The cost range for braces can vary greatly for each type:

Metal braces (traditional braces) : $3,000 - 7,000
Ceramic braces : $4,000 - 8,000
Lingual braces : $8,000 - 10,000
Invisalign : $4,000 - 7,400

Prices depend on where you live – orthodontists in more rural areas are often less expensive than ones in larger cities - and may be at the orthodontist's discretion.

How can I pay for braces?

Does health or dental insurance cover braces? If you have health or dental insurance, check with your provider. Most health plans don't pay for orthodontic treatment for people over 18 years old, but they do partially cover children under age 18. If your dental or health plan does not include orthodontic coverage, you can also buy supplemental orthodontic insurance.

For any plan, be sure to ask about the percentage they cover and the lifetime maximum. The amount of coverage varies greatly, but a common figure is 50% coverage with a $1500 lifetime maximum per child.

It's also recommended that you keep the same insurance plan during your entire orthodontic treatment. Most orthodontic coverage will not cover braces if they have already been applied to the teeth prior to the effective date of the policy. This would be considered a pre-existing condition and becomes an out-of-pocket expense.

If my insurance doesn't cover it, can I deduct the cost? As long as they're considered medically necessary (and braces, unlike whitening treatment and veneers, count), dental health care costs are tax deductible. However, the cost has to exceed a certain amount before you can begin deducting it (7.5 percent of line 37 on Form 1040, your adjusted gross income. To learn more, visit http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc502.html). Keep track of even small expenses, like co-pays and check-ups, because these can add up.

What about Medicaid? If you qualify for Medicaid and braces are deemed medically necessary, Medicaid may cover them. Be sure to ask about the percentage of coverage and the lifetime maximum. To learn more, visit http://www.medicaid.gov/.

Others tips for making braces more affordable:

Payment Plans Many offices offer payment plans. Ask your orthodontist.

HSA/FSA/HRA/MSA Keep in mind that you can also set aside pretax dollars to help pay for these treatments in a flexible spending account, health savings account, health reimbursement account, or medical savings account if you have one.

Orthodontists in Training Check to see if a university near you has a dental or orthodontic school. Apprentices at these schools can offer services, fully supervised by experienced orthodontists, at a reduced cost.

Plan Ahead Plan ahead – orthodontists often know years in advance that a child will likely need braces and/or other orthodontic treatment. An early checkup (orthodontists recommend one by age 7) will help you know what's coming so you can budget in advance and decide whether dental or orthodontic insurance is worth the investment.

Tags: first steps, cost
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