Grin and Bear It: Paying for Braces

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Take some of the bite out of paying for braces by with our smart, preventative tips.

Any parent of a dentally-challenged teenager knows the perils and pitfalls of paying for braces. It’s expensive and often unfamiliar terrain for budget and health-conscious parents to navigate. To ease the pain, financially, at least, here are some tips.

According to CareCredit.com, a dental health care provider, the average cost of braces is in the $5,000 to $6,000 range (this website has a good “dental cost” calculator — just type in your hometown and orthodontists). While prices vary, the best way to get a jump on paying for braces can be summed up in one key word — preparation.

A visit to an orthodontist while your son or daughter is still in the five- to 10-year-old range can help screen your child for the likelihood of braces. For a few hundred dollars, a good orthodontist can offer preventive measures that may eliminate the need for braces entirely. If your child has a hole or two in his or her baby teeth, plugging the cavity right away can help support overall teeth structure for the permanent teeth on the way. Also, a good regimen of fluoride treatment, including twice-yearly treatments and regular brushing with fluoride toothpaste, can help strengthen teeth and prevent the crowding and spacing issues that often pave the way for braces.

If you don’t catch the “gateway” issues that lead to braces, you can at least plan to reduce the costs of paying for them. Here’s how.

  • Dental insurance. Not all dental plans have them, but coverage for braces is available with the right plan. When you begin reviewing dental insurance packages, focus on coverage associated with orthodontists — the dental industry’s moniker for a doctor who fits patients for braces. By and large, you’ll have to pony up roughly half the cost of a set of braces on a supplementary dental insurance plan. But 50% off is still a very good deal.
  • Dental discount programs. Another great way to save on braces is through a dental discount program. National dental discount plans can offer access to thousands of dentists and orthodontists for as little as $20 per month. A group like DentalPlans.com offers dental discount packages that can slice 20% off the price of braces for participating members.
  • Canvass your local area for good deals. Friends, neighbors, family and co-workers are great ways to find local deals via “word of mouth.” It’s a tough economy and even orthodontists will cut prices to get your business. For example, DiscountDentalbraces in Houston offers savings between $1,000 and $2,000 on certain braces.

Another way to save on costs, with some extra risk, is to use a younger orthodontist who may charge less to get his or her business up and running. Or, ask your current dentist if he or she will chop 10% off if you can provide a confirmed referral.

Paying for braces is the financial equivalent of root canal, but if you get on top of the situation (the earlier the better) using the tips listed above, you’ll take some of the bite out of paying for braces.

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