Payment plans can make the cost of dental braces fit seamlessly into the monthly budget for patients without insurance.

Spreading costs out over time can help parents who lack sufficient savings to get treatment started for their teenage children. The same holds for adults wanting a more confident smile.

However, breaking down the obligation into equal monthly installments comes at a hefty price: origination fees and interest charges.

Therefore, shopping around for the best terms could save you a bundle. If you wait until you are at the orthodontist’s office, you limit your options and could pay higher fees and interest rates, get rejected, or face a large down payment.

3rd-Party Braces Payment Plans

Third-party finance companies work behind the scenes on most monthly payment plans for dental braces. Rather than billing for services as performed as orthodontists often do, they advance funding in exchange for your signature promise to satisfy the obligation over time.

Patients without insurance often wind up working with these specialty companies eventually. Why not begin where the rubber meets the road?

Finance Companies

Dental braces financing through third-party companies is the primary engine behind most payment plan arrangements. You have three basic approaches with unique pros and cons to consider.

  1. Online loan companies place your profile in front of an extensive lender network, which lowers your declination odds. If approved, the lender deposits money into your checking account.
    1. Borrow enough to cover the full cost of treatment: no down payment
    2. Select the orthodontist with the best pricing and service reputation.
  2. General-purpose credit cards are viable options for people with account limits high enough to accommodate the full treatment cost beginning at $5,000 for metal braces.
  3. Patient financing programs offer one-stop-shopping where your orthodontist refers you to a single third-party company they chose in advance. If approved, the lender sends the funding directly to the provider.

Direct-to-Consumer

Several direct-to-consumer orthodontia companies include monthly payment plan options as part of their service package. The companies offer 3D printed clear tooth aligner trays at a more affordable price by cutting out the expensive middle man – your local orthodontist who has to pay rent, utilities, staff, and student loans.

The organizations tout installment arrangements designed to appeal to people with all types of borrowing qualifications.

  • No credit check means they do not pull a consumer report from Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion but could decline applicants using other data sources
  • 100% approval means they accept all applicants regardless of history, but these patients pay the highest interest rates allowed by law
Smile DirectByteCandid

Lump-Sum

$1,950

$1,895

$2,400

Down Payment

$250

$349

$399

Monthly Amount

$89

$83

$99

Installments

24

29

24

Finance Charges

$436

$861

$375

Interest Rate

22.96%

38.86%

17.0%

Orthodontist Payment Plans

Have a realistic set of expectations when looking for a local orthodontist that offers monthly payment plans for patients without dental insurance. Would you stop by the neighborhood bank branch and ask them to help straighten your teeth?

Of course, that would be absurd because the two specialties are miles apart. However, orthodontists may agree to bill select costs in equal monthly installments to match the services they provide in phases over two to three years.

  • Phase 1 – During the first stage, your orthodontist evaluates the patient’s mouth and teeth condition to recommend a treatment protocol. They may utilize several tests in the initial visits.
    • Medical and dental evaluations
    • Bite impression study models
    • Panoramic X-rays
    • Computer-generated images
    • Before photographs
  • Phase 2 – During the second stage, your orthodontist affixes the chosen treatment option. He or she then adjusts the teeth pressures during periodic office visits over the next 1 to 3 years.
  • Phase 3 – During the final stage, the orthodontist removes the braces and fits the patient for a custom retainer using a mold. The retainer ensures that the teeth do not migrate back to their original position. The after photographs complete the picture.

Down Payment

Your local orthodontist might offer a payment plan in-house for any remaining treatment costs after you make a down payment. Providers incur most of their expenses (scans, X-rays, photos, appliances, and installation) at the beginning. Therefore, expect most practices to request a deposit upfront to align their cash flows.

The average down payment for metal braces without insurance is around 20% of the total treatment cost or about $1,000 ($5,000 X 20%) but could range higher with in-house programs. The practice might then bill the remaining charges over the next 18 to 24 months in equal installments.

However, your orthodontist is not offering credit in this example. The installment arrangement is more like a prepayment for future services.

  • Periodic adjustments
  • Removal of braces
  • Fit and fabricate retainer

Zero Down

On the other hand, orthodontists advertising treatment without a down payment would have to extend credit. Since most providers want to focus on their craft and want their money upfront, they likely will refer you to a third-party patient finance company.

A zero-down payment offer for braces without insurance could be a hybrid payment plan where both the orthodontist and finance company bill the patient.

  • The third-party funds the down payment upfront, and afterward, the patient repays the obligation in equal installments – to the finance company
  • The provider sends monthly bills as prepayment for future services such as adjustments, hardware removal, and the retainer

Invisalign

Payment plans for Invisalign typically involve a third-party finance company. Unlike the direct-to-consumer models noted above, only your local orthodontist can recommend Invisalign, and these providers have an additional reason not to extend credit to patients: their profit margins are lower.

  • With traditional metal braces, you are paying for the practitioner’s time and expertise
  • With clear Invisalign braces, you pay for the advanced technology of a nationwide organization
    • iTero Element Scanner for initial images
    • ClinCheck Software mapping tooth shifts
    • SmartTrack Material for custom fit trays
    • 3D Printing technology
    • SmartForce attachments for complex tooth movements

Final Thoughts

As you can see, payment plans for braces are not all the same and are just another name for financing in most cases. Orthodontists know little about banking, and bankers are incapable of straightening teeth.

Professional specialize for a reason.

Do not allow fancy names and misleading labels to lead you astray. Do your homework before arriving at your provider’s office or enrolling in a direct-to-consumer solution online.