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I wasn’t surprised when the orthodontist told me that my twins needed braces, but I was utterly flabbergasted when he told me the price. Being the frugal mom that I am (and knowing 3 more children will probably also need braces), I got to work figuring out how to save on braces. Here are the top ways I found to make sure you’re not spending more than you need to on straight teeth.
Disclaimer: I am not an orthodontist. No information in this article is meant to replace the advice of your orthodontist.
9 Ways to Save on Braces
Most orthodontists offer a free consultation, so take advantage of getting several different estimates! A few extra appointments can be a hassle, but it could also save you thousands of dollars. Be sure to compare specifics when figuring out the cheapest option. Make sure the price quoted includes any adjustments, repairs, or retainers needed.
Side note: You will also want to ask around and look up reviews to get recommendations. Never choose a provider that you do not fully trust no matter how cheap they are.
I got 4 different consultations in the last 6 months. While we aren’t going to go with the lowest price, it did save us over $2,000 off the first price we were given!
Ask for discounts
Once you find your cheapest option and are happy with the office, it’s time to negotiate. Most of the offices we visited offered a multiple child discount, but the biggest savings was to pay up front in full.
If you are not able to pay in full, go in prepared with an outline of how you can pay. Many are willing and able to work with you on a payment plan without any finance charges.
Use flexible spending or health savings accounts
If you have access to a Flexible Spending Account this is a great opportunity to use it. You can put pre-tax money into this account, so while you may not see these savings right away you will appreciate it come tax time.
We don’t have an FSA, but we are eligible for a Health Saving Account. So putting the max for a family in the account ($6,500) saves us an easy 30-35% off by not paying taxes on that amount. If you are eligible, you want one of these accounts!
Check out Smiles Change Lives
Smiles Change Lives is a great program that helps provide braces for low income families. You will owe a $30 application fee and $650 for the braces (per child).
The financial requirements vary by geographic location. Your child must also have no unfilled cavities, have a moderate to severe need for braces, and be between the ages of 7-18.
Find a local dental college
If a college in your area has a dental program, be sure to check out their rates. The appointments usually take longer, but this can add up to huge savings. The prices are usually half of what a private practice charges and many will apply your insurance on top of the cost. They also do payment arrangements. For me the closest school was in Augusta, Georgia, a tad far for regular appointments, but you may be closer to one!
Heading to a dental school saved one Southern Savers reader $2,500!
Consider early intervention
Whether or not to intervene early can be tricky. Depending on the treatment you can avoid braces or end up paying for two sets. If your provider is wanting to do braces around 10 or 11, it may be a good idea to hold off until they are older, if possible.
On the other hand, one Southern Saver reader shared how early intervention allowed her child to skip braces. When the child was 7, they did a palate expander and retainer. This allowed for the permanent teeth to come in a better position and avoid braces later on. She shared that while the child’s teeth aren’t perfect they were 90% correct which everyone decided was satisfactory.
Take it international
If you can hop over the border to Mexico you can get braces for a lot less! While this isn’t an option for most Americans, if you live within easy driving distance it may be worth looking into. One Southern Savers reader used this option and paid $1,600 for her braces.
(This option has ruffled feathers in the past… not trying to upset folks just sharing tips to save. You should still seek out a well trained professional for any services no matter what country you are in).
Check daily deal sites & auctions
Don’t forget to check Daily Deal sites for a dental discount. You may be able to get a deal such as you pay $50 but get $1,000 off the cost of braces.
Another place to check is local silent auctions. Many local businesses will offer certificates worth a set value and you can buy them for a fraction of the price and help out charity!
Use Smile Direct Club
With Smile Direct, you will be sent transparent aligners similar to Invisalign. You take pictures and dental impression of your teeth and send them in for an evaluation by an orthodontist. You will then be sent up to 40 transparent aligners (depending on your prescription) that you wear for 3-14 months and change every 3 weeks. You remove them to eat and brush your teeth only.
The treatment plan is $2,050 or put $250 down and pay $89/mo for 26 months. Treatment plans are qualified for FSA and HSA payment. Some insurance companies also cover part or all of the costs. The reviews are very mixed on this company, though, so be sure to thoroughly research before committing.
What are your best tips for saving on braces? Let us know in the comments!