Orthodontic treatment

The number of children (and adults) having orthodontic treatment is on the rise in many countries, including Belgium, and it’s certainly possible that your child may need treatment at some point.

This page aims to answer some of the general questions you may have.

Note that the information below deals with orthodontic treatment for those in the Belgian health system. If you have health coverage via a European institution, Eurocontrol, a European school, the UN, NATO or SHAPE, ask your HR department for details of coverage for orthodontic treatment.

Photo by Cristina Pop on Unsplash

How common is it for children in Belgium to have orthodontic treatment?

Recent figures show that:

  • At 10 years of age, around 20% of children have already begun some kind of ‘early’ orthodontic treatment. This is at least partially reimbursed by the mutuelle provided that the treatment begins before the child’s 9th birthday.
  • Between 13 and 18 years of age, around 50% of children will be having regular orthodontic treatment, or it will at least have been considered.

How much does it cost?

The cost depends largely on the type, duration and complexity of the intervention needed, and also, to a lesser extent on the orthodontist chosen.

The below figures are intended to give an idea of the price ranges:

  • Removable tooth aligners: €300 – €500 for the aligner, with monthly checks at around €30 to €40 each.
  • Traditional fixed braces, with metal brackets: a two-year treatment would cost around €3,000 on average, not including initial examinations, x-rayes and additional elements like screws or springs.
  • Lingual braces (i.e. fixed to the back of the teeth): for lingual braces on the upper teeth and traditional fixed braces on the bottom teeth, you should expect to pay around €5,000. Lingual braces on both upper and lower teeth would cost over €6,000.

Source: https://www.libelle.be/slim-bekeken/alles-wat-je-moet-weten-over-het-dragen-van-een-beugel/

Very few orthodontists apply standard fees (i.e. they are not ‘conventionné’ / ‘geconventioneerd’), which basically means that they determine their own fees.

The cost for the same treatment can therefore vary slightly between orthodontists.

Can I ask for a second opinion?

One of the advantages of the Belgian health system is that you are free to change practitioner, and ask for a second (or third) opinion.

Make sure to ask all the questions you have, e.g. about the need to intervene, the urgency, the intended outcome, alternatives etc.

How much does the mutuelle reimburse?

Basic coverage by the mutuelle covers two kinds of orthodontic treatment:

  • ‘Early’ orthodontic treatment (‘traitement orthodontique de première intention (TOPI)’/’vroege orthodontische behandeling’) provided that the official request for treatment is submitted before the child’s 9th birthday. This is to ensure early correction of any issues with development of the jaw, the position of the incisors or a lack of room for adult teeth.
  • ‘Classic’ orthodontic treatment, provided that the official request for treatment is submitted before the child’s 15th birthday. Treatment can go on until the individual’s 22nd birthday.

This coverage provides a partial reimbursement of around €800.

Depending on your mutuelle, you may be entitled to other small reimbursements. However, to avoid high out-of-pocket expenses, it is worth taking out additional dental/orthodontic insurance.

Can I take out additional insurance to cover orthodontic treatment?

Yes, many mutuelles and insurance providers offer specific dental insurance policies that cover 60-80% of the out-of-pocket amount.

But make sure you read the small print, as these policies often have long waiting periods, and maximum amounts per year and/or per contract.