This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy through the link, I may earn a commission. Learn More.
Both of my children have had to have braces. My 17-year-old son is now on his fourth retainer.
I am proud to state that we haven’t had to take out a second mortgage or harvest our own kidneys to pay for them. Keep reading and I’ll tell you how.
How Do Parents Afford Braces For Their Kids?
Parents can find a number of ways to pay for braces. The first step is to shop around. Visit different orthodontists and compare quotes. Most dentist offices will offer financing on orthodontia. If possible, you can take out a dental policy that will pay for a portion of the braces.
How Much Do Braces Cost?
Don’t be shocked when your orthodontist tells you how much your child’s braces are going to cost. The average cost of braces is somewhere between $3,000 to $10,000 with the majority falling in the $6,000 range.
This cost usually covers the braces, all office visits and a retainer. It does not cover the cost of a second set of braces if they are needed.
Your first question might be, “Does my child really need braces?” If you have made it as far as the orthodontist, assume that the answer is yes. Your next question will be, “How on earth do I afford this?” Rest assured, you have options.
Bargain Shopping, Negotiating and Special Deals
Do not get braces from the first orthodontist you visit. You have no way to know if you are getting a good deal or not. Instead, make appointments with no less than three orthodontists with good reputations.
It is time consuming but it will be worth that time to know you are getting the best price on dental care. A quality orthodontist will not charge for the consultation and quote but you will have to plan for about two hours for each visit.
Side Note: Make sure you do a lot of reconnaissance on any orthodontist you see. Get recommendations from people you trust.
If you meet someone with a child who has braces, ask them about their experiences. There is no such thing as too much information.
Did you know you can negotiate the price for your child’s braces? It is absolutely true. When your orthodontist gives you the breakdown of the cost, look it over. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
I took $2,000 off the price of my daughter’s braces by opting out of the retainer insurance. I have bought enough retainers for my son to know that $2,000 is not a great deal.
Just like all businesses, orthodontists have special sales. Ask about any special deals your orthodontist office might be running. Ask your orthodontist if they have a discount for any business or club you belong to.
My children’s orthodontist offers sibling discounts that they don’t openly advertise. Simply by asking, I shaved another $500 off my daughter’s braces.
Another important tip to paying for braces is to know exactly what you are paying for. Does your bill cover all visits or just the initial one? Does the bill include a retainer?
After the braces come off, how many follow up visits are included? Get all of this in writing. The last thing you need is to suddenly have another bill from the orthodontist when you thought you had finally finished paying.
You have finally settled on an orthodontist. Congratulations! Now what? The good news is, your orthodontist knows that you probably don’t have an extra $6,000 lying around to spend on braces. Most offer in-house financing.
Your orthodontist will explain the cost structure and what it covers. They will then give you some options. They may offer a discount if you pay the full amount upfront.
If you cannot do this, which is true for most people, they will offer a plan that allows you to pay for the braces over the course of anywhere from 12 to 36 months.
You will need to have a down payment, but even that amount is often flexible. Keep in mind: If you have a lower down payment, your monthly bill will be higher.
When financing, don’t think about how much you can afford right now. Think about how much you can afford every month.
You also have the option of taking out a dental loan. This is something I would not recommend. These types of loans come with high interest rates that are difficult and lengthy to pay off.
You are much better off working with your orthodontist than taking out a loan from a third party. Likewise, you might decide to pay for orthodontia with a credit card.
The high price of the credit card interest will make the braces cost far more than they should unless you can pay your credit card bill in its entirety each month.
Dental Insurance and Health Savings Accounts
Do you have dental insurance? If you don’t, go get it. Now. Unlike health insurance, dental insurance is usually affordable. Most policies are less than $100 per month.
My family pays about $50 per month for our policy. It covers two check-ups per year, the cost of any procedures needed and up to $1,500 of orthodontia per person.
Not all dental policies cover orthodontia. It’s important to find the right policy that will help you pay for braces. Likewise, many policies have a time period in which you must be a policy holder before orthodontia is covered.
You might end up having to wait on braces if you choose to buy a plan to save some money.
You can also use a health savings account, or HSA, to pay for your orthodontia. Your HSA must be set up through your employer. They will allow you to have a portion of your paycheck placed into the HSA pre-tax.
The money in the HSA can only be used for medical expenses. I have a payment plan set up through my child’s orthodontist. I have it set up to deduct the monthly installment from my HSA.
This way, the money that pays for my daughter’s braces is untaxed, which means my dollars go further than they would if I paid from my post-tax income.
Getting Braces Online
Don’t do it. There isn’t a lot of information about success and failure rates of online orthodontia.
There are growing numbers of lawsuits from customers whose teeth have shifted, broken or even fallen out. There may be a day when online orthodontia is always safe and effective. Today is not that day.
A good orthodontist will work with you to ensure you can pay for the braces your child needs. Don’t be afraid to ask about financing and discounts. Does your child need braces? How do you plan to pay for them? Tell us in the comments!