There are few dental treatments that strike as much fear into the hearts of parents as much as dental braces — not because of pain or discomfort for their children, but often times because of the price tag. Even with a great insurance plan, braces for your son or daughter can really cause a strain on your wallet. But with a little bit of thinking outside-of-the-box, there are several ways to save money for and finance your child’s braces for a great smile.
1. Visit a Nearby Dental School
Though not everyone is so lucky, you may live relatively close to a nearby dental school with orthodontists fulfilling residency or training requirements before they can establish their own practice. Often times, because these are still technically students you can receive a treatment for braces at a considerable discount than going to an orthodontist with their own practice.
Though you might be worried about letting a non-expert work on your child’s teeth, the reality is that all orthodontists must first have completed dental school and are overseen by actual professionals — so in the vast majority of cases you have nothing to worry about. If your town is home to a large university or medical school, chances might be that there’s a dental school as well. Do some research to find out if there’s a dental school in your area.
2. Look to Philanthropic Organizations or Your Community
You’d be surprised, but there are some philanthropic organizations dedicated to helping children get braces. Among the most famous of these is Smiles Change Lives, which helps children between the ages of 10-18 get braces for free. Though in general, smiles change lives is for families with lower incomes (typically below $10,000 per person in the household). Likewise, turn to your Church, or other community organizations for help. You’d be surprised at the generosity of some people. We’ve even heard of orthodontists offering $1000 discounts at silent auctions to support programs at schools.
3. Use Your Tax Refund
Nobody loves tax day, but filling out those endless forms can have benefits in the shape of a tax refund. Though many families may immediately rush out to spend their tax refund on something nice, or store it away in savings, a potential option for families with braces is to use your tax refund to finance braces for your children. Though it may not pay for the total cost of the expensive orthodontic treatment, it can chip away at that hefty price tag.
4. Save the Spare Change
If there’s one thing most people neglect in modern society, it’s how much money gets amassed in spare change. Apparently, Americans amassed $500,000 in change that was left behind in bins at security checkpoints last year, and one man was recently able to save $13,000 in pennies after about 30 years. As Benjamin Franklin said, “A penny saved is a penny earned,” and that’s a philosophy you can take to the bank — and pay for your child’s braces with. Start collecting your leftover change.
Search couches and when you make purchases with cash, save the change to collect later. Likewise, if you maintain a “swear jar” or some similar practice, maintain the cash in there and add it to the brace fund. Even though the chances are it won’t cover the whole thing, you’ll make a dent in the cost.
5. Check Groupon…?
Yup. You read that right. More and more dental and orthodontic practices are beginning to shell out deals for braces, and more specifically Invisalign on the Groupon service. We first heard about this deal on the web, which has since expired. Though originally we thought this was a once in a blue moon scenario, we quickly found more that were several examples in our local area. Though there’s no certainty it will be offered in your geographic location, keep an eye out and you just might luck out with this out-of-the-box payment option.
Dr. Louis Bosse is the founder of and practicing dentist at Greenspoint Dental, a Houston, Texas based dental practice. Practicing for almost two decades, Dr. Bosse knows dental treatment can quickly get expensive and always tries to find the best deals for patients.