Straight teeth are aesthetically pleasing, easier to clean, and achievable through the treatment of braces. This common orthodontic treatment straightens your teeth over a period of time by applying pressure to targeted teeth so they will align properly. While improved versions of braces have been correcting patients’ bad bites and crooked teeth since as far back as the early 20th century, the treatment of braces continues to be an expensive orthodontic process.
For parents or individuals preparing to pay for braces, knowing what orthodontic financing options are available can help make this important orthodontic treatment more affordable.
Does Insurance Pay for Braces?
Though it is common to see teens and some adults with a mouth full of metal brackets, braces remain one of the more expensive dental procedures. While the benefit of braces extends beyond appearance, dental insurance does not always offer much coverage for orthodontics.
According to the American Dental Association’s 2020 Survey of Dental Fees, the cost of comprehensive traditional metal braces is between $4,500-$6,600.
While all dental insurance plans are different, some policies will cover up to 50% of the cost of braces for your children, but it is less likely to offer coverage for you and your spouse. With insurance, traditional metal braces cost between $1,500-$3,500.
Be sure to read the fine print of your policy because there may be a coverage maximum for orthodontic treatment. If more than one of your children needs braces, consider spacing out treatment so that the insurance company does not reach the limit where they discontinue to pay for orthodontic costs until the policy is renewed the following year. It is also possible that your employer provides optional orthodontic supplemental coverage to help pay for the cost of braces.
Medicaid can also help with orthodontic costs, depending on your state and if braces are deemed medically necessary.
Tips for Budgeting Orthodontic Treatment
With the high cost of braces, creating a budget can help you put aside the money you need to pay for the treatment. Making good decisions before treatment begins can drastically lower overall costs and make your bill more affordable. A few important things to keep in mind before starting treatment include:
- Shop around for the right orthodontist for your needs. Be sure to look at two or three orthodontists before choosing which suits you best.
- Examine the fees for braces carefully before starting treatment. Some orthodontists do not include all necessary parts of treatment in the initial price they give you. It is crucial to add up all expenses to see the total price for braces before you decide which orthodontist to use. Make sure you know the price for all treatment components, including:
- Regular adjustments
- A set of retainers when braces are removed
- Check with a local dental school to see if they offer orthodontic treatments at a discounted price.
- Read over your dental insurance plan carefully to see what type of coverage you can expect, if any.
Then, after you have a better idea of what the total cost will be, make sure you ask the orthodontist about:
- Payment due dates
- Discounts for paying for braces upfront
- Cost of down payment if your orthodontist requires it
- Payment plans and what the monthly payment amount will be
- Possible braces financing options offered by the orthodontist
Knowing specifically what to expect regarding the cost of braces will help you know how much money to budget each month.
Braces Monthly Payment Plans
One way to pay for braces for yourself or your child is to ask the orthodontic practice if they have any in-house payment plans. Instead of paying for orthodontic care upfront in a lump sum, the orthodontist you are using will likely allow you to divide the total into more affordable monthly payments.
Because of the large cost of treatment, many orthodontists offer this in-house payment plan for braces. Knowing what to expect to pay each month enables you to work the cost of braces into your monthly budget more easily. Some orthodontists will let you also pick the duration of the payments. A longer time frame allows your monthly bill to be smaller. Because braces typically require a year or longer to fully realign teeth, you can potentially finish making all your payments before the treatment has concluded.
Additional Payment Options
If your insurance plan does not cover braces or if you don’t have dental insurance, paying for braces for yourself or your children can still be well within reach.
There are several other payment options for braces that you can use with or without dental insurance to make the treatment more affordable, including:
- Healthcare credit card: Applying for a credit card specifically for health care and dental care can allow you to pay for your braces treatment upfront to get possible special discounts from your orthodontist's office.
- Dental discount plan: While having a dental discount plan works well with dental insurance, it can also be very helpful on its own. By paying a fee for yourself or your family, you could get access to a significant percentage off of your total orthodontic bill and also have less out-of-pocket costs at each appointment.
- Health Savings Account (HSA): If you have access to an insurance policy through your employer with a high deductible health plan, whether or not it covers dental, you can also get a health savings account that pulls a certain amount from your check before taxes are taken out. As your HSA accumulates, you can use the money without penalty for health and dental costs if they are considered medically necessary.
- Flexible Savings Account (FSA): Through your employer, you can open a FSA that can reimburse you for medical and dental expenses, like braces, that are not covered by your insurance plan. Your monthly contributions to the FSA come out of your paycheck before taxes are taken out and can be used for your spouse and children as well. However, funds in your FSA do not roll over to the following year and do not go with you if you change jobs.
- Automatic monthly payment options: While splitting up the total cost of braces into more affordable monthly payments is very helpful, some orthodontists even offer automatic payment options so you can be sure that you won’t miss a payment and get charged a late payment fee.
Accessing Braces Payment Plan Despite Financial Concerns
While the cost of braces can be initially daunting, there are many different ways to pay for braces without financially straining your budget. Many Americans are in the same boat and cannot pay for the entirety of the orthodontist bill at the beginning of treatment. For this reason, orthodontists are ready for your financing questions and are prepared to help you break the bill down into more affordable payment options.
Communication with the orthodontist's office is key to accessing these financing options. Be sure to keep them in the know if you should run into financial hardship during the period of orthodontic treatment. By going directly through an orthodontist's office for financing options, you may be offered more personalized help to afford the treatment you need.
To gain access to financing help through an orthodontist in your community, Smile Generation offers a way to find the best orthodontist for your needs. Sift through reviews from satisfied patients who received the treatment they needed and the personalized financing options that made braces more affordable.
- Abendroth, Marie, "Average Cost of Braces After Insurance." Consumer Affairs, 1 July 2022, https://www.consumeraffairs.com/health/average-cost-of-braces.html
- "Braces." MouthHealthy, 19 Sept. 2023, https://www.mouthhealthy.org/all-topics-a-z/braces/
- Wahl, Norman, "Orthodontic in 3 Millennia. Chapter 1: Antiquity in the Mid-19th Century." American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, Feb. 2005, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0889540604010030
- "2020 Survey of Dental Fees." ADA, 2020, https://ebusiness.ada.org/Assets/docs/85994.pdf
Smile Generation blog articles are reviewed by a licensed dental professional before publishing. However, we present this information for educational purposes only with the intent to promote readers’ understanding of oral health and oral healthcare treatment options and technology. We do not intend for our blog content to substitute for professional dental care and clinical advice, diagnosis, or treatment planning provided by a licensed dental professional. Smile Generation always recommends seeking the advice of a dentist, physician, or other licensed healthcare professional for a dental or medical condition or treatment.