Dental insurance for braces

I’m trying to decide whether to buy private dental insurance (Delta Dental Premium) to help with the cost of braces. I am fortunate enough to have dental through my employer for about $20 per month with a $50 per year deductible. Unfortunately, United Concordia will not cover orthodontics for adults. Delta Dental will cost $55 a month and only cover a lifetime maximum of $1000 for ortho with a 12 month waiting period. So I will be paying $660 before I can get the $1000 benefit. I haven’t had a consultation with an orthodontist yet, but my teeth have needed braces since I was a child (now I’m 32) and my parents didn’t get them for me. I’ve looked at both plans and Delta covers things that my current insurance won’t cover such as 50% of implants (which I may need once ortho is complete due to missing teeth). I have about $2000 saved for braces and I know it will cost me a lot more, but I’ve recently noticed my teeth are degrading more rapidly than before due to my bite. I’m not sure I want to wait another year to start correcting them. I’ve found an orthodontist who’s website says they do in house financing at 0% interest.
Should I just pay for my braces out of pocket or get a second insurance policy?
Thanks in advance for your replies

Lifetime $1000 max after paying $660 for 12 months? That doesn’t sound like a big help for the thousands that orthodontics will cost, plus it’s a year-long delay on the work you need to have done!

Are orthodontic expenses tax-deductible (along with the premiums)? Not sure if that counts for medical/dental expenses, though it probably should!

I wonder if you talked to some orthodontists (not just the website) to see if they do financing.

Take care of your teeth! Many health problems can result, plus pain, bite issues, jaw problems, and your own self confidence. I wouldn’t wait the year for $1000 … my 2 cents.
Best of luck!

I have been doing orthodontics for 35 years. No orthodontists I have met do their own financing. Orthodontics is paid over time, anyway. A down payment, then payments every month. If you want financing for more than the time in treatment, you will need to use a credit card or a bank.

PLEASE don’t think, as many patients do, that every ortho case is a clear aligner case. I see many aligner cases started that cannot be finished. Brackets provide a whole lot more control.

Orthodontic expenses are tax deductible just like any other medical expense. But you must be able to itemize.

As you have found, United Concordia is one of the worst carriers out there. Delta Dental is not much better. Too bad, I have a couple of articles about orthodontics and financing dental care, but when I try to link to them, the moderators usually remove the link.

Patient always have the false hope about dental benefit plans covering a big chunk of their dental bills. Trouble is, it is not uncommon for a complex ortho/ restorative/prosthetic/implant case to go $20,000, and the typical yearly dental maximum is a drop in the bucket compared to that. The sequence of events should be:

  1. Get root canals, extractions, gum disease and cavities taken care of, but NO CROWNS.
  2. Complete your orthodontics.
  3. Get any implants you need.
  4. Crown any teeth that need it, and construct implant crowns.

Find a dentist, if possible, that will do the orthodontics, implants, and the rest in house. That will save you money. Guys like that are usually ex-military and older.

Avoid corporate clinics like Coast, Aspen, Great Expressions, Sage, Western, and all the other garbage like the plague. Patients get ripped off and due to dentist turnover, cases never get completed. Nobody but losers and new graduates work at these mills for any length of time.


Make sure the credit card is a good cash-back one! I put my implants on my credit card…and at least got some % cash back!

My implant costs weren’t deductible for Federal (I couldn’t itemize), but they were deductible for my state taxes. Every little bit helps!

One more bit of advice: extreme caution is needed getting implants abroad. Post-op visits are necessary. Many trips to the foreign locale are costly. 3rd world countries often use implant systems not available in the USA, because they are not FDA approved. If a part like a screw is needed in a hurry, you will be out of luck.

Also, many dentists like me will not touch an implant placed abroad except to remove it. I have seen many implant horror stories.

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Thank you for your replies.

Henrius – speaking of foreign implants…

My dentist of 20+ years said that many crowns are being made in China that can cause problems because they can contain questionable or even toxic materials. She will only use crowns made in the US, which follow US specifications. She said many dentists/dental plans send the work out to China because of cost, but then there can be further problems/damage because of the materials used.

I looked up online but couldn’t find much information about this issue. But I trust my dentist.

Have you heard much about these issues?

Not everyone feels as strongly about patronizing American labs as I do.

Patients want cheap, and the only way you can treat patients profitably on some PPO and DMO plans is to send lab work to China.

Although more and more dental prosthetic work is milled zirconia (whether appropriate are not) using metal alloys is still unavoidable. In fact, metal crowns are still preferably in high-stress areas like 2nd molars.

Few dentists using Chinese labs bother to check out alloy content. Frankly, many don’t even care. You cannot count on Chinese labs to honestly or accurately report alloy content anyway. Lead has been found as well as other questionable elements. But to be honest, some very poor alloys came from Brazil also.

Some cheap American labs clandestinely are forwarders to Chinese labs. The question to ask a prospective dentist is: “Do you exclusively use American labs? To your knowledge, do any of your labs forward the work to China?” Most independent dentists would probably answer you honestly. Most corporate dental clinics would not.

Alloy content is especially important to things put on implants. A broken screw of a questionable alloy in an implant poses a really, really big problem to fix. Maybe even removal of the implant.

Wow-- putting in the implant was such a job…I can’t imagine removing and re-doing it.

Takes a special bur to cut the bone around the implant to get it to release. A friend of mine had a broken screw which anchored the abutment on the implant. The broken half of the screw could not be removed from the implant body. Rather than have the implant cut out, a graft done, and another implant, she elected to do without a molar tooth. You wouldn’t believe how important screw design, metallurgy, and quality control is. Then you have to torque it just enough and not too much.

Any type of implant failure is a very bad day in the office. Fortunately, the most common failure is that the bone does not integrate around it, and the implant just falls out.

I had no idea that anything other than local labs were ever used… Not just Ametican, but local, an in same city, or at least same state. My mother worked for a periodontist when I was in junior hi, high school, and partly in college. The lab they used, and every dentist I have used since (40-50 ish years) were always local…unless China can supply results in 3 to 5 days …

My crowns and implants (made in the USA) took a lot more than 3-5 days.

Because like every other business, US dental labs are short of labor.

Things have changed a lot. Most crowns and bridges are zirconia that is computer milled.

Many dentists have gone to digital scan impressions. The ones that don’t take models that are digitally scanned at a forwarding lab. They transmit the digital scans to China. Crowns and bridges are fabricated there and shipped back by air in bulk containers.

Sadly, cast crowns of precious metals are very rare these days except in offices of older dentists. Patients and insurance want things cheap, and that means computer milled zirconia crowns, often fabricated in China.

Partial denture frameworks fabricated in China are notorious for sketchy metal content.

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I wasn’t complaining about the time it took for implants/crowns. I understand things take time and there are logistics/labor issues. In fact, my implants took well over a year total, because of covid, plus healing times in between steps. Worth the time because they’ve been great.