Taking the Terror out of Paying for Braces

by | Jul 2, 2024 | Dental

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If you’re a fan of the long-running TV show The Simpsons, you might recall this episode from early in the series’ run. Doltish dad Homer becomes his company’s union rep simply because he rallied his co-workers into rejecting a proposal to eliminate dental coverage, which Homer cannot accept because his daughter needs braces. Although played for laughs, the situation is an unfortunately realistic one for parents in Maplewood and across the U.S. who find themselves facing the steep costs of orthodontics.

A recent survey by a well-known provider of wireless braces shed some light on just how important straight, bright teeth may be. Maplewood patients may think of cosmetic dental procedures as an unnecessary luxury, but it turns out that there’s a widespread mindset that an attractive smile – or an unattractive one – can have significant real-world consequences. According to the survey, 24 percent of respondents think teeth are the second-most memorable feature of a person’s face, after eyes. Even more strikingly, there’s a strong perception that a good smile is an important part of landing a job or finding a spouse. For those who think orthodontics aren’t necessary, those are sobering facts.

When it comes to paying for braces, Maplewood orthodontists will quickly point out that there are a number of options. For starters, although insurance plans vary widely, many plans offer at least partial coverage for orthodontic treatment. If current coverage is insufficient or nonexistent, it may be worthwhile to shop around for a more comprehensive plan.

In some states, need-based subsidized programs are an option. Maplewood patients looking for affordable braces may want to investigate the possibility of donated orthodontics services, although there can be a long waiting list. A national program called Smiles Change Lives offers free braces to children who meet certain financial criteria, but even patients who are approved for the program can expect to wait a long time. Another option is to go to an orthodontics school, where students perform supervised procedures for a fraction of the cost of a licensed orthodontist. Finally, it may be possible to negotiate with the dentist or orthodontist for a price break. Even if providers won’t reduce the price, they may agree to a payment plan.

For many young people in Maplewood, braces are a rite of passage that will lead to healthier teeth and a more attractive smile. For their parents, the cost of orthodontics may present an unfortunate obstacle, but perhaps not an insurmountable one.