Can You Save Money on Dental Braces?

by Chris on April 24, 2012

Many household budgets are completely thrown for a loop when they find out that someone in their family needs braces.  It just happened to our family this year.  We always assumed that if the expense came that we’d be ready for it, but this time we weren’t.  That’s because the braces weren’t for our kids, they were for me!

That’s right, adult braces!  Ugh!

Anyway, I started the process of getting braces a few months ago and have since been looking for ways to save money on the braces.  Here’s what I’ve found.

Dental Insurance is Worthless

First of all, having dental insurance does not cover any orthodontic work.  In fact, in my opinion, having dental insurance doesn’t cover any dental work either.  If you think your kids or someone in your family may need braces down the road, you could buy into an orthodontic dental plan.  However, they are ridiculously expensive.  I would recommend taking the How to Save on Bracesmonthly payment that would go toward braces and putting it into a health savings account of some kind.  Even if it’s just set aside in one of your savings accounts.  After all, you’re never going to outsmart the insurance companies.  And if you buy orthodontic insurance and don’t need braces then you’ve wasted a lot of money.  Furthermore, most orthodontic dental plans require that you enroll for quite a few years before they actually cover any of the expenses.  And guess what, almost NO orthodontic insurance plans cover adults.

I even took the effort to find out if the orthodontist has negotiated rates with insurance companies.  You know, like when you have health insurance but your visit isn’t covered, you still get a “negotiated rate” with the hospital or clinic.  I figured it would be the same with an orthodontist.  It’s not, at least not in my area.  That’s because insurance only negotiates for specific tasks, while buying braces is buying a whole package, that includes so many months of services.

Basically, if you’re looking to save money on braces by getting insurance, it probably isn’t going to work.

Paying Upfront and In Cash Gets a Small Discount

Cash is king, right?  Well, not so much in the orthodontic world.  Whereas I’ve read that you can get 20-25% discounts at hospitals for paying your bills in cash, that’s not true with orthodontics.  The two companies I looked at only offered a 5% discount. At least it’s something, but it’s not the kind of discount that can really save you money.  Of course, I’m sure there are some companies that are not part of a larger organization that have more wiggle room with their pricing, it’s just that I didn’t find one and I don’t want to spend more time meeting with any more orthodontists.

Most Orthodontics Don’t Negotitate, and If They Do, Watch Out

Calling around to several orthodontic offices was not very fruitful either, as the people working there weren’t interested in negotiating. It’s like when I went to the Ford dealer a few years back and there was an SUV I liked that had over 30,000 miles on it, was 2 years old, and had the same sticker price on it as a brand new one.  I asked the salesperson what their “best price” was on the vehicle.  He went over, looked at the tag, and read the price to me.  My wife and I immediately walked to our car and have never been back to a Ford dealer since.  It’s kind of the same when trying to save on dental braces.  They just don’t negotiate.

Of course, if you look hard enough you can always find someone that will negotiate.  And I know that’s true.  But to be honest, I don’t want to put the health of my mouth out their for the lowest bidder.  Chances are if someone is willing to cut their prices for you significantly, it’s because they don’t have much business lined up.  That could mean that they are new to the business and are looking to get customers.  Or it could mean that they just aren’t good orthodontists.

You Can Also Try Some of These Techniques to Save at the Orthodontist

While I clearly haven’t had any success saving money on my braces, Kitty at Coupon Divas has the following suggestions that are worth looking into:

Check Into Local Universities, Technical Institutes: Check out any/all local dental schools in your area because they may  offer cleanings and services at a discount.  My sister used this method  when her kids were younger and she recommended it to me. The students  are supervised by their teachers so you can be assured that someone is  checking their work. It’s definitely worth a phone call to see if you  can take advantage of these discounts.

Get Multiple Quotes on Major Dental Work: Although this is not always done for free at the Dentist, many times Orthodontists will give a consultation for braces at no charge. I would definitely get several quotes for braces and compare what each would require as a down payment, length of time, diagnosis etc. If you have your own x-rays from the first Dentist you see, you may be able to get another dentist to see you and give their opinion at no cost to you. It never hurts to ask!

Free Dental Care: I have heard that Dentists in many parts of the country often offer times throughout the year where they will dedicate a day to offering FREE dental care to patients in need. I am not exactly sure of the details or if there are any financial requirements, but I did come across this website Dentistry From The Heart, that has upcoming events along with phone numbers of the dentists. If there is one in your area, check it out and let us know what you find out.

The rest of this article can be found at

My Conclusion

If you’re looking to save money on braces, I don’t think you’re going to have much luck.  While it’s worth trying to negotiate and asking and shopping around for reasonable prices, most orthodontists don’t give you pricing until after you’ve spent several hundred dollars on xrays and molds.  That means its really hard to compare prices.  Also, each person’s experience is unique, so prices aren’t always the same even at the same office.

If you have any ideas as to how to save on braces, let us know below.

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