Today, there are less invasive and less visible ways to perfect your smile—without traditional braces, and sometimes without going to the orthodontist every month. For these reasons, clear aligners are an increasingly popular option for teeth straightening. And the good news is, they may be covered by dental insurance (depending on your plan), making this option more accessible and affordable.
Here, we've broken down what you need to know when considering clear aligners, as well as what's needed for insurance coverage.
How clear aligners work
With aligners, patients use clear, plastic trays that are custom fit for their mouth and alignment needs. Trays are updated periodically to help the teeth shift into new positions, and the process generally takes an adult 18 months to 3 years. The trays are removed when eating and can also be removed for special occasions.
Consumers can choose between getting aligners fitted and monitored at a local orthodontist's office or doing so at home with virtual monitoring if using a direct to patient vendor.
Why clear aligners are appealing
Traditionally, clear aligners have had the greatest appeal with adults who did not get their teeth straightened as children and would like to do so discreetly. About 25% of those getting orthodontic treatment today are adults, and those numbers are increasing. Recent improvements in clear aligners have made them increasingly popular with young adults, too. Due to better technology and familiarity among dental professionals, the aligners are increasingly prescribed for minors.
While many people want their teeth straightened for cosmetic purposes, misaligned teeth can also affect a person's health. Misaligned teeth can increase the likelihood of tooth decay or periodontal disease, and can negatively impact their ability to chew thoroughly, potentially causing problems with digestion.
Evaluating options for clear aligners
Patients who choose clear aligners have options for what that course of treatment looks like. If aligners are obtained through a dentist's or orthodontist's office, they are fitted and monitored by the oral health specialist at regular intervals and in-person.
Clear aligners are typically used for patients who have mild or moderately crowded teeth, or have minor spacing issues. Patients who have severe crowding or spacing problems—or severe underbites, overbites, or crossbites—may require more complex treatment, such as traditional braces.
Dental insurance can help offset the cost of orthodontic treatment. Similar to traditional braces, clear aligners can be costly. In addition to covering preventive dental exams, cavity fillings, X-rays and more, some dental plans may also include coverage for clear aligners and traditional braces.1
MetLife's dental plans may cover clear aligners, provided a licensed dentist is providing the care or monitoring the care. To understand if your plan covers the treatment, it’s best to ask your dentist to submit a pre-treatment estimate. Important: If a claim is submitted without the licensed dentist information the orthodontic services will not be benefitted.
So, the great news is, sometimes dental insurance can put straighter teeth within reach. But even more importantly, with dental coverage, you and your family will also get regular preventive care that will improve your oral health. Contact your dental insurance provider to see if clear aligners are covered under your plan.