No one loves climbing into a dentist’s chair. However, just like going to work and paying your bills, it is a crucial activity that every adult has to do. If your parents didn’t shell out for braces when you were a teenager, you might find yourself saddled with crooked teeth as a bill-paying grown-up.

While some models make their fortune trading up a unique gap in their front teeth, most of us dream of having a movie star smile. Beyond the aesthetic concerns, crooked teeth could also make it hard for you to properly clean individual sections of your teeth, leading to a higher incidence of gum disease and tooth decay. If you’re considering tooth alignment, here are five steps you should take.

Shop Around

You may not realize it, but federal law forbids the American Dental Association (ADA) from setting standard fees for dentists for different services or procedures. So, if you plan to have work done, it is worth taking some time to compare dental costs between various providers in your area. Some people decide to take a “dental holiday,” where they travel to a tropical oasis like Thailand, Bali, or Malaysia to have their teeth fixed at a fraction of local treatment costs. With COVID-19 vaccines rolling out around the world, this kind of trip may soon return to the realm of possibilities.  

Know Your Options

The options available for teeth straightening have come a long way since Christophe-Francois Delabarre invented metal braces in 1819. Indeed, we’ve even surpassed the 1970s version that inspired the epithet of “metal mouth.” Nowadays, you can select from plastic mouthguard style aligners, ceramic braces, lingual braces that sit on the inside of your teeth, or the metal style you might remember from high school.  

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Weigh up the Pros and Cons

Depending on the procedure you select, tooth alignment costs can range from around $3,500 to approximately $10,000. Metal braces are the most affordable option but also the most visible. Not only that, but each option has different pros and cons when it comes to the impact on your gums and enamel. Because most teeth straightening options affect your ability to brush your teeth and gums, they can cause minor gum recession, enamel decay, discoloration.

Consider Dental Insurance

Dental insurance may be a good option for you, especially if you can purchase a reduced-cost plan through your employer. Before signing up for dental insurance, make sure that you check the monthly and annual premiums, whether the insurance covers the procedures you are likely to need, any waiting periods, and the out-of-pocket costs. There is no single answer to whether dental insurance is worthwhile – it depends entirely on your unique situation.

Start a Savings Plan

Whether you have dental insurance or not, you will likely need to pay some out of pocket expenses. Why not start preparing now by setting aside a certain amount of money from each pay cheque towards dental costs? Your bank may offer savings accounts with bonus interest, in which case you could create one purely for dental and medical savings. Saving for medical expenses is a great idea, even when you don’t have any health issues now. Doing so will ensure you are prepared for anything that may come up in the future.

Remember, like many things in life, troublesome teeth only worsen if you bury your head in the sand and ignore them. Regular dental checkups and professional teeth cleaning, plus tooth alignment if required, can reduce your dental issues and costs in the long run.

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