Orthodontic treatment costs: expense or investment? Understanding the return on investment from orthodontic treatment

Wondering if orthodontic treatment is expensive?

It’s a great question.

If you or your child is about to embark on a journey to straighter teeth, or even undertake more complex orthodontic treatment, it’s worthwhile understanding orthodontic treatment costs. Why? Because every patient deserves to see the cost of orthodontic treatment as an investment, rather than an expense.

Making this slight shift in perception can help in a number of ways. Read on here to discover ways orthodontic treatment costs are really an investment in a healthier, more confidence future.

Orthodontic treatment costs (investment!) pay a lifetime dividend

As a parent myself, I am well aware of the costs associated with kids. We want the best for them, and it seems like at every corner, there’s a new thing to spend money on. It’s just so easy to be sucked in, isn’t it?

While I’m in the same boat as other parents, as an orthodontist, I take a very different view to orthodontic treatment expenses. Actually, rather than think of it as an expense, I consider orthodontic treatment as an investment.

But it’s not just any kind of investment. Orthodontic treatment is the kind of investment that lasts a lifetime. It yields ongoing returns, builds confidence, makes people happy, and is well worth every effort taken to make it happen.

At the start of orthodontic treatment, I know many people baulk at the costs. However, by the end of treatment, they have a vastly different view of things. Although you’re paying in cash, what you get in return is often intangible and worth much more.

The true value of orthodontic treatment is hard to quantify. How do you put a price on your child’s health and wellbeing? Their happiness? Confidence? Outlook on life? The attitude with which they approach challenges? The opportunities they attract to them through their confidence and personal presentation? The truth is, orthodontic treatment can impact all these things, and more.

It’s also very hard to put a price on things that are easier to understand. Most of us take biting and chewing for granted. We do it easily. However what if your child has difficulty with their bite and chew function? What if they have difficulty speaking? Orthodontic treatment solves many physical issues, but it also contributes to mental and emotional solutions too. Parents and patients benefit from the peace of mind and relief that comes from kids and teens who are equipped with what they need to enjoy and thrive in life.

I am not saying don’t consider the financial cost of orthodontics; I’m simply suggesting the long-term benefits and gains are weighed up against those financial costs when you have a deeper appreciation of what it means for the person most affected by the decision: your child.

Is orthodontic treatment expensive? Well, that’s subjective

Whether something is expensive or not can be very subjective. It’s very much based on the values of the individual.

Think of it this way: a person may buy an inexpensive handbag and replace it twice a year, while another person might prefer to buy a similar style of bag, but one that is handcrafted and made to last.

While the latter option might be more expensive in the short term, there’s a good chance the buyer of that bag will use it for more than one season. If it’s good quality and a classic style, they may even hang on to it for a few years, or a lifetime.

Neither person’s choice is right or wrong, but it does reflect a difference in values. When parents ask me why orthodontics is ‘so expensive’, my advice to them is to be like the buyer of the handcrafted handbag. Buy it once, keep it for life.

Flexible finance means orthodontic treatment costs are more manageable than they’ve ever been

In response to market demand and customer expectations, orthodontists have looked for ways to improve the affordability of treatment. Many orthodontic practices now offer finance arrangements that allow patients to commence treatment by paying a low deposit upfront and then paying off the balance over time, often without any interest charges.

In many ways, paying for orthodontic treatment is like making payments under any other longer term financial arrangement. Payments can be made weekly, fortnightly or monthly over a fixed period, which is usually the duration of the treatment period. Some parents have even negotiated longer payment timeframes to help them manage within their own specific financial circumstances. In some instances, this might mean payments continue beyond the treatment period. Parents who do this can live in the knowledge and peace of mind they’ve commenced the best treatment at the ideal time, rather than delaying treatment because of the cost factor.

The real cost of orthodontic treatment is not undertaking treatment at the right time. Delaying treatment is almost always a fast road to a more expensive and complex treatment. The adage ‘buy now, save later’ really does apply to orthodontic treatment.

I tell patients investing in orthodontic treatment is the dental equivalent of having regular preventive care or ‘buying long’. You make the investment in the belief the return to you will be greater in future. At our practice, we have seen this borne out thousands of times, as patients who’ve finished treatment, leave with huge, happy and healthy smiles – for life. For many, their confidence has grown over the course of treatment. Some have been completely transformed.

Final thoughts on orthodontic treatment costs

I remind parents there are two main considerations when it comes to orthodontic treatment costs.

First, the costs are always short term. Pain, discomfort and monthly payments all pass. You and your children might feel stretched at times, but it pays to remember you’re working towards your child’s beautiful, confident smile. It’s a lifelong investment.

The second consideration is: the opportunities, personal growth, confidence, health and wellbeing, and a confident smile that comes through treatment are priceless. Consider your orthodontic treatment investment decision as one of the most important decisions you make for your child, with its impact felt in the present, as well as far into the future, if not for the rest of their life.

Dr Sarah Dan is an orthodontist and advocate for early orthodontic assessment. Her approach focuses on improving orthodontic treatment outcomes for children and parents who are considering orthodontic treatment costs. Through her experience as a clinician and parent, and having adult orthodontic treatment herself, Sarah truly understands orthodontics from the patient’s perspective. She ‘gets’ it and has developed her unique 5-Step Process to help patients navigate the treatment journey to a confident, beautiful smile at any age and stage of life.