What is the true cost of braces?

What is the true cost of braces?

One of the most common questions we are asked during an initial consultation is, “How much are braces going to cost?” To answer that question, we at W. Shane Holmes Orthodontics discuss the various treatment options that can affect the cost of braces. However, the true costs go much deeper.

When we try to explain how to find the true cost of braces we usually start with a discussion of treatment phases.  Often the term Phase I treatment describes early orthodontic intervention when primary (baby) teeth still exist.  Phase II treatment then describes a second round of orthodontics once all of the permanent teeth have erupted.  So the big question is, is it necessary to do both Phase I treatment and later Phase II, or can your child’s treatment be delayed until all primary teeth are lost and permanent teeth are in, otherwise known as comprehensive treatment?

The answer to this question can be very confusing to most parents and usually results in them wondering, “Should I put my child through this?”, “Can my family afford the added expense?”, “Do I really trust what this orthodontist is telling me?”, and even “Can my child properly take care of their teeth if they start treatment so young?”.

Often at this point in the conversation, one parent’s eyes start glassing over and the other starts looking at their phone. Granted it may not be a very riveting discussion but it is a VERY important topic to understand for families who want to know TRUE costs.  Of course it should be the orthodontist’s responsibility to determine if early treatment is legitimately necessary.   Unfortunately,  economic decline and increasing competition has prompted many orthodontists to aggressively overtreat and misuse expensive and unnecessary multiple phase treatment as common practice.  Dr. Holmes and his associates pride themselves on a conservative approach aimed solely at what is best for your child.

So, now that we’ve educated you on the difference between single vs. multiple phases of treatment, let’s get back to our original question; what is the true cost of braces?

To explain this in the most basic terms, imagine you need the carpet in your family room cleaned. One company you request a quote from says they can clean your carpet for $500 but it will most likely need cleaned one to two more times at an additional $500 each time to make sure the carpet is completely clean. In other words your $500 cleaning is really going to cost you up to $1500. The second company says they can clean the carpet for $700 but are absolutely certain they can get it completely clean that one time and will not require additional cleanings.  If given the choice, which would you choose?

This is a very simplified example of how treatment phases work in orthodontics. Sure, some orthodontists can quote the cost of braces at a lower price but are they planning two or even three total phases for your child throughout their adolescence? From a strictly financing perspective this could be much more expensive than a single phase treatment. It is important to know that there are situations in which it is appropriate to intervene early, however that certainly does not comprise the majority of children in our society.  

Now let’s discuss costs beyond monetary that must also be considered.  During the time braces are on teeth, there is always some risk of damage to the tooth enamel, roots and even periodontium.  If your child has braces on twice as long in a two phase treatment as opposed to a single phase treatment, there is potential for far more damage. Also, consider quality of life for your child. If you ask them whether they would like to have braces on for 16 months or 32 months, you probably know the answer before they even speak up.  Although having braces is marketed by orthodontic practices as fun, it certainly has it’s challenges and not so fun moments.  And finally, aside from the universally accepted indications for early intervention, orthodontic research overwhelmingly concludes that the end result between multiple and single phase treatments are the same.  

Can all patients get the proper treatment they require in a single phase? No, they cannot. Dr. Shane Holmes, however, has nearly 20 years of experience with the vast majority of his patients getting a beautiful smile in a single, comprehensive phase of treatment. Other orthodontists treat their patients with two phases as much as 75% of the time!

So when a parent asks what these braces are going to cost, you can see how we need to take some time to answer that question. If you come to W. Shane Holmes Orthodontics for a free consultation, we will explain your treatment options to you in detail and always approach your child’s care conservatively. Our goal is to avoid unnecessary treatment and produce the most beautiful smiles of any practice.  If you choose to go elsewhere for your orthodontic treatment, please be prepared to ask them about their comprehensive treatment plan. And be aware that the current trend is to see younger and younger children in braces when it really isn’t necessary.

If you would like more information on the true cost of braces, give us a call or schedule a no obligation consultation. We would be more than happy to explain the process as well as our philosophy of treatment in children.