Skip to Content

What You Need To Know About Braces – The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly + Where To Get Affordable Retainers!

Have you gotten the news that your child is going to need braces?  It was the phrase we had been dreading for years as we were pretty sure our daughter would need them.  That time finally came when she was 14. So when our dentist referred us to an orthodontist to get her going on treatment, we weren’t surprised.  However, we were surprised by a few things….. which led me to writing about what you need to know about braces BEFORE you get them and sharing where you can get affordable retainers from.

What You Need To Know About Braces - The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

What You Need To Know About Braces – BEFORE You Get Them

Get At Least Two Opinions & Quotes

One thing I want to say right off the bat is don’t forget to get a second opinion.  Our dentist referred us to an orthodontist that he kind of ‘partners with’.  While the place was a gorgeous, brand new building; a few things didn’t add up to us.  They misled us on the cost of the appointment they said was necessary to be able to see what insurance would cover.  Initially, they told my husband that it was free as it had to be done for insurance reasons and there was just no way to know how much or if any of the braces would be covered without it.  BUT…… that wasn’t the truth.  {Keep reading to learn more.}

****RED FLAG:  At this appointment, they gave my daughter a folder and a plastic ‘gift card’.  They were telling her about how she can earn points towards ‘free’ gift cards and prizes by coming to her appointments, brushing, etc.  By getting the process started, aka- parents paying big bucks, she would have earned points too.  I have a HUGE problem with this protocol as the only reason she wanted to go with this orthodontist was because she wanted to earn a Barnes & Noble Gift Card.  I have no problem with them implementing a reward system once a family decides to proceed with their treatment plan.  BUT, I got the feeling they do it this way to get kids to beg to go there…kind of like the candy in the checkout lane strategy.

What You Need To Know About Braces - The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

Medically Necessary Versus Dentally Necessary

We got the results back from the orthodontist saying insurance denied us and they sent us a treatment plan that would cost about $6,200.  When my husband called the orthodontist’s office to try and understand why we were denied since our dentist told us braces are necessary for her, the lady started yelling at him saying there’s a difference between medically necessary and dentally necessary.  This was the first time we’d heard these terms.  Our dentist had just used the phrase, “braces are necessary for Hannah”.  Then, the orthodontist himself also confirmed they were necessary.  Neither added another term in that phrase.  So after being treated so rudely, we decided to not go with this office.

Calling Around

I started calling around to other orthodontists in our area.  Over the phone, I found ONE honest place who would straight out tell me insurance would 99% most likely NOT cover braces.  Every other place wanted us to come in for a consult claiming they had no idea until we come in.  Not ONLY that, this place also was able to give me a round-about estimate over the phone when I asked.  Of course, she did say that a variety of factors could affect the number but it should be in the ball park.  None of the other offices would even speculate and insisted we come in to learn anything.  The biggest kicker is that this particular place was also several hundred dollars cheaper than the first place too!


After all that hoopla, we decided to just wait a little while and think about everything.  (Well, and work on saving up some money….lol.)   It was hard to process how we were treated by the first office.  Who, by the way, continued to call and hound us about starting treatment for a couple months even though we told them we were not going with their office.

The Bill

A few months after that very first consult with office number one, we received a letter from our insurance company.  That ‘necessary’ appointment that they said was complimentary because it had to be done came out to a pretty $700+!  (Thankfully, insurance DID cover this bill as we were not expecting it.)  Now, I will say they did do an x-ray and take photos of her mouth with a DSLR camera.  BUT our problem with this is that they lied about cost as it was specifically said to be complimentary. 

So my husband once again got on the phone to inquire about the discrepancy.  The lady he spoke with this time again confirmed that insurance wouldn’t cover anything.  When he pointed out that they just covered that initial appointment with the x-ray and photos, she changed her tune a little.  Then, she decided that ‘well, I suppose we could subtract that amount from the $6,200 total’.  The whole situation just seemed so dishonest and he got the feeling that had we gone with them, they would have charged us the full amount on top of what the insurance did cover.

What You Need To Know About Braces - The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

Moving Forward

So now we’re a year later and finally decide it’s time to move forward.  We reached back out to the office we had decided on and set a consult appointment to get the process started.  On the day we went in, the orthodontist immediately said he would give us credit for the x-rays from the other office.   And because of how that first office treated us, he didn’t even charge for the additional x-ray or scan they had to do!  We loved how respectful the entire team at this particular office was the entire time we were there.  When we left, I said we would definitely move forward with them but just had to go over some things with my husband.

One Phone Call

We received one phone call about two weeks after that initial appointment.  They wanted to know if we had any questions since we hadn’t scheduled our next appointment to get started.  The lady was kind and not pushy at all.  When I explained that we were just getting the last bit of money together, she said “okay, great.  We’ll wait to hear from you.”  (We wanted to save up the entire amount as if you pay in full, there’s a 5% discount.)   And, true to her word, they waited for us to call back which took about another month.

Braces Day

The time had finally come.  We had saved and scraped up the money and the day arrived.  Hannah was quite nervous about getting braces.  While she doesn’t really care much for most candy or sticky foods anyway, she was still nervous about limitations so I tried to calm her nerves as we headed to the orthodontist.

What You Need To Know About Braces - The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

What To Expect When You Get Braces On

This process was actually pretty simple and straight-forward.  While this initial ‘installation’ appointment takes about two hours, each appointment after checking on them only took about 15 minutes.

When we arrived, they took Hannah back and completed the scans and x-ray that were still needed.  Then, they painted a cleaner on her teeth which she was then asked to go brush off.  Next, they attached the braces to her teeth.  Then they attached the wire.  The fun part came next where Hannah got to choose what color bands she wanted.  The lady was really great because after choosing blue and gold, Hannah changed her mind and wanted blue and silver.  She didn’t bat an eye and switched them out.  Hannah was also told that if she ever got tired of a color between appointments, just come in and they’d switch them for her!

Once she was done, they went over brushing techniques, ways to floss, and other care methods when braces are involved.  They gave Hannah a bag with wax, floss, travel brush, mirror, and a few other goodies to help her get started.

All in all, the process went very smoothly.  The orthodontist would come in and assist from time to time as well as make sure neither of us had any questions.  He was great at conversing with Hannah and helping her stay calm and comfortable.  

Pain And Pain Management Once Braces Are On

Based on the advice from others, I had Hannah take an Ibuprofen shortly before we arrived at the office.  While every person is different, the orthodontist said that it typically hits around bedtime that first night.  For Hannah, she started feeling sore and discomfort within about an hour of leaving the office.  So we continued with additional Ibuprofen throughout that first day.  She struggled with the discomfort and aching mouth through it all though.  This pain, although lessoning as time went on, continued for about 4 days.

To help her get through, since it was hard to eat much, she ate a soft diet.  This mainly consisted of bread, applesauce pouches, soup, pudding, jello, and watermelon.  

What You Need To Know About Braces - The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly + Where To Get Affordable Retainers!

Daily Rules About Braces

Caring for teeth while having braces on is a little different than normal.  Plus, we had to take care to not damage the braces too.  Daily rules when wearing braces include:

  • Brush after every meal.
  • Floss twice a day.
    • Utilizing floss brushes helps make this job a little easier.
    • Water flossers are also a great option.
    • Glide pro-health threader floss is also easier than regular floss.
  • Use the orthodontic wax to protect sore spots in mouth.
  • Food Limitations
    • No biting apples or hard things like that.  Cut into small pieces instead.
    • Nothing sticky.
    • No popcorn.
    • Chewing gum is a big no with braces.
  • Using Sensodyne or similar toothpaste makes a huge difference in hot/cold sensitivity when teeth are moving.
  • Follow instructions with adjustments and bands.

What You Need To Know About Braces - The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

How Long Do I Need Braces?

While Hannah’s initial prognosis was supposed to be about 18 months, we ended a little closer to 2 years. When everything shut down due to the virus, adjustment appointments were canceled. So this did prolong her treatment unfortunately. However, shortly before the 2 year mark, she was able to get them off and her smile has improved greatly!

girl with dog - What You Need To Know About Braces - The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly + Where To Get Affordable Retainers!

After Braces Care – Now What?

Once the braces are off, you may think it’s all clear sailing but wait! Did you know that retainers should continue being worn for a lifetime? At first, Hannah had to wear her retainers 24/7 unless eating. Over a month or two, the orthodontist continued to decrease wearing time but said it’s vital she continue wearing at bedtime for the rest of her life. (I can attest to the importance of this as my sister didn’t continue with her retainers after her braces came off and her teeth did shift slightly crooked again!)

What You Need To Know About Braces - The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly + Where To Get Affordable Retainers!

Where Do I Get Affordable Retainers?

While most orthodontist treatment programs will come with one set of retainers, you’re on your own for any replacements. So if you crack, break, or lose your retainers, it can cost hundreds to get a new one. That is, unless you go with Sporting Smiles!

What You Need To Know About Braces - The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly + Where To Get Affordable Retainers!

Sporting Smiles is an online dental lab who specializes in custom retainers, teeth whitening trays, sports mouth guards, and teeth grinding guards. They manufacture the same products you would get from the dentist but without the high cost!

What You Need To Know About Braces - The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly + Where To Get Affordable Retainers!

The Process Of Getting Retainers

Once you connect with Sporting Smiles, you’ll receive an impressions kit. Check out this video below for ALL the details and what you need to know or visit this step-by-step guide so you’ll know what to expect.

Sporting Smiles Retainer Kit - What You Need To Know About Braces - The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly + Where To Get Affordable Retainers!

NOTE: Make sure to watch the video and go through the guide but don’t stress if you mess up your first kit. As you can see in the photo below, Hannah struggled to get her lip over the mold at first so we ended up having to ask for some new putty. They sent it right out so we could redo the impressions correctly.

girl doing retainer impressions - Sporting Smiles Retainer Kit - What You Need To Know About Braces - The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly + Where To Get Affordable Retainers!

How Much Is Shipping With Sporting Smiles?

I love that shipping is always free! You can rest assured that you’ll receive FREE 3 WAY SHIPPING IN THE USA! The easy at-home Impression Kit and final product shipping, plus a prepaid label to return impressions to Sporting Smiles are all at no cost to their customers. Also, all products are made and shipped from Wisconsin.

retainer mold - What You Need To Know About Braces - The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly + Where To Get Affordable Retainers!

Building A Lifelong Relationship

At Sporting Smiles, they strive to have life-long relationships with all of their customers. That’s why they offer free 3D scanned Impressions that will be kept on file when you reorder $70 or more! That means your impressions will be ready whenever you need to replace your retainers. 

Retainers - What You Need To Know About Braces - The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly + Where To Get Affordable Retainers!

So whether you’re beginning your braces journey or just looking to replace your retainers at an affordable price, I hope this has helped! Feel free to drop any questions in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer.

Connect With Sporting Smiles

Website / Facebook / Instagram

monique s

Wednesday 29th of September 2021

Thanks for the link on gettting replacement retainers. Super helpful


Sunday 25th of July 2021

Thanks for all the info!

Dana Rodriguez

Thursday 22nd of July 2021

What an ordeal. Her smile certainly looks totally different!

Mia E.

Thursday 22nd of July 2021

You did an amazing job researching and detailing your journey with all of the considerations that go into getting braces. This article should be in a consumer guide issue. I am going to save this article for when my grandkids may be needing braces.