Being a parent is expensive. But you always want the best for your children, and that includes finding ways to afford the orthodontic treatment they need, even though it may be difficult. So how much do braces cost for kids? First, it's necessary to identify the type of braces for your child and the duration of the treatment. This will help you understand your options in providing the very best care for your investment.
The Right Age
According to Jorgensen Orthodontics, children are typically fitted for braces not much later than 12 years of age, after they've lost all of their baby teeth and their 12-year molars have erupted. Although the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO) recommends that children receive their first orthodontic screening by the age of seven years, braces that are fitted too early can make the treatment take longer than necessary – and cost more.
If your orthodontist identifies an incorrect bite or potential for crowding during the screening exam, he can sometimes take what is called "interceptive" action to prevent the problem from playing out or getting worse. This can include fitting a palatal expander or other appliance to ensure that the permanent teeth erupt in the right position. The exam might also highlight the need to control habits such as thumb-sucking, which can cause damage to a child's mouth over time.
Types of Braces
The braces your orthodontist recommends will depend on your child's particular problem. Types of braces include:
- Traditional metal braces - Have steel ties holding the wires between the brackets in place.
- Damon braces - They do not have steel ties, as the brackets themselves hold the wires in place.
- Invisalign® (or other clear or removable aligners) - Fit over the child's teeth in a way that resembles a mouth guard.
In addition to appliances like an expander, your orthodontist might also recommend the use of headgear or a Forsus or Herbst device to use in conjunction with braces to correct problems affecting your child's natural bite.
Variations in Treatment Costs
Determining how much braces cost for kids depends mainly on the length of time your child will need to wear them. According to the Consumer Guide for Dentistry, the cost of wearing braces ranges between $3,000 and $7,000 – with respect to the type of braces recommended – for the following reasons:
With traditional braces, the cost is driven by what the orthodontist will charge for the orthodontic treatment for your child's case which include multiple visits during the time it takes to straighten his teeth over a year to three year period.
Damon braces are typically more expensive initially and can cost up to $8,000, but because the braces are self-ligating, you'll pay for fewer dental appointments.
With Invisalign®, your child will receive a number of aligners to use in a specific order, changing every couple of weeks. The cost is determined by the number of aligners needed to achieve the right result.
If your child needs to have teeth extracted or fitted with other appliances, overall cost of the treatment may go up as needed.
The way your child complies with the orthodontist's instructions matters as well, because repair and replacement affects the overall cost of treatment. Make sure your young one avoids tooth decay while wearing braces by using products such as Colgate® 2in1 for kids, an anticavity fluoride toothpaste that comes in fun fruit flavors.
Ways to Pay
For patients without insurance, many orthodontists who distribute Invisalign® offer flexible payment plans with no down payment and low interest rates. If you have insurance, it might cover a portion of the cost, particularly the dental appointments needed. The treatment is usually eligible for flexible savings account (FSA) reimbursement, too.
If you can handle it without financial aid, however, pay in advance for some or all of the treatment, which typically qualifies you for a discount. It's not just about asking, "how much do braces cost for kids?" It's about getting the right orthodontic treatment for your child, and at the right time.