Anna Cappelli, from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., shelled out $5,680 for her son's braces. And Beth Siggelkow, from High River, Alta., paid about $6,000 each for braces for her four kids. When you're putting down thousands of dollars for something, you want to make sure you're getting the best deal. We'll show you how.
Fees for braces vary – so it's good to get a few estimates. And there are no provincial fee guides for orthodontics as there are for dentistry. "Fixing a more complex problem will cost more than fixing a simple one," says Duncan Y. Brown, a certified specialist in orthodontics in Calgary. Location may also affect cost. Braces cost less in the Maritimes than in the rest of the country, especially Ontario and Quebec, says Bob Cram, past-president of the Canadian Association of Orthodontists. And you'll pay more if your orthodontist is in an urban centre where office space is expensive.
Interview prospective orthodontists – you'll be more likely to find one whose fees and approach suit you best. And don't be afraid to ask questions.
• Is everything included in the fee or are some services, such as diagnostic tests, extra?
• Will my child need tooth or jaw surgery, and what is the cost?
• If my child loses his retainer, is there a charge for providing a new one?
• Is there a fee if I cancel an appointment last-minute?
By asking these questions now, you'll avoid surprise charges later on. You can also make cost-conscious choices. Sometimes clear brackets cost more than metal ones – about $500 more at Floreani Dentistry in Sault Ste. Marie. Invisible braces (placed behind the teeth) can cost up to $1,000 more, adds Brown. And ask about payment options. For example, Cram allows patients to pay in monthly instalments, rather than requiring a big chunk of the cost up front. Brown gives a five per cent discount to clients who pay in full and offers interest-free payment plans.
Page 1 of 2 – Learn how to find an orthodontist on page 2.
Check to see if your employee benefit plan covers your child's orthodontic treatment. Insurance often pays 50 per cent of treatment, up to a certain amount (typically $1,000 to $1,500), but the insurance company may not let you claim the whole cost up front. If both you and your partner have benefit plans, use the one that covers more first, then the other plan for the remainder of the coverage, says Candace Nancke, a partner in Loren, Nancke and Company, an accounting firm in Vancouver.
Claim the amount that insurance doesn't cover as a tax credit. The lower-income earner should make the claim, because three per cent of the person’s income is deducted before the tax credit is calculated. For 2009, the tax credit is 15 per cent of the amount claimed (minus the three per cent deduction).
Looking for an orthodontist?
• Ask your dentist as well as your friends and family for suggestions.
• The Canadian Association of Orthodontists has an online directory of members at cao-aco.org.
• The Orthodontist Pages (orthopages.com) also has an online directory of orthodontists.
• Patients rate orthodontists at ratemds.com/social. Click on Find a Doctor by Name; select CA from the country menu, then a province, and then Orthodontia in the specialty menu.
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