If you’re considering getting braces, there’s a good chance you’ve started to do some comparison shopping. One dentist in town charges $3,500 for braces, while the orthodontist across the road charges $2,500. Why the big price point difference? Do braces really have to cost so much?
When you sit down to crunch the numbers, most orthodontic treatments can be paid for if you skip eating out a couple of times a week, giving up that coffee-house beverage (just brew it on your own) …or if you have great dental insurance, less than $100/month.
The truth is that investing in a straighter smile can save you thousands in dental work later on. Crowded, misaligned teeth are usually far more likely to experience cavities or gum disease. By the time you’ve paid for a deep cleaning and a couple of crowns, you could have had a straighter and healthier smile (without the shots!)
Costs of Different Types of Braces and Orthodontics
The type of braces you choose will be the biggest factor in cost. A general rule of thumb is that conventional metal braces are typically cheaper than a clear, removable alignment system (like Invisalign). However, the more advanced some of these treatments become, the price gap is becoming narrower. Where clear braces might have been double the cost of metal braces 10 years ago, that’s not quite the case anymore. The difference may be as little as a few hundred dollars total.
“Fast” style braces are significantly cheaper than full mouth comprehensive orthodontics. That’s because they serve a cosmetic purpose, aligning the teeth at the front of the mouth, only. Seeing braces for under $1,000 advertised may indicate that it’s for aesthetic-specific tooth misalignment.
Length of Treatment
How long your orthodontic treatment takes will impact your overall cost of braces. For instance, if you’re getting cosmetic braces to fix your front teeth only, it won’t take as much time as a more comprehensive treatment would. With fewer appointments (six months versus 12-18 months) there isn’t as much “labor” for your dentist to pay for.
Keep in mind, your dentist still has materials to purchase, lab fees to pay for, overhead expenses to run their office, and needs to earn a profit (like any business would) but shorter treatments will generally be more affordable.
Getting Dental Insurance to Pay for Orthodontics
Each dental insurance plan covers different procedures at varying rates. For instance, one policy might cover 50% of orthodontic treatment, where another covers 30%.
Other considerations to think about include maximum allowable (the total amount your insurance will pay for each year) and deductibles. If your policy requires a $500 deductible and will cover 50% of braces treatments up to $2,000 total, you will still have to pay the $500 first, before your benefits “kick in” on the rest. If the treatment costs $3,000, your benefits will run out before the entire orthodontic case is paid for.
Some dental insurance policies will also dictate the age of the patient covered. Your orthodontist or dentist can verify the benefits prior to initiating treatment so that you’re not caught off guard. One example is a plan that covers braces but only up to age 18. Other plans may cover braces on anyone over 7 years of age, even adults. These details vary from policy to policy.
It’s best to work with your orthodontic provider to make sure the type of treatment you or your child is getting will be something that falls under your benefit plan.
Discounts on Braces Without Insurance
Some orthodontists offer discounts on treatment if you pay for them up front. Usually, a paid-in-full cash discount will save you anywhere from 3-7% on the total price.
Most braces providers will break the treatment up into affordable monthly installments. Either you can keep a credit card on file or have them auto-draft the amount from your checking account each month. For people that don’t have insurance or aren’t able to pay for the entire amount up front, this is usually the most common choice.
However, another alternative to paying for braces without insurance is to join a dental savings plan. The discount programs through Aetna Dental Offers allow members to save anywhere from 15-50% on treatments like braces, dental checkups, x-rays, and more. While it’s not a dental insurance plan, it is an affordable alternative that works just as well for most people that don’t have access to coverage through their employer.
Find out how much you can save on braces with a dental savings plan from Aetna Dental Offers. Contact us today to join or locate a provider in your area!