How Can I Pay for Braces?

Photo of a pretty young girl smiling with braces on.

The cost of braces (which we discussed in a previous post) is dependent on a range of factors. It is good to know the exact cost of your braces before you make the commitment.

Equally important is to explore all options before it comes time to pay for braces. Braces and other orthodontic services can be a significant financial investment, and it is good to know what’s available.

Dental Insurance

A lot of patients (and patients’ parents) assume that dental insurance means orthodontic insurance. But not all dental insurance is created equal. Some dental plans don’t include orthodontic services, and others do so to a limited extent.

Although not as inclusive as medical insurance, some dental plans will help to defray the costs of orthodontic treatment—usually between 25-50%. There are lists of the best dental health insurance providers (like this one from ebraces.com), but do some of your own research to see what suits your needs.

Before choosing a provider, it pays to do your homework. This fairhealthconsumer.org report will help, outlining some basic information regarding dental plans.

Here are a few things to consider when looking at dental plans that cover orthodontic services:

  • the type of plan
  • does it cover most orthodontic services (there are more than just braces)
  • how much it covers
  • if your orthodontist accepts it
  • is there an age limit
  • if it is a fee-for-service plan, what are the parameters and procedures
  • in-network and out-of-network costs (and if it affects the lifetime maximum)

Any insurance can be a complicated process to navigate, so don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions in order to understand exactly what is involved.

Payment plans

Talk to your orthodontist. Many orthodontists (like Orthodontist Associates) offer flexible plans that span the length of the treatment to help you space out the payment process.

Ordinarily it works like an installment plan, with a down payment of varying amounts pending a credit check. And if you can pay the whole amount up front, many orthodontists will offer a discount.

Flexible Savings Account and Health Savings Account

As dental plans only cover a limited lifetime amount, these types of pre-tax dollar accounts can be a wonderful way to offset the costs of braces. Plan for how you want to pay (increments or lump sum) and plan accordingly.

You will need also to look at the fine print to make sure you understand the documentation requirements. And remember, this money can only be used once treatment has been provided.

Other Options

There are some additional options that make paying for braces and a healthy smile more affordable.

Charitable Organizations

The most well documented is the Smiles Change Lives non-profit organization that helps children (10-18 years old) in low-income households.

Not all practices participate in these programs, however, and families will be asked for documentation as well as a financial contribution.

Dental Schools

The benefit of opting for a dental school is that the costs of your braces will be discounted. The potential downside is that although your orthodontic treatment is supervised by an experienced doctor, you are still under the direct care of a trainee.

Dental Discount Plans

These plans offer discounts on certain procedures, which are paid after the procedure is completed. But beware the fine print. They often come with waiting periods and pre-existing conditions clauses.

There are also ordinarily fewer options for specialized services, and you aren’t always guaranteed to see the same doctor at each visit.

Third Party Carriers

If your orthodontist’s payment plan doesn’t quite fit your need or timeframe, third party carriers will help you to extend that payment period beyond the length of treatment. This service usually comes with a monthly service charge. Check to see if the interest fee is less than a credit card, which can help to reduce overall costs.

If you are interested in discussing your financing and treatment options, Orthodontic Associates’ friendly staff and experienced doctors are available at nine convenient locations around Baltimore to help you. Contact us to set up your initial consultation. We look forward to making you smile!


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