but the prices vary significantly from one product to another.

We'll walk through all of your teeth straightening options here, so you can make the decision that's right for your mouth. This chart can help you understand your options at a glance.



Average treatment time

Best use 

All-Day Byte Aligners


4 months

Very effective on minor to moderate issues, such as crowding, incorrect spacing, and rotating teeth

Night-Only Byte Aligners


5 months

Ideal for mild dental issues, such as crowding or gapping

Metal Braces


2 years

Best for significant problems, such as missing teeth, severe crowding, or loose teeth



1 year

Effective in treating mild or moderate issues like overbite, underbite, open bite, and gapped teeth

Ceramic Braces


2 years

As effective as metal braces, but best for people who want a less conspicuous form of treatment

Lingual Braces


2 years

As effective as metal braces, but best for people who want an invisible form of braces




Best at keeping teeth from moving after orthodontic treatment ends

All-Day Byte Aligners: $2,099

Keep your teeth in treatment during the majority of your day and night. Take the aligner trays out while you’re cleaning or caring for your oral health, but wear the trays at all other times. 

We’ve honed and refined this model to keep costs as low as possible. Prepare to pay $2,099 for this version of aligners.

Get Started With Byte

Night-Only Byte Aligners: $2,499

We utilize telemedicine at Byte to keep costs low. Our customers still have exceptional care from trained dental professionals. But we skip the overhead associated with in-person visits. Our night-only teeth aligners are one product line we offer.

Wear your aligners for at least 10 continuous hours, and let your teeth feel free during the day. This option is best for people with mildly crooked teeth. We send you plenty of aligners, so you can stay on track with your treatment. Prepare to pay $2,499 for Byte at Night™.

Braces, aligners, and retainers could all help to straighten your teeth, but the prices vary significantly from one product to another

Metal Braces: $4,500

Let a medical professional glue metal brackets to the front of your teeth and connect them with wires. People have used this tooth-straightening method for years, and while it's unsightly and uncomfortable, it can be remarkably effective. 

People who opt for braces often have significant dental health problems, such as these:

  • Missing teeth: Neighboring molars move into the gaps left behind, and teams must pull these wanderers back into position.

  • Densely crowded teeth: The mouth doesn't have enough space for all of the teeth involved. Some are pulled, and the rest are pushed into the right spots.

  • Injuries: A blow severed some teeth at the roots, or some teeth are loose due to an underlying jaw problem.

Metal braces can fix these issues, but orthodontists must supervise the work very carefully. Each appointment adds to your final bill. Prepare to pay $4,500 for traditional braces.

Invisalign: $5,500

Slide plastic trays over your teeth to straighten them, and visit your dentist often for checkups and new trays. That's the treatment model for Invisalign. While it's effective, it can also be expensive.

Dentists and orthodontists have overhead charges. They must keep their offices clean and staffed, and they must stock products for their visitors. Choose Invisalign, and all of those costs are tacked onto your treatment plan. Prepare to pay about $5,500 for Invisalign.

Ceramic Braces: $6,000

You don't want people to see your metal braces, but you're not prepared to pay the high fees associated with a lingual application. Ceramic braces could be a good choice.

Your dentist uses brackets that are white, just like your teeth. Wires connect the brackets and pull your smile into the right shape. The mechanism is the same, whether you choose metal or ceramics. But the look of your mouth during treatment is different.

Prepare to pay about $6,000 for ceramic braces. And you might pay more if your delicate brackets are damaged by these things:

  • Food: Hard candies, crispy chips, and sticky gum can all loosen your brackets, even causing them to come off your teeth.

  • Drinks: Ice can bump against your brackets and damage them.

  • Injuries: If you play sports and an errant ball or elbow hits your mouth, your braces could take the hit and break.

Anytime your team must fix your braces, you must pay. And since ceramic is less durable than metal, repairs are more common with this type of application.

Lingual Braces: $9,000

Wires and brackets typically sit on the front of your teeth when you opt for braces. Choose lingual versions instead, and all the hardware will sit on the back of your teeth. No one will see your braces when you smile.

Lingual braces take time to apply, and every appointment takes longer too. All of that extra work adds to your final bill.

Expect to pay about $9,000 for lingual braces. This is one of the most expensive tooth-straightening options out there.

Retainers: $300

You've had braces or aligners before, and you were nothing at all. But it's likely you'll pay about $300 for retainers because most people lose them due to these reasons:

  • Poor storage: If you keep your retainers in sunlight or hot conditions, the plastic could warp or melt.

  • Accidents: Stepping on your retainer could break it, and that could make it unusable.

  • Tooth movement: If you haven't worn your retainer in months or years, you could break it while trying to slide it over your teeth.

Retainers won't work for everyone’s teeth, but if your teeth are only slightly crooked, they might.

How to Choose the Right Teeth Straightening Option for Your Budget

With so many products and treatments available, how do you find the cheapest way to straighten your teeth? Following a few simple, common-sense steps can help you make a smart decision.

Here’s how to choose the right product:

  • Get a medical assessment. Some of the products we’ve mentioned are ideal for mild problems and inappropriate for significant issues. Others are too severe (and expensive) for mild problems. Before you choose a product, understand what dental professionals think is appropriate for your mouth.

  • Explore your options. Do you have a financing option picked out? Does the company you want to work with accept that form of payment? Do they offer another option instead? Narrow your search by determining how discounts and payments can combine.

  • Consider your lifestyle. Some options (like braces) aren’t ideal for people who play contact sports. Others (like aligners) aren’t made for forgetful people who won’t follow a treatment plan. Think hard about how your choice will fit into your life.

  • Crunch the numbers. You’ve settled on a product. Now, consider how you’ll pay for it. Will small shifts (like cutting out on eating out) help put the price within reach? How much is a great smile worth to you?

Financing Options for Teeth Straightening

The investments you make in your smile will last for years, but paying the bill isn’t always easy. Plenty of financing options exist, and using them could ease the sting.

The following financing options may be available:

  • Private financing: Many orthodontist offices and at-home aligner companies offer financing to make the process of paying for treatment easier. Essentially, the cost of your teeth straightening will be spread out over a longer period, often in manageable monthly payments.

  • Flexible spending account (FSA): If your employer provides an FSA, you’ll have a tax-free account filled with money set aside for qualified medical expenses. Most plans require people to spend their FSA money within the plan year or you lose it. Many types of orthodontic care are considered FSA eligible.

  • Health savings account (HSA): A health savings account also allows you to set aside money for approved health expenses. Unlike an FSA, you don’t have to spend all of your HSA funds in the same year. However, you can use those dollars to pay for dental care.

  • Private loans: Companies like CareCredit specialize in small loans to assist people with medical bills. If you don’t have another way to pay for treatment, this can be a good option.

Applying for credit with private financing or loans is typically as easy as filling out a form on your computer or phone. Companies check your trustworthiness, and if you’re approved, your funds are available immediately. Beware of applying for too many loans at once, as each credit check could harm your credit score.

It’s not as easy to apply for an FSA or HSA, as these accounts are typically tied to employment. Ask your company’s human resources manager if you’re eligible to enroll in these plans if you haven’t done so already.

Don’t Risk Your Health

You want straighter teeth, and you also want to save money. Should you try DIY approaches to save money? It's not usually a good idea. 

For example, some people slip rubber bands on their teeth and tighten them to move their teeth together. This could lead to deep infections, as the bands could ride up your teeth and into your gums. You could end up paying more in restorative dental care than you ever planned to spend.

Some people also look for braces on the black market, and they put them on at home. These aren't medical devices, and they could trigger infections that sit beneath your gums and necessitate medical care.

Benefits of Using Aligners to Straighten your Teeth

While at-home aligners are often the cheapest option for correcting a mild or moderate orthodontic issue, the benefits that aligners offer go far beyond affordability. These are other advantages:

  • Fast results: Many top aligner providers offer an average treatment time of four to six months.

  • Less noticeable treatment: Aligners are made of clear plastic (or plastic-like) material and slip over teeth, making them virtually invisible.

  • Removable: While braces feature brackets that are cemented onto teeth, clear aligners are taken off to eat and perform daily oral hygiene. They can also be taken off for special events like an interview.

  • Convenience: Some at-home aligners offer virtual doctor-monitored treatment plans from start to finish, meaning you can straighten your teeth without leaving the comfort of your own home.

  • Modern appeal: Some aligner providers utilize cutting-edge technology to make treatment as effective and manageable as possible. Byte, for example, offers an award-winning app that allows users to track aligner progress and interact with clinical and support staff. Plus, each Byte aligner kit comes with a HyperByte device — a high-frequency massage tool. Massage tools like this have been shown to improve aligner performance and comfort.1

Frequently Asked Questions

These are the questions we often hear about the cheapest way to straighten teeth:

It depends. People with mild teeth issues could use aligners for just a few months, while those with severe problems might wear braces for years. Any company you choose to work with should tell you how long your treatment plan will last when you sign up for care.

Most of the tooth straightening options we’ve discussed cause at least some pain. Over-the-counter pain medications (like aspirin) and topical pain relief (like Anbesol) can be very helpful. Your choices matter, too For example, if you opt for lingual braces over standard versions, you’ll likely experience more pain. Ask your provider what to expect before treatment starts.

It depends. If you’re using aligners, you can take your trays out to eat and drink. As long as you clean your teeth before you put the trays back in, you can eat anything. Braces are different. Sticky, hard, or acidic foods could damage them. You might be asked to avoid foods like popcorn, chewing gum, and soda while you’re getting care.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to serve as dental or other professional health advice and is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or symptom. You should consult a dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.