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Frequently asked questions

  1. What purpose do braces serve?
  2. What are the latest developments and techniques in orthodontics that are being practiced here in Singapore? Can you also list the types of braces available and their costs?
  3. There seems to be a trend of coloured braces among the younger generation? Why? Are they being used as an accessory?
  4. There seems to be an increase in the number of older women wearing braces these days. Why?
  5. Do you agree that today's emphasis on appearances has encouraged more people to seek out help to correct dental irregularities?
  6. What does one experience when wearing braces? (physical discomfort? Feelings of self-consciousness?) What types of precautions must be taken?
  7. Can you please list out ten things that people should consider before deciding on wearing braces?

What purpose do braces serve?

Braces are fixed or removable dental appliances used in orthodontic treatment. Orthodontic treatment serves 4 primary objectives:

  1. improves aesthetics – a pleasant smile can create or be the focus of an attractive face and conversely, a ugly set of teeth can detract from the attractiveness of a beautiful face. Having a healthy and attractive set of teeth can also boost a person’s self-esteem and confidence.
  2. improves oral functions such as speech and chewing – although most patients would have adjusted to these problems, those with severe conditions can notice a significant improvement after correction.
  3. facilitates the maintenance of oral health – well-aligned teeth are easier to clean and thus patients are less likely to develop caries and gum diseases. A proper bite is also less likely to cause wearing down of teeth over time.
  4. Facilitate other dental treatments such as bleaching, veneers, crowns and bridges and implants by aligning, up-righting teeth and closing or re-distributing spaces.

What are the latest developments and techniques in orthodontics that are being practiced here in Singapore? Can you also list the types of braces available and their costs?

Most comprehensive orthodontic treatments are now done with fixed braces as they allow for better control of the desired tooth movements. Fixed braces can be divided into labial (bonded on the outer surface of the teeth) braces and lingual (bonded on the inner surface of teeth) braces.

There are 2 types of labial braces i.e. the metal braces and the ceramic braces. Metal braces are usually used in teenage patients. Ceramic braces are preferred by adult patients as the ceramic brackets used make the braces much less conspicuous.

Orthodontic treatment with lingual braces is relatively new (being only available for about ten years in Singapore and practiced by only a few dental practitioners). Because the braces are bonded on the inner surfaces of the teeth, they are also called invisible braces. Please visit http://www.invisiblebraces.com.sg for more information.

A new treatment appliance called the Invisalign system (developed in the United States) is not available in Singapore yet because of the licensing requirements by the company that developed the system. Clear plastic trays called aligners are fabricated with the aid of computer-assisted stimulation. Because the treatment technique is still new, it is currently used mostly for less severe conditions. However, the cost, if the treatment does become available in Singapore, will most likely be in the same region as the lingual braces.

Average cost of treatment ranges from SGD 4200 to SGD 5000 for metal braces, SGD 5000 to SGD 6000 for ceramic braces and SGD 8000 to SGD 12000 for lingual braces. Treatment fees are usually paid in monthly installments over the course of treatment of 1 to 2 years.

There seems to be a trend of coloured braces among the younger generation? Why? Are they being used as an accessory?

The colours in the so-called coloured braces come from the coloured rubber rings (or modules as we called it) that tie the wires onto the brackets. The rubber rings are changed every visit and patients have a range of colours to choose from. The trend towards coloured braces among the younger generation is because having braces is no longer a stigma. It has become a rite of passage for teenagers and they wear the braces with colours to express their personality, moods and affiliation. So we have Manchester United fans asking for red, artistic people asking for black. Just before Christmas, we have to stock up on our red and green coloured rubber rings.

There seems to be an increase in the number of older women wearing braces these days. Why?

This is because there is an increase in the social acceptance of adults having orthodontic treatment. In fact, there is a corresponding increase in the number of adult males seeking treatment too. Women are also more independent both financially and in their choice of actions. Some of them have missed out on the opportunities for treatment when they were younger. With better education and access to information, more adults are aware of the treatment options available and the benefits of treatment. Adults are also more inclined to seek treatment as the braces are more aesthetic now. Treatment also need not be protracted and painful with the use of newer treatment materials. In fact, quite a number of mothers have decided on treatment after their kids have started treatment.

Do you agree that today's emphasis on appearances has encouraged more people to seek out help to correct dental irregularities?

To a certain extent, yes. However, seeking orthodontic treatment should not be seen as succumbing to vanity. Dental aesthetics and health is part of our physical well-being and the increase in the number of people seeking treatment is related to the general increase in the awareness of physical well-being. We have more people going to the gym for workouts and to the hair salons for a pampering of the crowning glory too. Having an ugly and diseased set of teeth is akin to having permanently unkempt hair.

What does one experience when wearing braces? (physical discomfort? Feelings of self-consciousness?) What types of precautions must be taken?

Naturally, there will be a short period of adaptation and adjustment after the braces are placed on. Most patients adapt to the braces as soon as a few days to a week. There will also be a period of discomfort of 2 to 3 days after each monthly visit when the braces are activated. The levels of discomfort vary from patient to patient with most patients reporting a dull ache during the chewing of food. Some patients may also have soreness or ulcers in the mouth especially in the beginning of treatment.

The feeling of self-consciousness is usually self-generated and most patients become more comfortable with their braces after they realise that most of their friends do not mind or notice them wearing braces.

The most important precaution would be to maintain an excellent standard of oral hygiene. Poor oral hygiene will lead to caries around the braces and gum diseases. Patients must also avoid heavy chewing and hard food to prevent breakages of the braces.

Can you please list out ten things that people should consider before deciding on wearing braces?

  1. Firstly, the patient must be keen and internally motivated to have treatment. The reason for seeking treatment should not be due to pressure from other people. An unmotivated patient usually becomes an uncooperative patient.
  2. Seek professional opinion and advice from an orthodontist to remove any unfounded fears, perceptions and hearsays.
  3. Be prepared to commit to an treatment duration of 1 to 2 years. Although some cases may be completed within a year, they are usually very mild cases or that the treatment has only a limited objective. Appointments are usually given at monthly intervals. Irregular attendance will affect the success of treatment. On the other hand, too short an interval (1 to 2 weeks) between appointments will result in tissue damage, as there is insufficient time for tissue repair to occur.
  4. Be prepared to wear retainers after the active treatment with braces. After the braces are removed, relapse will occur if the retainers are not worn as prescribed. The retention period is usually divided into a initial period of 3 to 6 months of full-time retainer wear and followed by a period of 6 to 9 months of night-time retainer wear. For some cases, long-term occasional nighttime may be recommended.
  5. Be prepared to have a meticulous oral hygiene regime when wearing braces. Otherwise, the benefits of treatment may be partially negated by caries and gum diseases.
  6. Be prepared for initial minor inconveniences such as discomfort especially during chewing, soreness and ulcers of the lips and cheeks. With perseverance and motivation, most patients will adapt well within a week or so. Some patient may also have their speech affected for a few days.
  7. Dietary habits must be adjusted. Heavy chewing and hard food must be avoided, at least in the beginning of treatment.
  8. For cases with mild to moderate crowding, the treatment may be done without requiring extraction of teeth. However, in cases with severe crowding, extraction of some permanent teeth may be needed to create the space needed for alignment.
  9. There are very few medical conditions that will contraindicate orthodontic treatment for the patient. However, it is better to inform your orthodontist if you have any medical conditions.
  10. Orthodontic treatment is usually affordable as the payment is divided into monthly installments to be paid over the course of treatment of 1 to 2 years. Decide on the type of braces that will fit your budget.

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