Planning for the cost of braces

By: NewsCenter16 Staff Email
By: NewsCenter16 Staff Email

If you think your child may need braces, be prepared to spend thousands of dollars. But there are some ways to plan for the cost.

Kelsey Vergon and her two brothers have all worn braces or retainers and their mother was surprised at the steep cost.

"Orthodontia can be expensive,” said Tamara Vergon. “My husband always jokes that that's his motorcycle in their mouths. The motorcycle that he won't have now for a while. They were all about the same and the total was right around $18,000 between 18 and 20 thousand for all three. So it was very expensive."

And it’s not just the cost you have to worry about.

"When planning for the cost of braces you need to think about the entire process of getting braces,” said Angie Hicks, founder of Angie’s List. “A lot of times people think about the cost for the braces alone, but there could be dental work that needs to be done ahead of time so keep that in mind. Do they need any teeth pulled or a deep cleaning? Also, don't forget a lot of times after braces there is a retainer that children need to wear as well and if they lose it, you're going to add that to your bill as well."

If you do have to replace a retainer, that can cost hundreds of dollars too.

"All patients get retainers when the braces come off,” said orthodontist Dr. Robert A. Stoner. “Most patients get removable retainers and they wear the top retainer full time for about six months to a year and I have them wear the bottom retainer every night."

Before you get braces for your child, carefully consider the orthodontist you want to choose.

"When selecting your orthodontist you don't want to rely on price alone,” said Hicks. “Braces will typically cost anywhere from $4,000 to $7,000. Also check the credentials of the orthodontist. How long have they been practicing? Are they are member of the American Board of Orthodontists? And do they accept your insurance. These are all important factors in making your decision."

Not all orthodontists are going to charge the same price, so be savvy and shop around.

Because you don’t want to get bitten by a bad experience with braces.


Braces effectively position and align your teeth by consistently exerting pressure to move them.
According to the American Association of Orthodontists, treatment for braces begins between ages 9 and 14, and an increasing number of adults are getting braces, too.

The following factors can affect the cost of your dental investment.
• Types of braces: Braces come in a variety of types, which directly determine how much you'll pay. It's best to do your research on the pros and cons of each before making a decision.
• Dental issues: In addition to getting braces and having them adjusted, dental preparation is often needed and will affect your overall cost. Sometimes you'll need standard dental work, like a deep cleaning or filling replacement, before the orthodontist puts your braces on. In some cases, you'll require teeth extractions to facilitate the movement of your teeth. If you need to wear headgear before brackets and wires are put on your teeth, this will increase the cost. You may also need to buy a retainer after the braces are removed to keep your teeth from returning to their original spot.
• Length of service: The more preparation and dental work you require, the longer the process will take to complete, and the more you'll pay. Once your braces are on, you typically have to see the dentist once a month to have the braces adjusted. The longer the process drags out, the costlier it will be.
• The dentist: Not all orthodontists charge the same prices for their services. Things such as operational overhead will affect how much they charge. Money saving tip: Shop around before making a choice. If the dentist accepts your insurance (and assuming your insurance covers a portion of the cost), you can end up paying significantly less. In addition, ask if the price of braces is negotiable. Check the price in your area with Healthcare Blue Book, a free online guide that lists fair prices for healthcare services. The fair price is what a health service provider typically allows from insurance companies as full payment, which is substantially less than the billed amount.

Angie's List Tips: Choosing an Orthodontist

• What is your background? An orthodontist is a specialized dentist trained to align and move teeth. These professionals have trained for two to three more years than a family dentist, continuing in the field after they have completed dental school.
• Are you certified? Some orthodontists are certified by the American Board of Orthodontics. The process is rigorous, as they are tested through written and performance assessments using a series of exams and patient cases.
• What appliances are used? Some practices use both removable and permanent retainers, while others offer one or the other. Some practices offer both metal and ceramic braces, while others offer one or the other. Still other offices offer clear, removable braces.
• Take a tour: Take a moment to visit during peak times to see how the staff interacts with patients. Are they running on time? Do they have exceptional billing and insurance practices? Is the office patient-friendly for the demographic it serves? By answering these questions, you can select a doctor that aligns with your treatment goals, wallet and schedule.

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