Crooked teeth affect more than just your smile. Misaligned teeth can cause jaw pain, speech issues, trouble eating or drinking, and increase the risk of cavities, according to a 2020 article published by the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Healthcare. If you’re worried that you can’t afford teeth straightening, you may be surprised to learn that dental insurance often covers a portion of the costs.
Dental Insurance and Teeth Straightening
About 80% of Americans have dental insurance, according to the National Association of Dental Plans. This means that, for many people, insurance is the best option for covering orthodontic care.
“Many commercial dental insurance plans pay a percentage of the cost of braces, up to a certain dollar limit. Commercial plans typically do not differentiate between cosmetic and ‘medically necessary’ orthodontic treatments. In contrast, state insurance plans, such as Medicaid, often will not pay for cosmetic orthodontic treatments but will pay for orthodontic treatments that treat debilitating bite problems. Examples of such bite problems include cleft lip/palate and hemifacial microsomia—a condition where one side of the jaw is larger than the other side,” Jin Lin, DMD, of Hurst Pediatric Dentistry, tells WebMD Connect to Care.
Other Ways to Pay
If you don’t have dental insurance or your dental insurance doesn’t cover enough treatment, there may still be options for paying. Talk to your orthodontist before beginning your treatment, since this is the best time to discuss payment options and get a clear understanding of costs. Some options include:
- Financing care: You may be able to finance your care with a program like CareCredit. It’s also an option to put your care on a credit card, though it’s important to choose one with the lowest possible interest rate to avoid unnecessary payments.
- Payment plans: Many orthodontists let you pay for your care over time. A braces bill of $5,000 may be reduced to just a few hundred dollars a month.
- Prioritizing care: You might not need every treatment your orthodontist recommends right away. Ask your provider which treatments are the highest priority for your health and the overall appearance of your smile. Choose these first, and then consider pursuing additional treatments when you have more money.
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