From about the time my oldest was six, I knew that he would need braces. His teeth were cramped and crooked. We were on a tight budget, and I was concerned about the cost. When our oldest was 11, our dentist suggested he get a consult with the orthodontist. The orthodontist told us what we already knew—he would need braces, and it was going to be expensive. When the orthodontist gave us the various payment options, I saw that there was a discount if you paid for the treatment upfront. After much investigation, we learned there are several reasons why you shouldn’t pay for braces in full to save.
How Much Do You Save by Paying in Full?
In our case, we would have saved $150 off the total $5,000 cost of braces by paying in full.
Why You Shouldn’t Pay for Braces in Full to Save
We decided not to pay in full for several reasons.
Impacts Your Finances
Because we were on a tight budget, paying $5,000 out of pocket at once would hinder our finances. We couldn’t justify upsetting our finances and struggling for a few months financially to save $150.
Payment Plan Is Available
Many orthodontists have payment plans available. These payment plans often are offered at zero percent interest. We paid our orthodontist a $500 down payment and then paid $125 monthly for 36 months. The monthly payment was small enough that it didn’t affect our budget.
We also had a flexible spending account, and each month, we submitted the $125 payment for reimbursement.
Had we paid for the braces in full, we wouldn’t have been able to get all of the money reimbursed from our flexible spending account because those have a yearly limit (currently $2,850).
The Orthodontist May Close His Practice
When we researched whether we should pay for his braces in full, someone warned me that the orthodontist might close his practice while our son was getting treatment. If that happened, all the money we paid upfront would be gone.
I listened to the advice but didn’t think this was a serious concern. How many orthodontists suddenly close their practice? My son completed his orthodontic treatment successfully.
Then our oldest daughter got her braces with the same orthodontist. One year into the pandemic, he pulled me aside to tell me that his business had taken a hit and he was closing down his practice. Thankfully, we hadn’t paid upfront with our daughter, either. I can’t imagine being out all that money, but now I know that unforeseen circumstances can arise, and orthodontists can and do close their practices.
If you’re a bargain shopper, you may like the idea of saving some money by paying in full for braces. However, we learned you shouldn’t pay in full for braces to save because you can’t fully utilize your flexible spending account. More importantly, your orthodontist may go out of business as ours did during the pandemic. Then you would have lost all of the money you paid upfront, which is no savings at all.
Melissa is a writer and virtual assistant. She earned her Master’s from Southern Illinois University, and her Bachelor’s in English from the University of Michigan. When she’s not working, you can find her homeschooling her kids, reading a good book, or cooking. She resides in Arizona where she dislikes the summer heat but loves the natural beauty of the area.