Braces: the surest way to a dazzling Hollywood smile. But wearing braces surely is not without pain, and it can also be daunting due to the sheer amount of commitment and time you’ll have to put in. Your whole braces treatment will take about two to three years, depending on the complexity of your case.
So, before you jump into the dentist chair to get your teeth all chained up in metal bits, we’re here to give you the dibs on what to expect and all the things your dentist wouldn’t tell you!
1. You would probably want to see an orthodontist for your braces treatment.
Orthodontists are the best professionals to treat misalignments of your teeth and they have three additional years of training with a focus in correcting misaligned teeth, occlusion (contact between your upper and lower rows of teeth), jaw alignment etc. Since you’re looking to invest in a good smile or correct problems such as bite, you might as well see a specialist that would potentially help you get there faster and more smoothly!
2. Choose a private specialist dentist that’s either near your workplace or home. Given how often you need to return to your orthodontist, you might appreciate this more than you think.
For braces treatment, convenience is key because you will have to keep returning to your dental clinic regularly – sometimes monthly – so find a place that’s easy to keep this commitment. This will be ongoing for typically 2 to 3 years. As time go by, the appointments usually become shorter and only involve minor adjustments in the position of the braces, tightening or a quick check, so it really helps a lot if you could just walk over (from work or home) for that brief appointment.
Missing appointments would mean delaying your braces treatment, which in turn means your teeth will have to be in these unsightly metal chains longer than they need to!
3. But what about the public (government) route? It’s cheaper… right?
If you take the public (government) route i.e. National Dental Centre Singapore etc, do factor in the wait time – it could take months and even up to two years to get an appointment with a specialist for your braces treatment. We also do think the public medical sector tend to (rightfully) prioritize medical cases over cosmetic cases like braces.
You may also note that the braces price difference between the public and private sector is also meagre. According to the Ministry of Health (MOH), the cost of braces ranges from $3,000 to $5,000 at public institutions as compared to $2,000 to $12,000 at private institutions. This is because there’re no subsidies available for braces as it is considered as a cosmetic procedure by MOH. Sorry guys, no discounts for vanity!
4. Can Medisave be used for braces treatment?
No. Again, braces treatment is deemed as a cosmetic procedure by MOH and not a necessary surgical procedure.
5. Try not to gag as your orthodontist takes a mold of your teeth.
For braces or other procedures like dentures and crowns, taking impressions is a necessary procedure. A tray of this gag-inducing substance will be pressed hard onto your teeth so that it leaves a good imprint. The substance will then solidify to form a replica of your teeth for the orthodontist to make your braces. Be warned: it’s not the most pleasant thing and some patients can suffer from gag reflex. It’s your body’s response to too large non-food objects entering the mouth or throat. Just… try to hold your breath and pray it’s over in a heartbeat!
6. You probably need to extract teeth (yes, multiple teeth).
Depending on how crowded your teeth are, you will need to extract good teeth to create the space required for your teeth to move and straighten. Sometimes, your teeth may also be out of place and too far out of the dental arch or protruding too much. Furthermore, extractions usually come in pairs for symmetry.
So just a heads up, it is quite common to have to extract four teeth – two on the top row, and two on the bottom row – before your braces treatment.
It’s going to be a bloody affair, but granted it’s pretty quick and it’ll be over before you know it. Just remember to bite down hard on the gauze to try to stop the bleeding ASAP!
7. After the braces is fitted, make sure you move your mouth around to check if there are any stray metal wire bits that are not cut properly.
Double check if your dentist did a clean job of cutting those damn metal wires! If there’re any stray metal wire sticking out, be sure to point it out immediately so he or she can adjust it and save you from a whole lot of suffering later. If not, these metal wires are going to be stabbing at your inner cheeks, causing really painful mouth ulcers!
8. You need to get your hands on these little interdental brushes.
With these metal braces, the nooks and crannies in your mouth have just multiplied and you’ll need these mini interdental brushes to extricate random food bits stuck within the wires. So be sure to stock up on these interdental brushes and carry some with you all the time!
9. It’s not over yet. After braces, you still gotta wear plastic retainers.
The feeling of removing your braces at long last is sweet – your teeth is so smooth you feel like you could run your tongue over them all day. At this point, gone are the hideous metal bits from your mouth and you’d probably feel like an ugly duckling transforming into a swan.
But alas, the happiness is somewhat short-lived because it’s not over yet. You will still need to wear retainers on a daily basis for a few months to ensure your teeth holds its place. You’ll only get to remove your retainers during meal times. It’s definitely a huge step up from the metal ones you lived with for so long though.
10. Speaking with retainers can be… challenging.
You also need to get used to speaking with retainers in your mouth. It’s kind of difficult to maintain good pronunciation with these plastic things wrapped around your teeth, but try it for yourself for a few months and you’ll get the hang of things!
Cynthia has a soft spot for traditions and culture. For her, a good ol’ cup of kopi and kaya toast hits the spot better than any fancy café fare—with the sole exception of pancakes.