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While the cost of braces varies by type, in general, the traditional metal braces that most people get to straighten their teeth cost anywhere from $3,000 to $7,000.

If braces are in the future for you or another member of your family, figuring out how you’re going to pay for them is critical when it comes to ensuring that you have enough money set aside to cover the expense when the time comes.

For those with dental insurance, the first thing you’ll want to do is look into what’s covered—and what’s not. After insurance, here are some other ways to save on the cost of braces:

Dental Savings Plans
Also called dental discount plans, these are alternatives to traditional dental insurance. You pay an annual fee upfront and get a dental discount card to get discounts at local dentists. Savings range from 10 – 60 percent.

Payment Plans
Orthodontists know that braces cost a pretty penny, so many of them offer monthly payment plans to make paying for them easier. Before agreeing to a payment plan, be sure to get it in writing.

Plan Ahead
When it comes to children needing braces, it’s often easier to plan ahead because their dentist will most likely tell you well ahead of time that your child will need braces at some point in the future. This will give you time to budget for any upcoming expenses associated with getting and having braces as you can begin putting money aside on a monthly basis. If it turns out your child doesn’t need braces, chances are the money will be needed for some other medical expense in the future.

Dental Schools
If you’re lucky enough to leave near a university that has a dental or orthodontic school, you can often get a reduced price on dental care. The work done by students is fully supervised by experienced orthodontists. Be sure to check out the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) website for a list of accredited programs in your state before making an appointment.

Go Shopping
Chances are there are many orthodontists in your area. If you don’t like the price or services offered at one, take the time to shop around. Prices can vary tremendously, so ask family and friends for recommendations—and don’t accept the first offer you’re given.

Avoid Third-Party Plans
Some dentists offer third-party payment plans, which often charge high interest and should be avoided. If your dentist doesn’t offer an interest-free payment plan on their own, you may want to consider asking your bank or credit union for a loan.

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