Many people, usually adolescents (but sometimes adults), need braces. They’re not fun to have, but often needed if you want straight and healthy teeth.
The true cost of braces can vary, depending on the type of braces you need, the associated costs, and what methods you use to fund the procedure and appointments.
The big questions here are, “How can I save as much as possible on braces?” and “Where can I go to get them?”
- Dental Saving Plans
- School Clinic
- Payment Plans & Credit Cards
- Dental Tourism
- Cheap Braces Near Me
Where Can I Get Cheap Braces Without Insurance?
Despite popular belief, there are ways to afford braces even if you don’t have insurance. You just have to be creative and know where to look.
Traditional Bracket And Wire System Braces
First, there’s the traditional bracket and wire system of braces.
This is where a bracket, either metal or ceramic, attaches to each tooth with glue. A wire then runs from tooth to tooth through these brackets to help align the teeth over time. Orthodontists often use elastic bands with these brackets to help with the alignment. These are best for children, teens, and adults who’ve never had braces and need a lot of work on their teeth alignment.
This is the most effective way to straighten teeth because they work well with more complicated cases. The downside is that they’re very inconvenient and can take extra work to care for.
As for the cost, traditional braces can cost several thousand dollars.
However, if your teeth are not misaligned too badly, you can look into invisible teeth aligners, like Invisalign, SnapCorrect, ClearCorrect or Smile Direct Club. This is a much more affordable option than regular braces.
These “invisible” aligners fit over your teeth like a dental guard. They’re custom-fit to your mouth, and you change these aligner trays every 2 weeks, each one slightly different from the previous one. This gradually shifts your teeth into alignment.
Although these are much more convenient and aesthetically pleasing than traditional braces, they don’t work as well. And they’re not meant for extreme cases but rather for adults or teens who need simple or slight adjustments.
Dental Saving Plans
Dental savings plans are becoming increasingly more popular because of their “anyone can get one” way of working.
Basically, you sign up for one and, once approved, can start using your dental savings plan card right away. You just show it at any appointment you have with a participating dental professional (including an orthodontist) and get up to 60% off. And this is all for a small annual fee that can be as low as $120.
Dental And Orthodontic School Clinic
When you need braces, or really any type of dental work, our first thought is to simply go to our local orthodontist or dental professional.
But there’s another option.
You can look at dental and orthodontic schools in your area — most states have them and most are open to welcoming patients on specific days. So if you can find the right place and get in on an open day, you could save a boatload of cash because the students need patients to practice on.
And if you’re concerned about a student working on your mouth, you should know that every dental student is closely supervised by a certified dental professional. Each move of their dental tool is watched.
Check our list to find a dental school near you.
Payment Plans & Credit Cards
Another smart way of getting more affordable braces is to ask your orthodontist if you can set up a payment plan.
Most orthodontic practices will allow this, especially if you don’t have insurance. Many practices even partner with financing companies that end up costing the patient less money with a payment plan, even offering low- or no-interest loans.
Speaking of loans, you could skip the payment plan idea and apply for a dental loan or a credit card. Yes, you’ll end up paying more in the long-run because of the interest, but if you have misaligned teeth and they’re not taken care of, it could get worse.
State Dental Assistance Program
A lot of states offer dental assistance programs for folks in lower income brackets. These programs can help people pay for braces.
Another clever way to save money on braces is something called “dental tourism.” This is where you would take a vacation to another country and get dental work done while you’re there. Dental care offered abroad is often cheaper for Americans because of the exchange rates.
Two countries that are more affordable than in the States are Mexico and Thailand.
The one concern is that sometimes cheaper braces may mean that the quality is cheaper. It’s an important reality to keep in mind as you plan your vacation-healthcare trip. You can use sites like Yelp and Dental Departures.
But if you do a dental tourist trip, you could end up saving a lot on your braces, especially if you’re good at finding affordable hotels and plane tickets.
Flexible Spending Account
If your employer offers Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA), this is something you may want to take advantage of. When you put money into this account, it’s not taxed, so your dollar goes a long way. You can use the FSA debit card to pay for medical expenses, like braces, that aren’t covered by your health insurance.
Cheap Braces Near Me
You can use Yelp to find an orthodontist near you — that’s perfectly fine.
But the most effective option for finding how to get cheap braces near you is to visit the American Association of Orthodontists’ website and enter your zip code in the box at the top of the page. It will then give you a list of orthodontists in your area showing their location and a link to schedule an appointment.
Final Tips on Lowering Braces Cost
Before you go, there are a few other options and tips for lowering the cost of braces that we should mention.
This is not the most fun option, but asking for money is a viable option. Whether you use a site like GoFundMe or you go directly to friends and family to ask for money, this can be an effective way of getting help paying for braces.
Pay In Cash
Paying your orthodontist in cash is good for them because they don’t have to pay the debit and credit card processing fees or the fees they have to pay to accept insurance. And it’s because it’s good for them, it’s good for you. It means you may be able to get a discount. Just make sure to tell your orthodontist’s office when they quote you a price that you’re willing to pay in cash in order to get a discount.
It can’t hurt to try to negotiate the cost of your braces, especially if you’re paying in cash as that is a way to leverage the negotiation in your favor. But even if you’re not paying in cash, you can let the orthodontist know that you’re shopping around and have found other practices that have special deals or lower copays.
- You can get cheap braces by looking at the different types of braces and teeth aligners, getting a dental savings plan, visiting an orthodontic school, setting up a payment plan or getting a loan, looking at state assistance programs, getting dental care abroad, and using a Flexible Spending Account.
- To find an orthodontist near you, use Yelp or the American Association of Orthodontists’ website.
- To choose the best dentists abroad use Dental Departures.
- To further lower the cost of braces, you can pay in cash, ask for financial help from family and friends, and negotiate with the orthodontist.