Affordable Braces in Phoenix
These days, it can be hard for parents to think about affording braces for their children when many families are hard-pressed to pay for necessities. But the facts of childhood oral growth and development are inescapable: the odds are that at least one of your children will need braces.
Consider these two statistics:
- More than 40 percent of children need braces to let them do functional activities, like fixing a misaligned bite so they can chew and digest their food properly.
- Three of every four children would benefit from having braces in other ways, like fixing a crooked smile.
If you have just learned that your child is going to need braces, and are wondering how much it will cost and how you can afford braces, then this page is for you:
- If you have dental insurance and want to know whether it covers braces and how much it will pay for, read on.
- If you do not have dental insurance and want to know if there is any affordable alternative to paying for braces out of pocket and in full, read on.
At Ironwood Pediatric Dentistry, we offer $250 off braces and a free orthodontic consultation. Use the button below or call us at 480-422-4544 to schedule an appointment now!
How Dental Insurance Can Help Pay for Braces
If you have dental insurance through your employer or by paying for your own policy, then the good news is that dental insurance often pays for at least part of the cost of braces. The question is, how much of the total cost will dental insurance pay for? The answer to this question varies, and depends mostly on your insurance policy terms and conditions. Here are some things to consider when you review your policy:
- Does your insurer use a provider network? If it does, then going to an out-of-network dentist for your child’s braces will cost more than if you use an in-network pediatric dentist or orthodontist.
- Does your insurance policy limit how much it will cover for braces? Many dental insurance policies will cover only part of the cost of braces. For example, some policies may only pay half the cost for braces, and if the total cost exceeds a certain amount, then you will be responsible for the balance beyond that.
- Is orthodontic insurance available through your insurer? Orthodontic insurance is sometimes available as a policy add-on that can increase your insurer’s contribution toward the cost of braces in exchange for a higher insurance premium. It is best used when you know that your child will require major orthodontic dental work.
The thing to remember about dental insurance is that although it helps to defray the cost of braces, it will seldom pay the entire cost. Nationally, out-of-pocket braces costs for patients with dental insurance are from $3,000 to $3500.
Alternatives to Dental Insurance
If you do not have dental insurance, do not feel alone. More than 70 million Americans do not have dental insurance. During the recent covid-related public health emergency, millions of Americans who had dental insurance lost it. There are millions of parents today without dental insurance who must find a way to pay for braces for their children.
Fortunately, a number of alternatives to dental insurance exist that can reduce the cost of braces, or spread their cost over time through affordable installment payments, or both. We will look at some of these options next.
Health Savings Accounts and Flexible Savings Accounts
Health savings accounts (HSAs) and flexible savings accounts (FSAs) are similar to some retirement plans in that they take a part of your pre-tax income and set it aside for you to use for specific purposes. HSAs and FSAs save this untaxed money for you to use to pay medical expenses, including dental costs.
Medicaid is a form of no-cost public health insurance for low-income individuals and families. Medicaid will pay some of the costs of braces, as long as they are “medically necessary.” This means that as long as braces are needed to correct a functional problem, as opposed to a cosmetic purpose, Medicaid might apply to paying for them. In some states, children who qualify for Medicaid coverage may be able to have the entire cost of braces paid for by insurance.
Cash Discounts and Special Offers
Some dentists and orthodontists offer price breaks for payment in cash. If you can afford to pay for your child’s braces this way, this could save you some money. Some orthodontists give price discounts for new customers, so it can pay to look for these kinds of offers before making a final decision on which orthodontist to choose for your child’s braces.
If you cannot pay up front to qualify for a cash discount, many orthodontists can help you to break up the total cost of braces into smaller monthly payments. Payment plans usually include a rate of interest, but this will be less than resorting to a credit card.
Dental Discount Plans
Dental discount plans are plans you can participate in that help pay for dental and some orthodontic costs in return for a membership fee. These plans are not dental insurance, but depending on the plan they can still give you a price break on braces.
Dentistry Schools and Student Clinics
All dentists and orthodontists in training must be able to learn their skills by working on real patients while under supervision. Some dental schools operate clinics where new dental professionals can have the opportunity to practice, and they charge reduced rates to do so. The main challenge with this option is that it may be hard to find a dental school clinic close to where you live.
Choosing Affordable Braces for Your Child
There are two ways to make braces more affordable. One we have just covered above: seek ways to help pay for the cost of braces. The other is to find cheaper braces that give you the best value for your dollar. This can include in some cases considering alternatives to traditional braces.
What Kind of Low Cost Braces Are Best for Your Child?
Not all braces are the same when it comes to price, durability, and visual appeal. If you are willing to consider trade-offs, like the high visibility of traditional metal braces versus less visible options like ceramic braces, then you can save money. Here are some choices you have when it comes to braces:
These are the stainless steel braces most people immediately think of because they have been in use the longest and because they are the least expensive braces option: nationally, the average cost for metal braces is about $4,500. For more advanced options, like self-ligating braces that do not require elastic bands, this can add up to another $1,000 to the basic cost.
Other advantages of metal braces, aside from their relatively low price, are that they are a proven and reliable way to correct many kinds of orthodontic problems, from fixing crooked teeth to restoring smiles.
Metal braces pose little risk of side effects like tooth enamel demineralization or mouth injury from a bracket or arch wire breakage, and unlike clear braces, staining is not an issue.
The main disadvantage of metal braces is that they are highly visible.
Also known as clear braces, ceramic braces are made from an aluminum oxide material that can be clear, or your orthodontist can match it with the color of your teeth. Either way, ceramic braces are much less visible than metal braces, and this is their primary advantage. You can even have the archwires positioned behind your teeth instead of in front, a variation called lingual braces, to further reduce their visibility.
Orthodontists use ceramic braces to treat the same range of dental problems as metal braces.
The trade-offs of ceramic braces include being a little less robust than metal braces. Brackets and archwires can be more apt to break, although the overall risk of breakage remains low. Some evidence suggests that ceramics pose a slightly greater risk of tooth enamel demineralization than metal braces. And if your child likes drinking a lot of dark-colored beverages like coffee or colas, or eating a lot of dark-colored berries, these and a few other food items pose some risk of staining the ceramic material (especially if your child neglects to brush and floss after eating or drinking).
For most people, though, the most formidable drawback to ceramic braces is their cost. Regular ceramic braces can cost twice as much as metal braces, and lingual ceramic braces can easily cost more than $10,000.
Should You Consider an Alternative to Braces?
Technology advances in orthodontics give you some additional choices today aside from braces. The main trade-off to consider with these alternatives is that not all of them can treat the more serious kinds of dental problems that braces can. We consider a couple of alternative options below.
Clear aligners are sets of multiple trays that fit into your mouth. You wear each tray for about two weeks before switching to the next one in the series, gradually guiding your teeth into new positions with each new tray you apply.
Clear aligners have some significant advantages over traditional braces, stainless steel or ceramic:
- You can remove and replace them yourself. This makes keeping good oral hygiene easier, because you can take out the aligner before eating, then brush and floss your teeth before re-inserting it again.
- When worn, they are considerably less noticeable than braces.
- They can cost significantly less than braces.
- They pose no risk of injury from broken brackets or arch wires.
- For the issues they can treat, the treatment time is often much faster than braces. The whole process can usually be completed in a year, give or take a few months.
Limitations of Clear Aligners
One important thing to keep in mind about clear aligners is that they are not for everybody. This is because although they are effective for treating simple dental issues like improper tooth spacing or correcting an overbite, they are unsuitable to treat serious orthodontic problems. Another thing to keep in mind is that because some dental insurance policies limit their coverage to braces treatments that are necessary, some may not cover clear aligners.
Another possible limitation of the effectiveness of clear aligners is, because they are easily removable by the wearer, the wearer must be diligent in wearing them according to the orthodontic treatment plan. Children who have a forgetful or carefree approach to wearing their aligners will experience slower results than those who wear them regularly.
Types of Clear Aligners
You have two options when using clear aligners: at-home aligners that you can use with remote online supervision, or options that you use under the supervision of your dentist or orthodontist.
With at-home aligners, you work with a remote dentist or orthodontist to achieve your treatment goals. You will receive an oral impression kit in the mail to take molds of your teeth, then return it. Based on these molds and your individual needs, the aligner manufacturer will determine if you can benefit from aligner treatment. If you do, then it will send your aligners along with a treatment plan. You will check in periodically with your online dentist or orthodontist, who will monitor your progress and help you to make any adjustments to the treatment plan if needed.
Costs for at-home aligners can range from $1,800 to $2,500, easily making them more affordable than braces as long as you do not need treatment for a serious orthodontic problem.
Some aligner manufacturers, like InvisAlign, work with Phoenix dentists and Phoenix orthodontists who are trained to offer InvisAlign treatments through their offices. InvisAlign treatments require you to visit your dentist or orthodontist in person as part of the treatment plan. This makes InvisAlign treatment generally more expensive than at-home aligners, and about the same cost as for metal braces.
A retainer is a device that is similar to a clear aligner in that it can gradually straighten teeth without the need for brackets or arch wires. A retainer can be fixed in the mouth by your dentist and removed later, or it can be removable by the wearer.
Also like at-home clear aligners, in some cases you can use a retainer as an inexpensive orthodontic solution through the mail.
Retainers are generally less effective than clear aligners. Most of the time orthodontists use them as a post-braces device to hold the teeth in their new positions. When used as a corrective device on their own, orthodontic treatments with retainers take longer to work than aligners do.
Nonetheless, for minor tooth spacing or overcrowding problems, retainers can be the least expensive option. They usually cost no more than $500.
Ask Us About Affordable Braces for Your Child
Finding out that your child needs braces can be distressing. But what can be even more distressing than getting braces are the long-term consequences that can happen to your child’s oral health if he or she does not receive needed orthodontic treatment, especially for serious or medically necessary dental health issues.
At Ironwood Dental, our kids’ dentists understand that braces are a serious investment that pays lifelong dividends, so we offer flexible payment options to help you afford them.
If you have dental insurance coverage, we accept insurance payment through many dental health insurers in Arizona.
If you do not have dental insurance, call us at (480) 422-4544 or contact us online to discuss affordable, low-interest ways to finance your child’s braces. You can schedule an initial consultation online, too.
We offer monthly payment plan options, including plans with no initial payment at the time of your first visit.
Braces do not need to be a painful experience for your child. We can help you find ways to take some of the financial sting for them out of your budget, too. Call us today. (480) 422-4544.