If you are an adult and would like to have your teeth straightened, adult braces can help realign your teeth for an improved smile. Orthodontic treatment with braces can also improve the health of your teeth, mouth, and jaw.
However, without a dental insurance plan, braces can be costly. They can cost approximately $6,000 (and even more for complex needs).2
Many dental coverage plans cover a portion of orthodontic dental services for children 19 years or younger. Insurance covering braces for adults is available, but it is not as common as it is often considered cosmetic.
Finding dental insurance plans that include coverage for adult braces can be challenging. Some dental insurance policies set an age limit on orthodontic coverage, which is usually around age 19.
If your insurance company offers coverage for adult braces, check if there is a yearly maximum benefit or lifetime maximum for braces. Some dental policies pay a percentage of the dentist’s fees, while others cover a flat fee.
Lifetime maximum benefit amounts for braces are usually the most common limitation. Orthodontic insurance companies that cover braces for adults can help you save money on what may otherwise be a significantly expensive procedure.
Here are some of the best dental insurance plans for adult orthodontics:
Delta Dental is the biggest dental coverage provider in the United States.
This provider offers many plan choices with different levels of orthodontic coverage at a range of price points. There are plans for basic orthodontic coverage (at a low cost) to comprehensive coverage (at a higher cost).
Depending on where you live, you may be able to sign up for Delta Dental on your state’s health insurance exchange or healthcare.gov. Whichever dental plan you sign up for will cover at least a portion of your orthodontic treatment.
A major health and dental insurance company, Aetna was acquired by CVS in November 2018. CVS is a nationwide drug store chain, and it maintains Aetna under the CVS Health subsidiary.
Aetna offers discounts for orthodontics for less than 12 dollars per month. While not all dental plans provide orthodontics coverage, Aetna offers various discount plans that include orthodontics procedure coverage or discounts.
American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus, otherwise known as Aflac, provides dental insurance supplements with an optional rider for orthodontics. Supplemental coverage functions to work alongside another insurance policy. In this case, it is health insurance.
However, policies and pricing are not available entirely online. You must fill out an online form or call Aflac for a quote, which is not ideal for many buyers.
As Aflac offers dental insurance as a supplement and orthodontic coverage as a rider, you can create a somewhat customized insurance policy to meet your orthodontic needs. Like with other insurance companies, monthly costs and coverage differs by the level you choose.
Orthodontic insurance for adults typically includes discounts and some coverage for treatment.
This coverage may include:
However, just because you have orthodontic insurance does not mean your braces will be free. When orthodontics is included in a dental insurance policy, you will likely experience waiting periods before benefits begin.
Once benefits begin, you will need to meet a minimum deductible before the insurance begins to pay. Depending on your dental plan, you could still owe 50% or more of the cost for orthodontic treatment.
Even with a high-quality dental insurance policy that includes orthodontic treatment, you may still have to pay thousands of dollars out-of-pocket for traditional braces and similar treatments. The costs depend on the policy you choose.
Many dental insurance policies cover clear aligner treatment like Invisalign the same way they cover braces.1 Your insurance company may pay for a certain amount of your clear aligner treatment, or it may cover a specific dollar amount.
Usually, there is a lifetime cap on the amount insurance will cover for orthodontic treatment.
The cost of braces can differ based on the type of treatment and length of treatment needed. Even without orthodontic coverage, which can be costly alone, there are other ways to save on orthodontic treatment.
It is up to you to decide if orthodontic insurance is worth it. You can meet with a local orthodontist to determine an estimate of costs without insurance. This can help determine if you can afford treatment without insurance or need to look for alternative options.
Here are some alternative ways to pay for adult orthodontic treatment:
Instead of going to a full orthodontic practice, consider visiting a local dental school. Most states have dental schools that welcome patients on specific days. Students need to complete supervised treatments as part of their orthodontic training with their faculty members.
Most orthodontic clinics provide payment plans for patients without dental insurance. For example, many clinics team up with financing companies to offer flexible payment options that cost less than conventional credit financing.
Many payment plans require little to no interest and are payable by up to two years. These payment plans help significantly when investing in braces for adults.
Even if your dental plan does not pay for orthodontics, your employer may provide a flexible spending account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA.) If your employer provides this perk, it is best to contribute the maximum amount allowed into your account.
The money you place in the account is not taxed. This means your dollar will go further. Use this money to pay for expenses not covered by insurance, such as braces and deductibles.
Your FSA or HSA may also cover co-pays and dental office visits.
Many states offer dental assistance programs to help low-income families receive the dental treatment they need. In some circumstances, not-for-profit organizations can help.
Ways to pay for Invisalign® treatment, Invisalign
Anderson, Eric & Sim, Ginny & Sandoval, Pedro & Campbell, Brooke. (2020). A Comparative Expected Cost Analysis Study on Dental Services and Products Used in the United States.
Imani, Mohammad Moslem et al. “A decision-making process to undergo orthodontic treatment: a qualitative study.” Patient preference and adherence vol. 12 2243-2251. 29 Oct. 2018, doi:10.2147/PPA.S177462
Navabi, N et al. “Orthodontic treatment and the oral health-related quality of life of patients.” Journal of dentistry (Tehran, Iran) vol. 9,3 (2012): 247-54.
Braces Have Changed, From Metal to Tooth-Colored to Clear, U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), June 2017
Orthodontia, MedlinePlus, April 2021