There’s no denying the fact that orthodontic treatment is expensive. Braces require a lot of time and expertise in addition to the raw materials used in straightening teeth.
If you are interested in orthodontic treatment for yourself or your child, you might be wondering how to afford the expense or even how to get braces for free. So, good news, because here is where your search for free braces begins.
What Are Free Braces?
It’s quite rare to find braces that are truly free. Orthodontic treatment is pricey, as the average cost of braces in the United States is around 5,000 USD. Orthodontics is a field of specialty dental care that incorporates intricate techniques and technologies. The treatment is carried out by a highly trained specialist called an orthodontist, and that level of care costs money.
But, even though orthodontic treatments (any types of braces meant to fix your smile) are expensive, they can be life-change and worth the investment. Crooked teeth can lead to a range of costly and painful dental issues. The benefits of having straight teeth, on the other hand, are virtually endless.
For example, multiple studies show that getting braces can actually reduce your risk of tooth decay. This is because evenly spaced teeth are easier to clean and less likely to trap cavity-causing bacteria.
Additionally, having straighter teeth can lead to things like a brighter smile, fresher breath, a more comfortable bite, fewer headaches, and improved confidence.
That’s why people seeking those benefits try to take their tooth alignment into their own hands in an effort to enjoy free braces, and they do so quite literally.
You’ll likely encounter dozens of tutorials and testimonials online of people who claim to have straightened their own teeth using things like paper clips, rubber bands, dental floss, or even their own fingers or tongue.
While a lot of suggested DIY braces techniques may be essentially free, they can cause a lot of expensive damage and are definitely not worth the risk!
Instead of a DYI option, start with a search for an economically priced professional treatment. But, how to get braces for free? First, you need to meet certain criteria to qualify for free braces.
Do You Qualify for Free Braces?
Most individuals who qualify to receive free orthodontic treatment at a reputable orthodontic practice must meet certain income criteria. But, you are probably wondering: how to qualify for free braces?
Proof of income is required and specific earning criteria varies from program to program. Dental treatment is a basic need, but it can feel like a luxury to low-income earners. Programs that offer free braces are meant to provide some material support to disadvantaged individuals.
If you think that paying for braces is out of your financial means, then you just might qualify for one or more programs that offer free braces.
We’ll discuss those programs below as we break down the free braces options for kids and adults.
How to Get Free Braces for Children
Medicaid & CHIP
Kids qualify for free braces under Medicaid when orthodontic treatment is medically-necessary (for example, to fix difficulty chewing or biting, a jaw problem, jaws, and teeth that are out of proportion compared to the rest of the face, etcetera.)
If you don’t have Medicaid yet, it’s worth looking into to see if you qualify for certain orthodontic benefits in your state. But, how to get free braces with Medicaid? Well, technically, Medicaid doesn’t provide free braces, as it will only cover a part of the total cost.
Besides, you can check CHIP (The Children’s Health Insurance Plan), a program that may not offer free braces, but may provide a discounted option.
S4L (Smile for a Lifetime)
Can your child prove dedication to community and self-betterment with a good reputation at school or by their volunteering? The Smile for a Lifetime program could win your child free braces via an orthodontic scholarship.
The catch, however, is that the braces, even colored braces, aren’t entirely free; there’s a $20 application fee and then an investment fee of $480 once your child is accepted onto the waiting list. If the scholarship is denied, you’ll get that $480 back. And if the scholarship is awarded, your child will get all the benefits of treatment from a local participating orthodontist (coordinated by S4L) who volunteers their time and services to straighten the teeth of children from families who couldn’t otherwise afford the treatment. So, first thing you should do is apply and make sure you find an orthodontist that works with this program.
Smiles Change Lives
This program has truly been life-changing for many young people. If your child is under the age of 21, has reasonably good dental health, and if your family’s financial circumstances qualify, then your child could receive free braces treatment via the Smiles Change Lives program.
How to Get Free Braces for Adults
Probably the first question that came to your mind was: how to get free braces with Medicaid? Medicaid typically does not cover the cost of braces for adults unless deemed medically necessary. Although, the overall cost of your braces treatment might be made cheaper when Medicaid covers some of the adjunctive services necessary for your treatment (things like jaw surgery and tooth extractions).
Aside from those unique situations, it’s not easy for adults to qualify for free braces.
How to get free braces for college students?
Actually, it’s very difficult (if not impossible) to get free braces for college students; however, there are some ways to reduce the cost and some programs that can help you pay for the whole treatment.
For reducing the cost, the best option is to get good dental insurance that covers braces (there are some insurances made for college students) or go to dental schools near you where they can provide orthodontic treatment at a very affordable price.
The other option is finding a dental program. If you google “free braces programs near me” you´ll probably find a lot of information, but the best thing is to check the programs offered by The American Association of Orthodontists (if you are 17 or 18), the benefits offered by your university if it has a dental school (in Canada, for example, they have a StudentDentalCare Network) and your state’ Department of Health website (there they always publish all the programs available, for example, Texa’s page).
Don’t Qualify for Free Braces? Here Are Some Cheaper Treatment Options
Even if you don’t qualify for free braces, there are still some other ways you can save money on this worthwhile treatment.
Dental Savings Plans for Braces
A dental savings plan is similar to dental insurance that covers braces in some ways, but it’s less complicated and can save you a lot of money in the long run. You buy a membership into a savings plan on a monthly or yearly basis for a price that’s much less than most insurance premiums. The plan then entitles you to significant discounts on treatment by participating dentists and orthodontists.
Dentalsave, for example, can save you some 25% on the entire cost of braces treatment for your kids.
Dental savings plans offer benefits on all treatments with no caps or limitations. Coverage immediately goes into effect when the plan is purchased. You will pay the dentist or orthodontist directly instead of haggling with an insurance company.
Visit a Dental School
All orthodontists have to start practicing on someone! Before they can open up their own orthodontic practices, dentists have to complete a few more years of education and clinical training to become certified as orthodontists.
The best way to learn is by practical application, so budding orthodontists need to find patients that they can work on as they learn.
Take advantage of the need for new patients in dental schools by putting your name on the list to get braces. Getting braces in an orthodontic school may not be free, but it will be significantly cheaper than visiting an established orthodontist.
And don’t worry; visiting a dental school doesn’t mean that you’ll get sub-par treatment. All of the procedures are carefully overseen by experienced instructors. Rest assured, you will finish your treatment with straight teeth and a huge money savings.
Ask for In-House Financing
You never know until you ask. Most dental and orthodontic practices are willing to work out some kind of flexible payment plan to reliable patients who need to cut a deal. You might get a major discount on your overall braces treatment if you pay upfront or leave a significant deposit.
Your local orthodontic practice may also be able to direct you to other funding programs or financial resources that can help you afford braces.
Try Clear Aligners
As you’ve probably figured out by now, most of the programs and scholarships out there for free braces usually benefit children.
So it’s good to have resources that will help you invest in your children’s future.
But does this mean that you’ve missed your chance if you’re an adult?
By no means! Even if you can’t get free braces as an adult, you likely do qualify for some cheaper braces alternatives that most kids can’t have.
For instance, there are many brands of clear orthodontic aligners that you can order right online. These companies cut down the cost of traditional braces treatment by eliminating trips to the office.
Editors' Picks: The 3 Top Alternatives to Braces
As we have mentioned above, clear aligners are a great alternative to get an affordable alignment treatment. Clear aligners work just as well as regular braces and are very convenient treatment.
There are a lot of brands out there, that´s why we have choose the best 3 brands for us for you to try.
Founded by Dr. Jon Marashi, Byte is one of the best clear aligner brands because they offer a high-quality treatment at a budget-friendly price with which you can achieve the perfect smile in only three months (average).
They offer two types of treatment: the At-Day treatment plan for $1895 (or $82 per month for 32 months with a $249 down payment) and the At-Night treatment for $2295 (or $99 per month for 32 months with a $299 down payment).
Now, they have a special offer with which you can get $100 OFF, the impressions kit for ONLY $29.95 and BrightBytePRO whitening kit for FREE.
The new brand on the block, NewSmile, is a recent company that works both in the USA and Canada but has proven to be a fierce competitor in the teeth alignment industry.
Like Byte, they provide daytime and nighttime treatments: being the daytime treatment is $1295 and the nighttime $1395 total. But if you don’t want to pay the whole treatment in one payment, they also offer convenient monthly payments. For the daytime, the monthly plans start from $77 per month (18 months) with 0% with Affirm and $83 per month for the nighttime.
By using TheTeethBlog promo code TBDEAL you can get $100 OFF your treatment plan.
Do You Need Braces? Find Out for Free
One last thing you should know when it comes to braces is that it’s free to find out whether or not you need them.
Most orthodontic offices offer free initial consultations where the doctor will assess your teeth (or your child’s) and give you an estimate of how much your treatment will cost. Then, the office can let you know what your payment and financing options are.
It costs you nothing to just have this appointment and learn once and for all exactly how much braces could cost you.
And how about clear teeth aligners? Most companies will send you an impression kit or have you visit a participating orthodontist to find out if your teeth qualify. If they do, you can choose whether or not to move ahead with treatment. That initial evaluation is either free, refunded, or costs very little, depending on the company.
With a little research, find the perfect way to get discounted or free braces for you and your family!