How to pay for the smile you always wanted.
Just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean it’s too late to straighten your teeth. In fact, it can have a significant impact on your daily life and mental health. One in every five American adults experience anxiety over the condition of their teeth, and one in every four even avoid smiling for that reason, according to the American Dental Association.
Cost is the main reason Americans don’t visit the dentist regularly. But you don’t necessarily need to have the money up front to pay for adult braces.
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How can I finance Invisalign?
Invisalign isn’t always affordable. But you have several options when it comes to paying for it — and not all involve taking on debt.
Before you look into any other options, take a look at your insurance plans. While many dental plans cover Invisalign, some general insurance plans also cover orthodontic procedures. Even if you have a dental plan, there’s a chance you won’t be entirely covered — usually only up to $3,500. Invisalign can be as much as $8,000.
If you’re not sure how it works, reach out to your insurance company or your employer’s HR department to discuss the details of your policy. Before you move on to next steps, talk to your orthodontist for an estimate of how much Invisalign costs for you so you’ll know what you need to finance.
In-house payment plan
Some orthodontists allow patients to pay off the cost of Invisalign in multiple installments rather than a lump sum. In this case, you might not have your credit checked or have to pay any interest.
However, other orthodontists partner with outside lenders that charge interest and run a credit check, which can affect your score. If this is the case, consider shopping around for other healthcare or general-use personal loans to get the most competitive rates.
Health savings account (HSA)
Take a look at the deductible on your health insurance policy. If it’s $1,350 or higher on an individual plan or $2,700 or higher on a family plan, you’re eligible for an HSA. With an HSA, you deposit pre-tax dollars from your salary to use for medical expenses, including Invisalign. Individuals can contribute up to $3,450 a year to an HSA, and whatever you don’t spend rolls over to the next year.
Many insurance companies offer HSAs along with high-deductible plans. You can also open an HSA at a bank or other financial institution. Some come with a debit card to access funds, while others require you to pay for expenses up front and get reimbursed.
Flexible spending account (FSA)
An FSA works a lot like an HSA, but FSAs are only available through your employer, and you can only set aside $2,650 a year per employer you work with. The funds also don’t roll over into the next year, so you can’t use an FSA to save up for a medical expense larger than $2,650.
If you have strong personal credit and relatively few debts, you might qualify for a low-interest personal loan. Personal loans typically range from $2,000 to $50,000 with APRs starting at around 6%. Often you have between three and five years to pay it off, though many lenders don’t charge a penalty to pay it off early.
You can look for a general-use personal loan or a provider that offers medical loans. Before you apply, take into account exactly how much you’ll need to finance.
Think you’ll be able to pay off your debt within the next year and have good credit? Consider taking out a new credit card to pay for Invisalign. Many come with interest-free promotional periods from six to 18 months, making it a flexible, low-cost financing option.
Pay off your balance before the promotional period is up, however. Credit cards tend to come with higher interest rates than personal loans. And without a structured repayment plan, it can be tempting to let that interest add up.
If you have bad credit or don’t want to take on more debt, consider good old-fashioned saving. Set up a high-interest savings account and contribute what you can each month until you have enough money to cover what your insurance can’t. To help you save faster, create a budget or use an app that allows you to set a savings goal like Mint.
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How much does Invisalign cost?
Invisalign is typically more expensive than other types of braces. The actual cost can range anywhere from $3,000 to $8,000. In comparison, other braces typically cost between $2,500 and $6,000.
Other costs to consider include:
- The consultation. Many orthodontists charge between $100 and $200 to take a look at your teeth and see if you can benefit from Invisalign. Your insurance might cover this cost.
- X-rays. Your orthodontist may X-ray your teeth before fitting you with Invisalign, which could set you back between $25 and $250.
- Continuing treatment. The cost of extra checkups and nighttime retainers can add up to over $1,000.
Generally, the less work that needs to be done, the less expensive the treatment. If you have other dental issues such as missing teeth, you might have to pay more.
Invisalign isn’t the only way to straighten your teeth as an adult. If you’re concerned about the cost, check out these alternatives:
- ClearCorrect. ClearCorrect is similar to Invisalign — it’s a plastic tray that you can put in and remove from your mouth to eat or brush your teeth. It can also be cheaper, usually ranging from $2,000 to $8,000.
- Smile Direct Club. If your teeth don’t need much work, Smile Direct Club lets you forego the orthodontist entirely. All you have to do is send in an impression of your teeth and receive your aligners in the mail. It costs $1,850 if you pay in full, or $2,150 if you opt for the monthly payment plan.
5 tips to get the most out of Invisalign
- Wear your aligners. Invisalign isn’t going to be much help if you don’t wear them the recommended 22 hours a day. If you wear them 19 hours or less, add on about two more weeks to your original schedule.
- Keep them clean. There’s a lot going on in your mouth when you’re wearing Invisalign. While it’s always important to brush and floss your teeth, you’ll also want to clean your aligners with warm water and antibacterial soap to keep germs away.
- Use chewies. Chewies are small soft plastic-like cylinders that you can use to make sure a new aligner fits tight against your teeth. Making sure your Invisalign is on properly can speed up the time it takes to straighten your teeth.
- Practice speaking. Aligners can give you a slight lisp until you’re used to speaking with them in. The more you practice speaking with close friends or family, the more comfortable you’ll be wearing them all day.
- Listen to your orthodontist. Not everyone needs to wear aligners for the same period of time. Go in for regular appointments and listen if they say you need to wear an aligner for a few more days before moving on to the next.
Invisalign can cost as much as $8,000 and your insurance likely won’t cover it all. If you don’t have an HSA or FSA to help you out — or the time to save up yourself — a personal loan might be what you’re looking for. You can learn more about how borrowing work and compare lenders by visiting our personal loans guide.
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