In the hit sitcom King of Queens, Jerry Stiller, who plays Arthur, the crazy father-in-law, asks for a set of braces. And his daughter dutifully spends thousands of dollars on them. A week later, Arthur comes in complaining that everyone at the senior center makes fun of him for wearing braces at his age, and he readies to throw them out. The cost of braces can be a terrible thing for a family. If you see that your child’s bite isn’t right or that there are crooked teeth, of course you’re saddened by the sight. But you are far more saddened at the thought of what is to come – a bill from the orthodontist for $5000. Where do they get off asking for $5000 for a couple of pieces of wire?
Well, the good part of the outrageous cost of braces comes down to what the orthodontist charges as his professional fee. In some cases, you may be able to find a doctor who waives his professional fee if you cannot afford it. Families can usually find such a doctor through the nonprofit Smiles Change Lives.
The problem is that crooked teeth aren’t just an aesthetic problem. They are also a health problem. It’s more difficult to brush crooked teeth than it is to brush well-aligned teeth. Poorly-aligned teeth also get teeth worn out faster. It is definitely a health problem to have misaligned teeth.
The problem is that dental insurance usually doesn’t cover much when it comes to braces. And these days, doctors and healthcare practitioners keep advising parents to come in sooner and sooner. And when you do go in, they come in armed with high-tech diagnostic tools like three-dimensional imaging that cost a bomb.
If you can’t get any help anywhere with the cost of braces for your child, shopping around will really help. Orthodontists charge fees at wildly different rates in different parts of each state and town.
Usually, if the price quoted is too high, you can even talk to the doctor and ask for a cheaper course of treatment than the one he recommends. This is completely possible. To help families pay for the cost of braces, many orthodontists will offer layaway plans. Which doesn’t really mean that you pay long after the treatment has ended. On average, treatment with braces takes about two years. And being allowed to take as much time would in itself be quite an allowance.
He can also get cheaper treatment at dental schools where residents are supervised by a fully qualified orthodontists. In general, whatever people go get dental insurance, they should pick a plan that gives them complete coverage for orthodontics. Such plans exist.