As far as physical improvements go, braces have become a rite of passage for most people. They do more than just improve your smile, braces can also improve a variety of health problems ranging from breathing issues to dental issues caused by teeth overcrowding or a poor bite. However, they are still quite expensive, as some types of braces can cost upwards of S$10,000. Because you can't use Medisave, Medishield Life or Integrated Shield plans to cover the cost of braces, you will be responsible for bearing most of the cost yourself. To help make braces a more financially feasible undertaking—whether they'll be for your or your children—we've explored 4 things you can do to save on braces.
Opt for Metal Braces for Your Children
If your child needs braces but you are on a tight budget, metal braces will be your most affordable option. While this may not be as aesthetically pleasing as lingual braces or Invisalign, metal braces can cost up to a few thousand dollars less than these alternative. For instance, while Invisalign costs around around S$10,000 and lingual braces cost between S$10,000 and S$14,000, metal braces only cost between S$1,000 and S$6,500 (depending on severity). While it may make sense for adults to opt for less visible treatment options, metal braces are a fairly common sight on children around the world and there is no direct benefit in giving them more expensive but less visible versions.
For Expats: Your International Health Insurance May Cover Braces
Expats who do not have Medishield Life, Integrated Shield Plans or Medisave can actually purchase an add-on to their international health insurance plan that can cover up to 50% of your orthodontic costs. If you already have a private health insurance plan, it can be beneficial to check with them to see if you have coverage for braces or purchase the add-on to get your braces covered (you should just make sure you wait the allotted time before starting treatment if there is one in your policy documents). However, we do not recommend buying a plan just to get coverage for braces since the annual cost of some of these plans cost is about the same as getting braces.
Compare Pricing and Payment Options Across Several Orthodontists
There are a plethora of dental clinics in Singapore that offer a variety of teeth-straightening services. While prices are generally all in the same vicinity, some orthodontists can offer braces for a lower cost than others, or have better payment plans. For instance, some dentists let you pay for your braces in monthly, interest-free payments. You can also consider checking out new orthodontic start-ups like Zenyum. Zenyum offers 3-D printed invisible braces for S$2,200, which tends to be 70% cheaper than Invisalign. However, this type of braces is usually only recommended for minor orthodontic improvement. Regardless of how you will pay for your braces, you should use a credit card with generous cashback or rewards to at least get some cash back or points for this rather expensive investment.
Additionally, it is important to always make sure you visit an accredited and well-reviewed orthodontist. If a price sounds too good to be true or the practice looks less than professional, you should avoid it and instead seek other options even if the are more expensive.
NSF Personnel & Students Should Check for Discounted Packages
Some dental practices offer discounts for students and NSF personnel. However, because dental practices have different student eligibilities, you should compare dental practices and read their terms carefully to make sure your age and academic situation is eligible. Student packages typically include a consultation, X-rays, scaling and polishing and braces and can offer up to a 25% discount. Full time National Service personnel who can provide a valid 11B are also offered orthodontic packages and can receive up to a 20-30% discount. In some cases, the consultation fee will also be subtracted from your total braces cost, which can drive your cost down by an additional S$100-S$250.
Current Student/NSF Braces Packages
General Advice for Paying for Costly Medical Procedures
Sometimes, expensive medical procedures are necessary even if you don't have the means to pay for them. In cases where it's not urgent, there are several things you can do to help avoid going into debt. For instance, you can put off getting braces for a year and save a little bit extra per month to be able to pay for braces without resorting to a loan or large credit card payments. If you can not afford to put savings aside, then we recommend opting for a personal loan or a 0% instalment credit card to avoid paying high credit card fees. Lastly, you should always try to stay within your budget. Even if you want Invisalign or lingual braces because they are nicer aesthetically, you should only opt for the type of braces you can afford. Braces are a temporary treatment and it may not be worth it to go into debt for a year's worth of minor discomfort.