Braces are a topic that comes up on all of the traveling family-related facebook groups.
They are one of the most difficult issues to plan for, but traveling families are tenacious. They find a way.
When we started our travels in the fall of 2010, our kids were 12 and 13. Both had braces. We returned to Michigan for an 8 week tune-up. During our Christmas break in Michigan we went for another adjustment.
And then we started heading west.
We were no longer a day’s drive away.
We contacted our orthodontist to see if he knew any doctors in Arizona who handled the Damon braces system. He gave us a recommendation and faxed my children’s files to the office. The visit went well.
And the orthodontist considered it a courtesy visit. No charge!
One of the kids popped a bracket in another state and the other had a wire poking into her gums. We found local orthos for those issues.
The$e were not con$idered courte$y vi$it$.
After this we let a few months go by before we completed our 1 year trip and returned to Michigan to prepare the house for sale.
While there, Harrison was able to have his braces removed only a couple of months behind schedule. Miranda had her braces removed several months later due to some unexpected issues with one of her teeth.
The Ortho Network
Mike always said there should be a Midas Network for braces. Full service for your mouth just like Midas offers full service for your auto.
That network isn’t quite in place, but there are options for traveling families:
- Myobrace The Myobrace System is a no-braces approach to straightening your teeth and jaws. Myobrace uses of a series of removable dental appliances that are worn for 1-2 hours each day and overnight while sleeping. Myobrace practitioners are in over 100 countries.
- Smile Direct Club Schedule an appointment with a provider for a 3D scan or complete the “at-home” evaluation kit to get started. A treatment plan will be put together and the invisible aligners will be shipped monthly. Smile Direct Club is US-only.
- Smile Doctors The Smile Doctors offer braces same day as your evaluation. They also offer Invisalign. Providers are located in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and Texas.
Four Bracing Stories
Visit a stationary US orthodontist
Jema shares her family’s successful braces journey and gives 10 tips for finding an orthodontist as a traveling family.
Cross the border
Marissa Bagasaos needed braces. Her family decided to visit an orthodontist in Mexico for a fraction of the US cost. Watch their experience.
Accomplish the 2 countries, 3 orthodontists, second language shuffle
After consulting with a US orthodontist and seeing the expected price-tag, The Let’s Just Travel family decided to go to Panama for Haley’s braces. After several months in Panama the family moved on to Mexico and were able to source an orthdontist to continue and complete her care.
Make arrangements in multiple states
Jennifer Miles shared her family’s braces story with our Facebook Ditching Suburbia Group. With permission I’m including it here as another example of how a family makes braces fit their traveling lifestyle.
We’ve had two in braces the last year and one of them will continue for the next 18 months or so. There are several things you can do:
- Expect to pay additional out of pocket expenses.
If you aren’t able to get back to your ortho every 6-8 or 8-12 weeks (depending on treatment plan), visiting another ortho for treatment is possible and we’ve paid on average $150 for the one off visit. It’s still cheaper than flying or driving back and gives us the freedom to go wherever.
- Be very up front with your ortho on your plan to travel.
Ask what the treatment plan is, how frequently they must personally see you at a minimum, and if they are willing to work with an ortho in other areas as you travel on a referral basis. (As an example, our ortho is in Tucson, AZ. We wintered in Florida. We found an ortho in FL and our ortho called them to give them the plan for the next 2 appts and we paid @100 for each visit. That bought us 5 months to then go back to our home ortho for the next steps.)
- Know emergency visits happen.
If you have any appliances besides basic braces, know what they are by medical name and verify any ortho you go to knows how to implement them in a treatment plan. Our daughter has a Mara device and we had 4 emergency visits due to wires coming undone over 9 months. 2 of the 4 orthos we visited had never even seen a Mara in real life and had no idea what to do. Their front office staff scheduled us anyway and they were total waste of money and time. Had to find another ortho anyway. We’ve just explained we are on vacation and a wire came out. We just need a simple “fix” and will pay cash. We haven’t had any problems finding someone to handle those.
- If your ortho won’t work with other orthos as you travel, plan out your appointments as far out as possible.
Choose your your biggest appt window (8 weeks vs 6, etc). Then plan your route to where you can drive back or fly back as far out as you can. We did several 1400 mile detours last year when she was in the middle of her Mara treatment and it just was what it was. I think if we could do it over again we’d do it near an airport hub in Vegas, Phoenix, or Dallas since we have been staying more west the last 2 years.
- Consider a blended approach.
If you can switch to Invisalign part way through treatment, the added cost may outweigh the cost of trips home and the flexibility of getting months of trays at a time. We went this route with our son and he was so much easier. Phase two of our daughters braces will potentially be split into a period of regular braces followed by a shorter Invisalign period.
What’s Your Story?
Have you answered the “what about braces?” situation in your family? Please share your story in the comments.