Health Team

Orthodontist: Braces aren't as expensive as you think

Posted September 9, 2016 12:04 p.m. EDT
Updated September 9, 2016 6:08 p.m. EDT

— More and more young people are asking for braces to achieve "a perfect smile."

All those orthodontic appointments sound expensive, but according to one doctor, braces don't have to cost a fortune.

It's rare for a child's teeth to grow naturally into a Hollywood-style smile. Some teenagers need braces to avoid serious oral health issues, but many others simply want them for aesthetic reasons.

Amaya Royster, a patient at the UNC School of Dentistry, loves getting her braces adjusted with Dr. Sylvia Frazier-Bowers.

Royster asked for braces a year ago. At that time, many of her friends were getting braces, and she became self-conscious about her smile.

"I had a big space in between my top two teeth, and my bottom teeth were kind of spaced out," Royster said. "I'm just happy that my teeth are going to be straight."

"It's almost becoming a rite of passage for kids," said Christina Royster, Amaya's mother. "There's an expectation that, once you get to a certain age, it's time to get braces."

Royster says her daughter's braces were more affordable at the university's dental school than at other offices. According Frazier-Bowers, an associate professor of orthodontics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, braces are not as expensive as you think.

"The sticker price may shock some families, but relative to the cost of living, the price of braces has not gone up a lot," Frazier-Bowers said. "There are a lot of different financing plans available to help people."

For many low-income families, Medicaid may approve coverage for braces. For those who are not covered, financing plans can stretch payments out over time without adding interest fees.

Amaya's parents say her braces have been worth the cost and not just because of their daughter's more confident smile.

"I think I'm more impressed with the increase in her hygiene," Royster said. "She brushes at night and in the morning, and she flosses."