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Cost of aligner braces in Singapore: Metal or Clear Aligners?

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Truth: getting metal or invisible braces done in Singapore is not cheap at all. In fact, the cheapest braces in Singapore will cost you $2,400 or $2,500 accordingly, via teledentistry brands Zenyum and SmileDirectClub.

Also truth: putting on clear braces or metal ones can be painful. Teeth straightening and teeth alignment is a tough job. These plastic or metal mouthpieces would clamp down tightly on your teeth, willing them to move obediently as directed and — quite literally — fall perfectly in line.

If you choose invisible braces to do the job, you’d have to endure the hassle of taking them off and putting them on whenever you eat, or so much as have a sip of coffee. And pray that you have an inordinate amount of self-discipline to keep them on for at least 22 hours a day. Even if you just don’t feel like it.

If you opt for metal braces, sure, you can sit back and relax. Until one of those damn wires come loose and stab you in your inner cheek. Mouth ulcers are common. Oh, and did we mention you need to regularly extricate random food bits trapped in that network of metal wires? Interdental brushes will come to be your BFF.

So yes, the paths to straight teeth — clear aligners or metal braces, for that matter — are not exactly rainbows and confetti. But before you dismiss it as a torture too arduous to undertake, in full disclosure I was a willing patient who wore my braces dutifully for eighteen long months.

And it was one of my best decisions truly.

My teeth and I

I had a love-hate relationship with my teeth. I used to have this little baby tooth that wouldn’t fall out. For some strange unknown reason, my adult canine tooth decided not to replace the baby one and remained shyly hidden from sight.

My teeth were far from perfect, but they weren’t buck teeth either. I even secretly thought the fact that I still have a baby tooth was kinda cute. But because of this errant tooth, I had some overcrowding issues which I blatantly ignored.

Until one fine day, I bit into an almond and my baby canine tooth cracked.

Half of the tooth broke and fell out (!) I panicked, because now there was a gaping hole in my teeth and smile. My first thought: oh my god, I don’t want to be bogay!

And that’s how I got metal braces done — so that my teeth could literally pull together.

Metal braces

You have an important decision to make: the color of your metal brackets. | Photo: ach

Remember that friend in primary school who’d always sport colorful metals on her teeth all the time?

Metal braces are traditionally the most reliable way to straighten up your teeth. Individual metal brackets are “glued” to the front of each tooth and a metal archwire is threaded through these brackets.

For me, I had to opt for metal braces because I had to pluck out four teeth. I also had to surgically remove my half-broken baby tooth and that shy adult canine tooth that was completely buried deep in my gum, meaning that my dentist had to drill through bone to get it out. That baby tooth wasn’t feeling so cute anymore.

Metal braces are always the more recommended option for more complex cases (like mine), where lots of movement of teeth is required. Things like irregularities in jaw joints, severely crooked teeth, teeth that decided to take a ballerina life of its own and have rotated/spun around at 90 degrees, etc — metal braces may be a better option to correct these problems than clear aligners.

If you opt for metal braces, you will have to visit your dentist regularly to tighten and adjust those wires. Slowly but safely, your teeth will move into place — one dental visit at a time.

Pros of metal braces:

  • Most reliable, safe and quick way to straighten teeth
  • Treatment time is estimated at 12 to 24 months, depending on complexity
  • Works for complex cases as well
  • Metal braces cost $4,000 to $6,000 in Singapore, which is still fairly affordable.

Cons of metal braces:

  • It’s hideous. You’ll look like Ugly Betty for a couple of years. (Just so you know, metal braces today are already much smaller than the ones your poor classmate had to endure back in primary school days)
  • Be prepared to endure some ulcers and abrasions from the metal bits in your mouth

Ceramic braces

Ceramic braces (top row of teeth) vs metal braces (bottom row of teeth)

Another not so popular option is ceramic braces, which works the same way as traditional metal braces. But instead of metal, these are made of tooth-colored ceramic so it’s more aesthetically pleasing. A huge caveat is that these are prone to chipping and can stain easily, so you’ll have to give up on things like red wine and coffee (gasp). Ceramic braces cost $4,500 to $7,000, more expensive than metal ones due to the material cost.

Pro tip: Ask your dentist to install ceramic braces on your upper row of teeth for a nicer smile, and traditional metal ones on the lower row to save cost. If you can give up coffee, that is.

Clear aligners with dental visits: Invisalign

Severely crooked, misaligned teeth can make a person look unkempt

Although I am grateful for metal braces as it helped me fix my teeth issues, wearing metal braces was no walk in the park. I hated the metal-mouthed look and so I hardly took any photos at all in those two years. I also had ulcers all the time.

Thankfully, dentistry has come a long way and there are clear aligner options that are much less obtrusive and hardly visible. Invisalign was the first brand of clear aligners to provide this option and is able to treat a large variety of malocclusion.

Invisible aligners made of plastic

With clear aligners, no metal is involved. Instead, you’d wear a series of plastic trays that will gradually shift your teeth into place. Every few weeks, you would pop in a new, custom-made set of plastic clear aligners after your visit to your dentist.

Invisalign doesn’t irritate the insides of your mouth the way metal braces do, but there’s an added hassle of needing to take them off every time you eat or drink and make sure you pop them back in after.

Pros of Invisalign:

  • It’s invisible — need we say more? You get to flash a pretty smile that will just keep getting better.
  • Considered the gold standard of clear aligners, with tons of research and development to back up the product
  • Received raving reviews by many dentists on product quality
  • Safe and reliable way to straighten your teeth, as you see your dentist regularly in your treatment so the speed of treatment is regulated and your oral health is monitored closely
  • Treatment time is estimated at 12 to 18 months, depending on complexity
  • Works for some complex cases as well

Cons of Invisalign:

  • Expect to shell out $6,000 to $10,000 in cost for Invisalign — it is currently the most expensive teeth straightening option
  • Need self-discipline and time to take off and put on aligners whenever you eat and drink; wear for at least 22 hours a day

Tip: Try to bring your aligner case everywhere you go. Wrapping your aligners in a napkin when you’re out eating at a restaurant can run the risk of waiters clearing it away with your finished plates, or you could just forget about them completely and leave. Oh, and carry a toothbrush set too. It’s kinda gross to pop your aligners back on, food bits and all still in your teeth.

Clear aligners with teledentistry: Zenyum / SmileDirectClub / WonderSmile

In-app monitoring | Photo: Zenyum

Teledentisry in Singapore is a relatively new thing. With Covid going on and everything, you probably have heard of teleconsultations with a doctor. It’s the same idea with teledentistry — it’s seeing a dentist remotely with just a digital device and an internet connection, without stepping out of your house at all.

Before & After | Photo: SmileDirectClub

Due to the demand for cheaper clear aligners treatment, brands like local start up Zenyum, SmileDirectClub and WonderSmile have popped up. They have cut out in-person dental visits and offer in-app monitoring instead.

In doing so, they are able to offer clear aligners teeth straightening treatments at a fraction of the price of Invisalign.

Pros of Zenyum / SmileDirectClub / WonderSmile:

  • It’s invisible — need we say more? You get to flash a pretty smile that will just keep getting better.
  • It costs just $2,400 to $2,500 — cheapest way to straighten teeth
  • Time-saving since there are no regular physical dental visits
  • Treatment time is short — estimated at 4 to 7 months — probably because these are more suitable for less complex cases to begin with

Cons of Zenyum / SmileDirectClub / WonderSmile:

  • No dentist to check your actually oral health and progress of teeth movement physically
  • Need self-discipline and time to take off and put on aligners whenever you eat and drink; wear for at least 22 hours a day

Read this article to see how these clear aligner teledentistry brands stack up.

It’s no wonder teeth straightening is becoming so popular today — after all, perfectly straight teeth is the foundation of a beautiful smile. Ask anyone who has severely crooked or misaligned teeth and they would lament endlessly about how it has negatively affected their self-confidence and looks.

Whether you choose metal braces or clear aligners in your teeth straightening journey, just remember: it’s a process that requires patience — as with all the good stuff. A sparkling beautiful smile takes time and it’d be so. worth. it.

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