Is it illegal to hold someone “captive” in their orthodontic braces until they pay their bill?

My orthodontist will not take my braces off until we pay $8,000 and my teeth are perfect. I have not had one single thing done to my braces since last November but he won’t take them off until we pay. Is that even legal?

Asked on September 30, 2010 under Malpractice Law, Arizona


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Well, it is not illegal.  You agreed to pay the money for the orthodonticwork, correct?  Sot ehy did the work and you have not paid, correct?  Then they really may not have to do any additional work until the work that has been done is paid for.  This is a contract between the two of you and your failure to pay fr the work performed is a breach of your obligations.  They lived up to their end of the bargain by doing the work and, by your own admission, straightening your teeth until they are "perfect."  Really you are holding yourself captive.  Start making payments and show some good faith here.  Live up to your end and they will live up to the remainder of theirs.  

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