Braces can help correct dental alignment issues (like crowded, gapped, or crooked teeth) and give your child a beautiful smile. But if an orthodontist visit is in your future, prepare for sticker shock: Depending on the type of appliances they recommend and severity of the dental problem, kids’ braces can run well into the thousands of dollars. If you haven’t been saving up for this developmental milestone, you may be wondering: How do I pay for braces?
Fortunately, you do have some options, including payment plans, flexible spending accounts, and loans. Here’s a look at ways to make covering the high cost of braces more manageable.
What’s the Average Cost of Braces?
The cost of getting braces varies depending on the area, dentist, and type of braces, but you can expect to shell out anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000.
Here is a look at typical costs for different types of orthodontic treatment:
• Metal braces (traditional braces): $3,000 – $7,000
• Ceramic braces (tooth-colored braces): $4,000 – $8,000
• Lingual braces (braces that go on the back surfaces of your teeth): $8,000 – $10,000
• Invisible braces (custom-made trays that straighten your teeth over time): $4,000 – $7,400
If you have dental insurance, it might partially cover a child’s orthodontic treatment. Policies vary but many dental plans will cover 50% of the cost of braces with a $1500 lifetime maximum per child. While this still leaves you on the hook for the remainder, it can make a significant dent in your total out-of-pocket expenses.
Also keep in mind that many practices offer a discount (often 5%) on your braces cost if you choose to pay for the treatment up front.
Recommended: 8 Smart Tips To Finance Expensive Dental Work
Smart Options to Pay for Braces
Here’s a look at some ways to make orthodontic treatment costs more manageable.
1. Asking Your Orthodontic Office About Payment Plans
Many orthodontic offices offer flexible payment plans that allow you to stretch the cost of braces over a specified period. One common scenario is interest-free financing that spreads payments across two years. This can make the payments (typically debited monthly from your checking or saving account) more manageable.
For example, an interest-free, 24-month payment plan, with no required down payment, would make a $5,000 orthodontic treatment cost about $209 per month, assuming you don’t have any insurance coverage. If your dental plan covers some of your costs, your monthly, of course, will be less.
Payment policies will vary from office to office, so it’s a good idea to ask about payment plans, including any interest or financing charges associated with the plan, as well as the duration of the payment period. By understanding the terms up front, you can make an informed decision about which practice you want to use and how you will pay for the braces.
Recommended: Guide to Paying for Dental Care With a Credit Card
2. Using a Flexible Spending Account or a Health Savings Account
Flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health saving accounts (HSAs) are offered as a part of healthcare plans by some employers. Both allow you to set aside pre-tax dollars to be used toward eligible expenses, which often include orthodontic treatment.
With an FSA, you determine how much you want your employer to set aside for the year (up to the FSA limit). You then need to use the funds for qualified medical expenses before the end of the year, (though you may be able to roll over a certain amount to the following year.
To save to an HSA, you must enroll in a high-deductible health insurance plan, or HDHP (as defined by the government). Each year, you decide how much to contribute to your HSA, though you can’t exceed government-mandated maximums. If you have an HSA through your workplace, you can often set up automatic contributions directly from your paycheck. Typically, you get a debit card or checks linked to your HSA balance, and you can use the funds on eligible medical expenses.
Unlike an FSA, your HSA balance rolls over from year to year, so you never have to worry about losing your savings.
3. Taking out a Loan
If the above options aren’t available or sufficient to cover the cost of braces, you may want to consider getting a personal loan. These loans, available through banks, online lenders, and credit unions, are usually unsecured (meaning you don’t need to put up any collateral) and can be used for almost any type of expense, including your kid’s braces. In fact, healthcare costs are a common reason why people apply for a personal loan.
Financing braces, of course, comes with interest, which will add to the total cost of the treatment. However, personal loans generally have lower interest rates than credit cards. They also provide you with a lump sum up front, which might help you get a discount for paying in full (if your orthodontist offers that). Plus, you’ll get a set monthly payment you can budget for.
When exploring personal loans to pay for braces, it’s important to shop around and look for a loan that offers favorable rates and terms and fits within your budget.
The cost of a child’s braces can seem daunting. Fortunately, there are several options available to help you manage the expense. Whether you choose a payment plan offered by your orthodontist, utilize a flexible spending account or health savings account, or opt for a loan, careful planning and research can help you to find a solution that works for your family’s financial situation.
If you’re interested in exploring personal loan options for braces, SoFi could help. SoFi personal loans offer competitive, fixed rates and a variety of terms. Checking your rate won’t affect your credit score, and it takes just one minute.
Pay for your kid’s braces — without taking on high-interest debt.
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