When considering the cheapest way to straighten teeth, it's important to understand your insurance and payment options. Read on to learn more about teeth straightening options, how much they cost, and whether they are covered by dental insurance.
Does Dental Insurance Cover Teeth Straightening?
Insurance coverage for teeth straightening depends on whether the orthodontic care you're seeking is considered medically necessary. In 2014, the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) updated their policy on medically necessary care. The AAO's updated policy states: “Medically necessary orthodontic care is defined as the treatment of a malocclusion (including craniofacial abnormalities/anomalies) that compromise the patient’s physical, emotional or dental health. This treatment should be based on a comprehensive assessment and diagnosis done by an orthodontist, in consultation with other health care providers when indicated.”
However, while most private dental insurances will cover some portion of orthodontic care, each policy's definition of medically-necessary orthodontic care will vary. Therefore, it is best to do your own research when choosing a dental plan. “For options that typically have the most comprehensive orthodontic benefits, try looking at PPO and HMO plans specifically,” Oleg Drut, DDS, tells WebMD Connect to Care.
Affordable Teeth Straightening
You should always choose your teeth straightening procedure or devices under the supervision of a licensed dental professional. While good orthodontic care to straighten teeth can be costly, many dental practices offer monthly payment plans to help cover the costs. You can also often use health savings accounts (HSA) and flexible spending accounts (FSA) to help pay for your teeth straightening treatment.
“Orthodontic treatment like traditional braces or clear aligner therapy typically ranges anywhere from $3,500 to $7,500, depending on the severity of the case and geographic regions,” Tiffanie Garrison-Jeter, DMD, tells WebMD Connect to Care. Traditional metal braces are often the most common, effective, and economical form of teeth straightening.
Clear dental aligners typically cost more than braces and are only appropriate for mild to moderate teeth misalignment. Clear dental aligners, however, are often more comfortable and less noticeable than metal braces. “Aligners can also be removed for every meal, which expedites cleaning time and means you won’t be subject to any orthodontic-related diet restrictions,” Drut says. Whether using braces or aligners to straighten your teeth, it is important that a licensed orthodontist supervises your dental care using in-person visits.
If you need extensive work done to straighten your teeth or fix your jaw alignment, surgery may be necessary. Orthognathic surgery (corrective jaw surgery) is typically only recommended for severe cases of jaw misalignment. “It is more invasive than other orthodontics, typically more expensive than other orthodontics, and it is not a quick bypass for braces; in many cases, you’ll still have to wear them after the procedure, just for a shorter time frame,” Drut says.
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