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A Car or Braces


Ok, I’m not looking at getting a car, but I have started shopping around for braces for kiddos.  Two of them are definitely going to need them, one sooner, rather than later.

A little back story, when the twins were placed with me, it was immediately obvious that one would need braces and having heard horror stories on getting them paid for, I jumped right on it.  We had no problems getting approval through his state issued health insurance at 100% BUT we were extremely limited in the service provider…only 2 within an hour of us.  We chose the easiest to get too, and got to it.

Fast forward a year and a half of almost monthly road trips to the orthodontist, pretty much a 2-3 hour chunk out of those days, and the ortho says “well, now I can break his jaw and do surgery or pull some teeth out to fix this.”  I was fed up and just said “take them off, we’re done.”  I was not happy, but was pretty much backed into a corner at this point.  That was 1 year ago now.

Present Day…my daughter is going to need braces and having lost all her baby teeth, I knew we were approaching the time and that I needed to get some hard and fast numbers to get her dad on board with assistance when he can (not to mention prepare myself.)  So this week, we did a free consult with the top rated ortho here locally, taking both kiddos.

Drum roll please….$12,000 for the two of them.  2 years in treatment for the twin and 18 months for the Princess. OMG, I could totally buy a car for that!

Now as a parent, I want to prepare my kids for their best and healthiest future and for these two, braces are necessary, this is not just cosmetic, BUT…

So I’ve put out a plea on FB to my local friends asking for any input, tricks, referrals, etc.  But frankly, I’m not sure what to do.  While there is 0% financing, it would almost be a $500 payment.

And right now, I’m super adverse to any more financial commitments.  Would love to hear from some of you if you’ve found any more affordable ways to get quality ortho treatment for your kiddos?


  • Reply Alice |

    I have found that “top rated” is usually code for “can charge whatever they want and are usually WAY overpriced.” I know that this is your kids health and future, but this is a decision that is going to come down to what is the best result you can get for a price you can live with.

    • Reply Alice |

      Would just add that both my kids had braces. We went to an orthodontist who was recommended by our regular dentist. Found out later that this particular ortho was so well priced that folks were driving up to an hour for visits. This was in a small town of around 6,000 people, and they were coming from a city with closer to 50,000.

  • Reply Alexandria |

    Agreed with Alice. I would shop around more. Ask for cash discounts up front, etc.

    That said, I had braces FOREVER and had to have jaw surgery to correct my bite. I am hoping there are more options (and newer technology) for my younger son who inherited my jaw. But so far the feedback is they still only can do surgery to fix. Just to say, some kids will need more expertise and more expensive procedures than others.

    I did ask our dirt cheap cash only (no insurance) dentist for referrals just thinking I trusted him and wanted an ortho closer to home than we currently have. They recommended specifically very inexpensive orthos that cater more to the uninsured (charging less up front). Which is why my first reaction to your post was to shop around. I chose my dentist because he is super honest and great, not because he was cheap. Is just a side benefit. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me that he would recommend similarly minded orthodontists. (Good AND cheap).

  • Reply tami |

    Almost all orthodontists have payment plans. If they have a direct debit program, they might be more flexible regarding the upfront amount. However, most orthos like to keep the payment plan to the length of the treatment. Maybe you could egotiate to make it the length of the treatment for both kids? I would ask to get referrals from patients who are:

    1. in the process
    2. just finished
    3. a few years out

    so you can get a good idea of the whole process.

    Ask all your acquaintances about their experiences – different dental schools prefer different techniques, you won’t get the same treatment plan from each ortho. Also – really be ON the teeth brushing – I’ve seen straight teeth with hideous cavities, resulting the need for caps.

  • Reply mary m |

    We just went through/are going through this with our big kids. I ended up going with a friend from high school, who has turned out to be “the” ortho to go to in our area, but his prices were basically the same as the other 2 I talked to. All 3 were with in 300-400$. Now that kiddo #2 needs braces, we’re almost done paying off #1.

    Luckily for us, my husband has a job with an FSA available, so we were able to pay 2 years of the max FSA ($2500), plus $50/month for 10 months. For the next kiddo, we’ll be paying $100/ month for the whole time she has braces, and one year of the FSA. I think we’re putting $500 down as well. She won’t be getting them until May, so we have time to make it happen.

    Yeah it’s expensive, but I think it’s a worthwhile investment in their future.

  • Reply Jenna |

    I’m not sure if it is an option in your area. But where I live the dental school offers braces and their management for a fraction of the cost. There are downfalls – a long wait list and the time commitment is much more because of the learning experience and teaching that is given to the students at the same time.
    I have a friend who has been on the wait list for a while and recently decide it wasn’t the route for her because she calculated the “time cost” for her to participate in the appointments. Taking time away from work and her family.

  • Reply Vesta |

    Is there a detal school near you — it might take longer, but may be worth investigating

  • Reply Den |

    I also think you should get a second opinion…and ask for cash discounts.

    Having said that, are you sure your younger daughter needs them now? Seems like ortho starts earlier and earlier and while some procedures makes sense to do early, some don’t. Our second son had a round of ortho when he was 8, and then his teeth moved again so had to have a second round……not only a pain, but expensive!

  • Reply Sarah |

    We paid about $6k per kid and that was five to ten years ago. I don’t think it is too out of line.

    Dental school is a good recommendation. I did that for TMJ treatment years ago and it was a lot cheaper.

  • Reply debthaven |

    Can you check to see if anything has now changed with your options for the service provider? Would it be worth making an appt with the other one (if there are still only two)?

  • Reply first step |

    The prices don’t sound completely out of line from what some of my friends paid almost 10 years ago, but it’s still worth doing some comparison shopping. Also, if you can find a policy without a waiting period, look into getting some type of dental insurance that will partially cover braces. Our paid $1000, and our orthodontist gave us a 10% discount on the remaining balance if we paid in full within a certain timeframe. Definitely ask what discounts are available and see if you can barter any services to get a lower out of pocket cost.

  • Reply Walnut |

    I had braces to straighten my teeth, but declined the treatments to fix my bite. The orthodontist had all sorts of solutions, but the only real fix is surgery to break the jaw. That said, my overbite is not noticeable and has not caused any other problems at this point, so the wait and see method continues to be the best dental solution.

    • Reply Judi |

      I agree with Walnut! My father is thankfully a dentist so they caught my underbite when I was young and could wear a protraction mask (I’m thankful for my teeth/profile now…not the headgear I had to wear then). But surgery to break the jaw is really the only solution with older kids to fix bite problems. If its an overcrowding issue make sure to get the opinion of several dentists, once you pull a tooth it can affect the integrity the jaw bone (there can be thinning) and affects the position of the teeth surrounding the extracted tooth. They are obviously the experts but just like any profession there are good dentists and bad dentists, and you don’t want to make a decision that will affect your kids health for the rest of their lives on a bad recommendation.
      That being said, I might go to a dental school for an initial consultation at least. Although the students are new their instructors will be leading experts and oversee all of the advise.

  • Reply Juhli |

    Before you proceed please assess whether or not your children have the discipline to wear their retainers forever. I had braces in my teen years back when they didn’t have you wear it very long. Then again some straightening in my 30s and now have just finished an expensive round in my 60s. This is the first time I was told retainers have to be worn forever but it is true that your teeth will move if you don’t.

  • Reply anette |

    I agree with Alice. We had one or more kids in braces for 11 years! The first orthodontist we got an estimate from does lots of advertising and had an arcade (literally) in his waiting area. His estimate was double of the second guy who had a modest waiting area and relied on very positive word of mouth referrals instead of advertising. Second guy also had an impressive repertoire of show tunes and would break out into song to entertain the kids.

    With such wide variances this is worth shopping around. Also ask the dental assistants they know who is good in town.

  • Reply Kerstin |

    I am not a parent so don’t have any advice on the cost piece of the braces, but as a kid with ADHD who received braces when I was not mature enough to take care of my teeth I would recommend waiting until your kids will take care of their teeth appropriately. I still have marks on my teeth as an adult from the braces where I didn’t brush my teeth. As a single mom it was hard for my mom to police my unwillingness to cooperate with dental hygiene. I’m better now, but wish my mom had waited to get me braces until I could respect them. I had a horrible overbite and was teased, so you’d think that would motivate me, but it didn’t. Just my two cents. I think you’ve gotten some great advice. I think the idea to get referrals throughout the process is a good one. I’m comparing it to hiring a contractor to finish our basement where I spent hours meeting with and talking to contractors and referrals and it was worth every minute. You are essentially remodeling your children’s teeth, so the effort now is worth it, as they don’t understand the gravity and importance of it. Also-please NEVER force your kids to wear their head/neck to school. I’m still scarred by that!! Not worth it. Braces as an adult isn’t so bad. 🙂

  • Reply CanadianKate |

    I had braces on the uppers for mostly cosmetic issues when I was a teenager. I stopped wearing my retainer the day I was married (at 19.9) My underbite required jaw break/reset surgery at 20. I was told I needed it to avoid developing arthritis later in life.

    Had my wisdom teeth out at 30 and the surgeon and his staff were amazed I had not had any issues yet with the surgery.

    In my 50’s I have slight arthritis in my jaw and now where a bite guard at night to help with that.

    So it seems the surgery didn’t avoid all problems and that the incidence of trouble following surgery must be higher than I was led to believe if they were amazed that I had no trouble after only 10 years.

    We could afford braces for our kids so they had them. That didn’t solve all sorts of issues for my daughter (who wears a massive bite guard) or for our son (who won’t take care of his teeth so has issues that he is now paying for.)

    My dh had very crooked teeth but his family was too poor to pay for braces. After the kids had their teeth done, he decided we could afford to do his so he had them in his 40s.

    I strongly believe that braces are not a requirement but a revenue generator (I’m willing to bet dentists get a kickback for recommending the referral) and so unless payment is not a difficulty for you or your MEDICAL doctor (not dentist) says they are required for health, I’d stop thinking of them as a must-have for the goodness of your child. They are a want, not a need. No one will pull your child from your home for abuse if you don’t provide them.

    • Reply Jackie |

      I agree with you on this. I should had braces when I was younger as I have quite an overbite plus some crooked teeth. My parents didn’t have the money so I didn’t get them. I am 40 now and still haven’t had them and am doing fine. I have no issues and the overbite isn’t that noticeable. Unless it’s a medical problem it isn’t a need. Many haven’t had braces and have done just fine.

So, what do you think ?