Many children sport a metallic smile in the later elementary years, then wear retainers during the middle school years. For most children, braces are a critical dental health tool, but they are not inexpensive. Braces cost anywhere from £975 to £2,600, although good dental insurance can help cushion the blow.
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Braces are used to help strengthen the root of the tooth and position the jaw and teeth to create a healthy, functioning bite as well as a beautiful smile and profile. The orthodontic field is moving to earlier intervention to minimise the need for braces later in life, when teeth are more difficult to shift and jaw development is closer to complete. Evaluation is recommended for younger children, around the age of 7, 8 or 9. Typically, these children wear braces as a preventive device. The idea is that by intervening early in the development of the jaw and tooth structure, the need for braces later will be minimised or obviated and it will be easier for the orthodontic devices to set the teeth, jaw and profile correctly. Worn for about 10 or so months, early braces are then removed and replaced with a retainer. In the junior high years, the orthodontist reviews the child's development and evaluates the need for a second set of braces.
The first phase of getting braces typically costs about £975 and includes a full mouth x-ray, orthodontic evaluation, moulds, devices and office visits. If your dental insurance covers orthodontics, you can typically get up to 50 per cent of that cost covered. Most dental insurance providers will not cover the initial evaluation, however. Most policies require you to pay the orthodontist and then receive reimbursement. The second phase costs about the same and operates in much the same fashion, although you won't need to pay for the initial evaluation.
Most orthodontic practices will allow you to pay on a monthly basis. You sign a contract for the total amount and agree to a monthly payment plan. It's unusual for an orthodontist to charge interest; instead, expect to pay a flat fee with no interest charged. Be aware that most orthodontic offices won't pursue payment from an insurer; you fill out the paperwork and request reimbursement directly.
Braces help ensure a healthy smile and bite for your child as she grows up. Early intervention seems to create healthier, stronger root systems, leading to stronger teeth. You can also hope that if you follow all processes carefully during the first phase and your child wears his retainer, a second phase will not be necessary.
Check your dental insurance carefully. Some dental insurers place severe restrictions on orthodontic work and cap any payments beyond a certain limit. Find out if this cap is for the family or the individual if you have additional children who will need to visit the orthodontist. And make sure you're maximising your benefits by going to a provider within the insurer's network.