For kids and adults with crooked teeth or crowded jaws, orthodontics is a medical procedure that corrects misaligned teeth. Orthodontics and braces can be quite expensive and while many dental plans do have a lifetime limit of $1000 for orthodontics, this sum barely covers the cost of the initial work. With braces and orthodontia averaging anywhere from $3500 to $6000 depending on the type of work needed, families have to find some way of financing the difference.
Fortunately, there are several different ways that a family can finance the costs of braces and orthodontia. Here’s what we discovered over 11 years (and three kids) worth of orthodontic work.
In-house finance plan. Many orthodontists will let families set up some kind of monthly payment plan. How this usually works is that the office will bill the dental insurance for the $1000 lifetime limit, and then divide the remaining payments over the estimated term of the treatment. To use as an example, for a treatment that will span three years, the payments will be calculated over the three years.
What’s important to note is that some orthodontists will charge interest on the balance owed while others have interest free plans. If your orthodontist’s office charges interest, then consider shopping the competition for better terms.
Finance company. We also discovered that some orthodontists won’t take payments at all, and ask that families finance the treatment through a finance company of the orthodontist’s choosing. The downside of this plan is the high interest rates (usually 18-23%) and having to qualify for the plan. If your credit is shaky, then this option probably won’t work.
Credit card. Some orthodontic offices will accept common credit cards such as Visa or Master Card. While charging braces on a credit card isn’t interest free, it’s a great way to rack up some frequent flier miles or coupons for merchandise. If this option works for you, be sure to ask first if the office accepts credit cards since many do not.
Home equity loan. If you have a home equity line of credit in place, this is a fantastic way of financing braces at a low interest rate. Home equity lines of credit are secured against your home and are ideal for small short term loans.
Start saving. While saving up for braces may seem like a wise move, your child’s teeth will continue to shift out of position and may cost more to repair in the long run. Waiting until enough money has been saved is an option that should be discussed with your child’s orthodontist first, since you may be doing more harm than good in delaying treatment.