Angie's List Report: Planning for Braces and Retainers

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Updated: 5/17/2013 11:29 am

If you suspect your child may need braces, prepare for spending thousands of dollars. In this Angie’s List report, how to plan for the cost of braces.

Teenager Kelsey Vergon now has her braces off but the beginning wasn't very easy.

“When I got the braces they hurt a little bit at first but it really wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be,” Vergon said. Kelsey wasn't the only one in the Vergon family with braces. Her two older brothers had braces and retainers as well. A fact Kelsey's mom and dad are very much aware of.

“Orthodontia can be expensive. My husband always jokes that that’s his motorcycle in their mouths.  The motorcycle that he won’t have now for a while.  They were all about the same and the total was right around $18,000 between 18 and 20 thousand for all three.  So it was very expensive,” Tamara Vergon said.

Such a costly rite of passage requires consumers to do a little more planning and a little more work. Just ask Angie Hicks, Angie's List founder.

“When planning for the cost of braces you need to think about the entire process of getting braces. A lot of times people think about the cost for the braces alone, but there could be dental work that needs to be done ahead of time so keep that in mind. Do they need any teeth pulled or a deep cleaning? Also, don’t forget a lot of times after braces there is a retainer that children need to wear as well and if they lose it, you’re going to add that to your bill as well,” Hicks said.

Those retainers are often problematic for teenagers. They can be left behind, lost, stepped on or the pets can even get to them. The Vergons went through a little of all of that.

“My son had taken it out and covered it with a napkin and just forgot, and we ran back in and we did go through the restaurant garbage, and we did find it and sterilize it and it do upset him that he never lost it again. So… but we’ve had… I think our dog got a hold of it as well. I don’t recall which child it was, but it was left on a nightstand and the doctor’s office had warned us that this could happen, but we didn’t think our dog would do that, and he did do that," Tamara said.

“All patients get retainers when the braces come off. Most patients get removable retainers and they wear the top retainer full time for about six months to a year and I have them wear the bottom retainer every night," reminded Dr. Robert A Stoner, an Orthodontist.

Here's where consumers can be proactive. Calling around for prices is just one of the steps parents can take.

“When selecting your orthodontist you don’t want to rely on price alone. Braces will typically cost anywhere from $4,000 to $7,000. Also check the credentials of the orthodontist. How long have they been practicing? Are they are member of the American Board of Orthodontists? And do they accept your insurance. These are all important factors in making your decision,” Angie Hicks said.

Not all orthodontists are going to charge the same price so be a savvy consumer and shop around. In addition, ask if the price of braces is negotiable.

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