We are at that stage of parenthood where two of our kids need braces and I am sure the other two won’t be far behind. We have been looking into options to make them fit within our budget. Ha! Those words don’t seem to go together! I will share with you, though, what I discovered in my research.
- First of all, start with your dental insurance. Our kids are currently on the state plan, so we went to a doctor that is covered by our plan to see if we would qualify. Unfortunately, my son’s case was not deemed “necessary” or bad enough by insurance to be covered. That means we would have to pay privately with none covered by insurance. For state plans, you have to go to an in-network orthodontist to get an evaluation. For private plans, they should be able to tell you up front what they will cover.
- Smile for a Lifetime – This is a charitable, nonprofit organization that matches kids in need of orthodontic treatment with dental professionals eager to provide pro bono care. There is an income requirement, though, and applicants need letters of recommendation and may be required to do 20 hours of volunteer work. Families do have to pay an application fee and investment fee.
- Smiles Change Lives – This is a national program that matches qualified children, who need orthodontic treatment, with caring orthodontists willing to provide such treatment. There is an income requirement for this program as well. Families do have to pay an application and program fee.
- Check your local dentistry school. Many offer dental services performed by students at a reduced cost. Here is one directory of dental schools – Commission on Dental Accreditation – Find a Program. In St. Louis, check out St. Louis University’s Center for Advanced Dental Education.
- Private pay – If you find out that your insurance will not or does not cover the cost of braces and you do not qualify for the above programs, it is time to talk to individual orthodontists. Total cost for braces may vary by doctor and they may also offer different payment plans and discounts for paying in one lump sum. Some even will let you extend your payment plan beyond the time frame of the braces appointments.
I would love to hear your experiences with paying for braces and any tips you may have for our readers! Please share in the Comments section below!