Deplorable orthodontics

My wife is getting braces in 2017. Please spare me the jokes about Black and Decker Pecker Wreckers and all that. I’ve heard ‘em all. I look on the bright side: it’ll be like being back in high school and banging those cheerleaders I missed out on by being a geek.

She needs to fix a “crossbite” that causes her to grind and clench her teeth when she’s sleeping, and actually caused her to break a tooth a couple of weeks ago. Braces beat broken teeth. The side benefit – that she likes – is that she’ll have a “Hollywood smile” at the end of the process. She actually has a very nice smile now, but it’s not perfect, and like me she’s deplorably vain.

braceface

Braces aren’t cheap, as anyone who has gone through it or put a child through it will attest. Most people do it via a payment plan through their orthodontist, or some combination of debt and insurance. Being deplorable, I detest the idea of debt. When my wife began considering braces earlier this year, I started saving money for it.

She tentatively decided on metal braces, which lowers cost somewhat. Apparently Invisalign isn’t good for people with crossbites, and she doesn’t like how clear braces look like yellow stains on the teeth from any significant distance. Besides, she reasons, it’s not like people won’t be able to tell she has braces. In any event, my wife is completely immune to embarrassment, so metal braces won’t bother her in that respect.

I started by putting away $200 a month, but once she went to a couple of orthodontic consultations, I realized I needed to save more. I upped the monthly amount to $300, which I broke up as $200 from my first monthly paycheck and $100 from my second. I quickly saved up $4000, which I literally have in a manila envelope in the desk in my office. Now that’s a Dave Ramsey envelope system.

My company’s open enrollment period for insurance coincided with my braces-savings period. The premium dental plan is an extra $20 a month, but pays out a $1000 orthodontic benefit. I switched to that plan, which will net a $760 “profit” when the time comes to pay for the braces.

One interesting thing I ran across while researching this was a Black Friday special. You read that right: a Black Friday special for braces. This small dental chain called Risas Dental and Braces normally costs $3300 (she’s already done a consult there), but if you pay up on Black Friday it drops to $2000. If I combined that with the insurance benefit, it would be a paltry $1000 out of pocket.

So $1000 for braces, or $1240 if you include the increased insurance premiums. Not bad. I’m not sure she’ll go that route, since Risas seems a little ghetto, but the big lesson I learned is that braces are now just another commodity that’s marked way up and therefore negotiable.

I am a deplorable consumer.

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