Truth: braces is a HUGE commitment and getting your braces done in Singapore is not cheap at all. Also truth: being metal-mouthed can be painful and looking like Ugly Betty for a few years just adds to that pain.
So yes, getting braces done is not exactly rainbows and confetti. But so few are born with a set of perfect pearly whites and sometimes, a good smile can make all the difference.
“Why do people still do braces despite the pain and hassle?”
There’s a plethora of reasons why people choose to dedicate two to three years of their life being metal-mouthed – and it’s usually either for aesthetic or medical reasons.
Ask someone who has severely crooked or misaligned teeth and they would tell you how it has affected their confidence and caused them to be self-conscious and embarrassed to open their mouth their whole lives. Indeed, crooked teeth can make a person appear messy and unkempt.
Other medical issues that braces can help with include:
- Pain/difficulty chewing due to misaligned, crooked teeth
- Bite issues (i.e. overbite, underbite)
- Irregularities in jaw positions and jaw joints
- Speech related problems due to misaligned teeth
- Dental hygiene issues, as it’s difficult to clean the nooks and crannies of severely crooked teeth
“What kind of braces are available in Singapore?”
Remember that friend in primary school who’d always sport multi-colored metal braces that actually changes in color all the time? Although metal braces are still the trustiest way to straighten up your teeth, thankfully we have come a long way from then and there are options today that are less obtrusive and (more importantly!) less visible.
1. Metal Braces
This is traditionally the most reliable way to straighten up ‘em teeth. Individual metal brackets are “glued” to the front of each tooth and a metal archwire is threaded through these brackets. You will have to visit your dentist regularly so that he or she can tighten and adjust the wires, thus moving your teeth gradually. It’s a long, slow process indeed.
Pros: Like we said, it’s the trustiest and gets the job done in the quickest possible time (but it will still take years, mind you). For complex cases, metal braces are always recommended. They’re also the cheapest braces option you’ve got ($3,000 to $6,000). And just so you know, metal braces today are now much smaller than the ones your poor classmate had to endure back in your primary school days.
Cons: The metal bits are still too conspicuous and hideous for our liking. You’d really have to accept being Ugly Betty for a couple of years. Got an important sales pitch you have to turn on charm and flash a few megawatt smiles? Tough luck doing that with those metal bits in your mouth. It can also be downright uncomfortable, especially when metal wires come loose and stab at your inner cheeks. Be prepared to endure some ulcers and abrasions.
2. Lingual braces
These are also metal braces, attached not to the front but to the back of your teeth. So essentially, you don’t look like you’re wearing braces at all. Isn’t that brilliant! But beware: they are super expensive and it can give you tongue ulcers (eeks).
Pro: Ugly metal bits are out of sight so you can stay pretty
Cons: It’s the most expensive option ($8,000 to $12,000!) because each bracket needs to be custom made for your teeth and it’s harder and more complicated for the dentist to work with overall. It’s also difficult to clean since the metal brackets are on the insides of your teeth and they tend to be quite uncomfortable as it can get in the way of your tongue. Expect to get tongue ulcers and abrasions, especially at the start. You may also sound funny with them on so there will certainly be some getting used to! Due to the many challenges it poses, lingual braces are by far the least popular option in Singapore.
3. Ceramic braces
Ceramic braces work in the exact same way as your traditional metal braces. Instead of the brackets at the front of your teeth being made of metal, they are made of tooth-colored ceramic instead. So you can imagine that these are much less noticeable and a much more aesthetically pleasing option.
Pros: Much more elegant as compared to its metal counterpart.
Cons: A caveat is that these can stain easily, so you may have to give up on food that stains the teeth like red wine and coffee (gasp). It’s also pricier ($4,500 to $6,000) as the material cost is higher and it requires more maintenance than metal braces. Ceramic is also more fragile and less hardy than metal, which means it is prone to breaking or chipping so you would also have to take extra care.
Pro tip: Ask your dentist to install ceramic braces on your upper row of teeth and traditional metal ones on the lower teeth to save cost (pictured below). If you can give up coffee, that is.
4. Clear aligners such as Invisalign
Despite it being a significantly more expensive option ($4,800 to $12,000) than metal braces, clear aligners such as Invisalign are getting more popular due to its many benefits. There are many types of clear aligner brands available such as Zenyum, MBrace, eCligner etc, but Invisalign is by far considered the industry best as it is able to treat all types of malocclusion, including complex cases. Invisalign also uses tiny attachments on the teeth which allows the dentist to move teeth effectively. It is thus also the most expensive.
Pros: Transparent and “invisible” so you can still flash a pretty smile without the whole world knowing you’re currently straightening your teeth. Contrast this to living with metal braces in your mouth for two to three years – which can be quite a long time. It’s also super gentle and comfortable – no sharp metal bits rubbing and poking at your inner cheeks, so no ulcers and abrasions. Easy to maintain oral hygiene as Invisalign is removable, so you can simply take them out when you eat, brush or floss.
Cons: The only downside is its price. The average price of Invisalign at a dental clinic is a whopping $8,000. An Invisalign treatment typically comprises a total of 18 to 30 sets of aligners, each set custom made to gradually move your teeth at each step of your teeth straightening process. Another thing to note is that Invisalign is not suitable for very complex cases, i.e. very crooked and misaligned teeth that needs a lot of movement.
Pro tip: Always keep your previous set of aligners – do NOT throw them away. In case you lose your current set, you can always fall back on the previous set of aligners so that your teeth doesn’t shift around too much.
Most common ways of losing your aligners: wrapping your aligners in a napkin in the restaurant, only to forget and let the staff clear the table and sweep your precious aligners into the trash; leaving it behind in the hotel during your holiday; etc etc. Always keep your aligners in a retainer case whenever you remove them.
Whichever option you choose, just remember: doing braces is a long process that would take a few years, so brace yourself – a beautiful smile takes time.
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.