Groan. I need dental braces as an adult... many questions.
July 31, 2008 8:11 PM   Subscribe

Groan. I need dental braces as an adult... many questions.

About fifteen years ago, when I was a teenager, I had my teeth straightened over many uncomfotable years. My teeth, as a result, were perfect, but since have moved dramatically, and continue to move and I have become sort of embarrased about them. I should mention that I'm 34 years of age, so re-visiting the days of my braces sounds about as appealing as, well, adolecence itself.

I saw an Orthodontist here in Sydney this week. Everything they said was exactly as I suspected, and they seemed like a terrific office in general. Sadly, the quote I received to correct my teeth, all from the underside (meaning no work visible) was $12,000. Needless to say I about swallowed my own teeth in alarm, and said I'd get back to them.

This quote is perhaps double what I was expecting to pay - I can probably justify up to $7,000. I called them this morning, explained it was too expensive for me, and asked if they could propose any other options, particularly, a less expensive option if I just take the plunge and get standard braces and be done with it. The revised quote? $9,000 because "my solution was relatively simple".

I called a friend who has been through the same thing of late and asked what she has paid, and if she can recommend her Orthodontist. She is having the complete treatment for $6,000, and likes her guy, who I can't see because of where my work is situated.

I can't really shop around, and see other dentists until I find the right price, because the initial consultation fee seems to be in the range of $300 wherever I go.

I'm sure it depends on your "case", but does anyone know:

Is there much variation in price from Orthodontist to Orthodontist?
Is anyone seeeing someone good, and affordable in the Chatswood area?
On the other hand, does anyone know of a great orthodontist in the city (Sydney) or elsewhere who does Saturdays or other peculiar hours, like later in the evenings or opens the practise early in the morning?
Does anyone know a good pricing hack - is any private health cover advisable, or a waste of money?
Any other tips?
posted by lottie to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Have you looked into Invisalign? I'm not sure it would be cheaper, but it should be simpler (if you're a good candidate) than traditional braces. They're also nearly invisible and you can take them out to eat.

posted by amtho at 9:13 PM on July 31, 2008

Can't answer your other questions but Private Health cover is definitely advisable if you expect to need dental work, and becomes more advisable as your age recedes from 30. Most Australian funds have significant waiting periods for "major dental", though, and excess fees almost certainly will also apply. Shop around for PHI, and if you're prepared to wait, you'll probably come out in front economically.
It seems to me also that the cost of major dental work, in dollars and in stress, easily justify a day's leave.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 9:24 PM on July 31, 2008

In a similar situation, I'm doing Invisalign. It's costing about $5000 USD total and taking a little over a year. I'm delighted with the process and the results so far.
posted by padraigin at 9:27 PM on July 31, 2008

I'm having this done in California for about $6000 for the orthodontics, plus more for extractions and other what nots. And isn't the US dollar worth, like, nothing these days? Come on over for some extended dental tourism.
posted by apostrophe at 10:38 PM on July 31, 2008

I am also an adult with braces. I got clear ceramic uppers and metal lowers (self ligating brackets) for $5400 in Brisbane. I can't imagine how they could justify $12000! Objectively, are your teeth really that bad?

I am positive you could shop around and get braces for around the $6000 mark... but I understand you not wanting to pay for the consultation fee. What I did when I was in your position was email/call quite a few different orthos and state my case, explaining I could not afford the consultation fee as I had already paid one ortho a consultation fee, and saying that if they could give me a quote for free I would be much obliged (and more than happy to pay the fee if it turned out I was going to continue on with them for the orthodontic work).

A couple of them agreed! I think, especially if you mention that you were quoted $12000, some orthos might see that as a really easy price to beat.

So try that out. Also you might want to ask this question at Archwired forums.
posted by mjao at 10:43 PM on July 31, 2008

Wow, that price seems pretty high. A lot of orthodontists in the US do free consultations, wonder if there are any that will do that down under. You could also just bring your results of your consultation in to the other one and see how much he can quote you.

I have to get braces too, and invisalign won't work for me since while my teeth are straight, my bite is all sorts of crazy. The quote I received was for $6k USD.
posted by idiotfactory at 10:56 PM on July 31, 2008

I got braces as an adult (mid-20s) a couple of years ago, and from memory it cost me around $2500 in Melbourne, although I only needed them for nine months to fix a couple of badly out-of-place teeth. These were standard metal front-of-teeth braces - my ortho told me that ceramics would take a lot longer to fix the problem I had.

I looked into private health insurance, but discovered that many funds have a 'lifetime limit' on orthodontics - so if the work you had done as a teenager was covered by insurance, you may have already hit that limit and won't be covered now with any fund. There may be a way around this though - I didn't dig too deep into the details. I also suspect that, given my ortho knew I didn't have private health cover, I was quoted lower than I would have otherwise been (no proof of this though).
posted by une_heure_pleine at 5:01 AM on August 1, 2008

Shop around for private health insurance, but be prepared to be disgusted. In my case, I felt dental cover not worth the cost. I used iSelect and the BEST package they could find for my circumstances offered an annual compounding dental rebate of $400 after a 12 month waiting period. So first 12 months, no dental rebates at all, 2nd $400, which if it wasn't used would give you up to $800 in your 2nd year, which if not used would give you $1200 in your 3rd year and so on.

You may be able to claim a tax rebate on part of the cost. Have a look here. I think it can easily be argued that your case is eligible for the rebate.
posted by goshling at 4:28 PM on August 1, 2008

I don't know about Austalia, but in the US it was easy to shop around for me, I had offers from 4500 - 8000USD, and ended up going with the cheapest because I thought he was the most competent of the group. There was never a consultation fee.

Japan, on the other hand, is a different matter. It seems like even the cheapest orthodontist wanted about 100USD for a consultation, where they don't really do anything except give you a ridiculous quote (always around 10,000USD). So, I suppose it all depends on the country.

(for the record I found a great orthodontist in Tokyo that so far hasn't charged me anything because he understands I paid the "whole price" to my original guy back in the US--
posted by phaedrus441 at 9:19 PM on August 1, 2008

I can't figure out how to reply to specific comments (no doubt simple - I would love someone to explain how...)

But in answer to mjao, my teeth really aren't so terribly bad. Some people even have said they like them the way they are, but I have a problem with them and will feel bad about them until I have them fixed. I think the bigger issue is that they are getting worse and causing other problems, particularly with my gums.

The orthodontist I consulted believes Invisalign would be too slow, and not appropriate in my case.

By the way, how much does private health cover suck in this country? A few hundred dollars doesn't really help much, in the scheme of things.

I may just take the plunge with guy who can help me where it's convenient for me (near work) and take advantage of the tax rebate.
posted by lottie at 9:23 PM on August 3, 2008

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