A confession: I used to wear braces to straighten my teeth.
But if I flash a quick smile at you right now, you wouldn’t know. The top set of my teeth has an overbite, and I’ve two crooked teeth at the bottom — dead-centre and at the front that have made me reluctant to smile widely.
And I only have my lack of self-discipline to blame for the mess in my mouth, because I skipped wearing my retainers in the past. Granted I was only in secondary school at that time — carefree and none the wiser. And now, working-adult me is resigned to having crooked teeth for the rest of my life.
That is, until I was presented with Zenyum.
What is Zenyum?
Zenyum is a brand of invisible braces from Singapore that are 3D-printed to fit your mouth, which will slowly nudge your teeth through pressure to their desired positions.
They’ve got two types of clear aligner treatments, depending on the severity of your crooked teeth — ZenyumClear and ZenyumClear Plus.
ZenyumClear focuses on simple movements of the frontal eight top and bottom teeth, which are perfect if you just need minor adjustments. This was the one that I undertook.
More major teeth straightening works call for ZenyumClear Plus, which caters for bigger movements of the teeth, including the back teeth. It can also fix a wider range of issues — from large overjets and severe crowding, to large spaces and tipped teeth.
You’d go through a set of 10 to 45 sets of clear aligners over the course of 3 to 15 months, each with incremental changes in the mould, depending on the complexity of your teeth situation. You’d have to religiously wear them for at least 20 hours a day in order to shift your teeth.
What’s the difference between Zenyum and Invisalign?
If you’ve been researching invisible braces in the Singapore, you’re bound to come across this name: Invisalign.
While Invisalign is one of the long-established players in the clear aligners market, it comes at a hefty price. You might ask, how much does Invisalign cost in Singapore? Well, the Invisalign clear aligner treatment can set your wallet back by up to $8,000. The price tag comes with regular dental consults and checks, and of course, the brand name.
Conversely, Zenyum aligners costs $2,400 for the ZenyumClear treatment and $3,300 to $3,900 for the ZenyumClear Plus treatment. This excludes dentist consultation fees* though — but you pay directly to the clinic. Regular dental visits are cut down and replaced by in-app monitoring to keep costs more palatable.
The cost of clear aligners treatment with Zenyum is a lot more affordable than the cost of Invisalign — a boon especially if you have once forked out crazy amounts of money for metal braces (like me).
*Note: Dentist consultation fees cost $170 for each visit and retainers would cost you an additional $300.
Why is Zenyum so cheap?
For example, some teledentistry brands like Become and Smile Direct Club do not include dental X-rays and may not even require a dentist to check your teeth physically before you start. Dental X-rays are important to spot decays, gum diseases or jaw structure issues as bad oral health can affect the teeth straightening process.
Become and SmileDirectClub would, however, require you to come down to take a 3D scan of your teeth before you start. Their dentist partners would determine if you are a suitable candidate based on the 3D scan of your teeth itself.
For Zenyum, costs are kept low by lessening dental visits and it also saves on shipping fees being a local brand. They are however quite particular about dental X-ray checks to ensure that you start off on the right foot.
At $2,400 for their ZenyumClear treatment, Zenyum is in fact not the cheapest clear aligner brand in Singapore. Become is the cheapest invisible braces in Singapore at $2,097.
Who is Zenyum suited for?
ZenyumClear is suited for more straightforward and minor cases. Generally, that means teeth with no severe overcrowding, rotation, gaps or deep overbites. For more complex cases, there’s the new addition of ZenyumClear Plus, which is able to fix a wider range of teeth issues like overcrowding and large spaces between teeth.
My Zenyum review: before and after
At first, I wasn’t sure if my teeth fit the bill. After all, I did have a slight overbite and my jaws were kinda small for my teeth to move around — hence the multiple extractions I had in the metal braces days.
Thankfully, Zenyum had a free pre-treatment review to allay my concerns.
First, I did a quick online assessment that consists of a few simple questions. I also had to submit photos of my teeth from multiple angles. These would be sent to a panel of dental experts for the first round of pre-assessment.
A while later, I got the notification that I made it to the second round! That meant going down for an appointment at a partner dental clinic for a consultation and review from a certified dentist.
When I went down to the clinic, they did a 3D and X-ray scan, as well as a physical assessment. To my relief, I was informed by the dentist that I was suitable.
He did inform me, though, that there might be IPR done in the plan to get my teeth in place. What’s that acronym? I asked, slightly alarmed.
Turns out it stands for Interproximal Reduction, a process to create more space in the mouth for teeth movement by shaving the sides of teeth or teeth enamel. To be honest, it sounded a little scary, but the dentist reassured me it would be completely painless (true).
Moreover, IPR shaves off at maximum 0.3 millimetres of tooth enamel, so you can think of it as something just like tooth polishing, or filing your nails.
Besides the on-site check, I was also reassured that my scans would be submitted to yet another panel of orthodontists and experts at Zenyum. Sort of like a final QC process that made me feel that I was in good hands.
Once approved, they even formulated a whole 3D simulation plan so I could visualise week-by-week how it would go!
Once I was satisfied with the proposed treatment plan of 20 aligner sets – each to be worn around 10-14 days – it was time *drum roll* for the production.
After around three weeks, my aligners were ready. I was brimming with excitement when I swung by the dental clinic again. This time, they would be doing a fitting to see if the 3D-printed aligners did match my teeth.
My first set of upper aligners fitted well, but it was more of a struggle to wear and remove the lower ones due to my crooked bottom teeth. My dentist patiently showed me how to remove the sets by pushing the edges of the plastic and soon, I got the hang of it.
Tip: You can buy a plastic ‘hook’ remover online to help you remove the aligners if you don’t want to risk damaging your nails.
Wearing Zenyum aligners daily
Once I was given the whole box of 20 aligners, I was ready to start my official Zenyum journey.
Each aligner is labelled with the set number, and I was supposed to wear them for at least 20 hours a day. Quick math, that leaves..3+ hours to eat food and drink? So this is what happens at every meal:
- Remove aligners. At home or at a public toilet, usually.
- Pause the app’s tracker.
- Eat or drink. Preferably, under an hour so as not to bust the limit.
- Brush and floss.
- Wear back the aligners.
- Resume the app’s tracker.
Considering the fact that you are not supposed to drink any coloured beverages (goodbye coffee and tea) when wearing the aligners, I had to bid goodbye to leisurely drinking sweet drinks like BBT as I went about my day. Unless I chugged them down, of course, but where’s the fun in that?
There’s an upside, though. As I wore my aligners, I found myself drinking more water and eating healthier – no sweet drinks or random snacking. The effort of taking the retainers on and off was too much. It’s actually good to be lazy, in this case.
To keep track of just how much time I was wearing my aligners for best results, I found the Zenyum app extremely helpful. Besides a weartime tracking function, it also showed the exact time left to the next set, and even had a responsive customer service rep in-app to answer any questions I might have.
The only issue was sometimes forgetting to “resume tracking” after I wore back my retainers. I’d love it if the app allowed me to backtrack the hours I lost manually instead of having to disturb my long-suffering customer service rep.
If you are wondering about the comfort level about the Zenyum aligners, you have nothing to worry about. The aligners are slightly tighter at the start of each set, but you get used to it fast.
Tip: Switch your aligners at night before bedtime, so that the initial tightness wears off when you go to sleep.
Also, hardly anyone noticed I was wearing them despite my self-consciousness. I did have a slight lisp with my first set, but that was because my mouth wasn’t used to the plastic initially. Now, I even give work presentations with them on and nobody is wiser, since they are “invisible”.
Results after 5 sets
After wearing the Zenyum aligners for around 50 out of the total 224 days planned for me, I already noticed a slight difference.
My overbite was now far less pronounced, and that one bottom tooth which had always jutted out was now well on its way to getting aligned with the others. I even noticed that in pictures I didn’t look as buck-toothed.
Another bonus: my teeth had gotten a lot whiter. Both my friends and partner pointed it out, and it wasn’t entirely surprising since my oral hygiene was now more on-point than ever. I mean…you had to brush and floss after every mealtime to prevent food bits or stains on your aligners – sometimes, I even brushed 5 times a day. Yay for true pearly whites!
Verdict for Zenyum aligners
While I’m still midway through my Zenyum journey, I have high hopes for the end result. While occasionally troublesome when on-the-go to find a toilet to remove the aligners, the inconvenience is still minimal. In the grand scheme of things, it’s a small price to pay for a beautiful smile.
If you’re intrigued, consider if you’ve the discipline to floss and brush religiously and wear your aligners for at least 22 hours a day. Dentists advise that 22 hours a day is required to stabilise the teeth in their new positions.
While it may be tempting to declare this rule too rigid and just wear your clear aligners at night only, this just wouldn’t work. There are actually new advents in the market — night time aligners — but these are also less than effective as you’d be only wearing them for a maximum of 8 hours. Singaporeans don’t really sleep enough either.
The journey also doesn’t end there, though. After your final aligners, you’d have to wear retainers ($300) at night to keep your teeth straight. How long?
In dental speak, you’re supposed to wear your retainers for at least 20 hours for the first 3 months, 12 hours a day for the next 9 months, 8 hours a day for the second year and 8 hours a day on alternate days from the third year onwards.
The short answer: pretty much forever.
Tip: If you’re not happy with the end result, Zenyum can produce complementary additional aligners. You’d only need to pay for an extra 3D scan ($100).
All in all, I find that if your teeth require minor adjustments and you prefer a few in-person dentist consultations to set your mind at ease, Zenyum strikes the happy middle ground between other players like Invisalign, Become and SmileDirectClub.
It’s easier on the wallet as compared to Invisalign, plus its local start-up nature makes it easier to get in touch with the folks behind it, too. Now, time to take the plunge and set your teeth straight once and for all!
Jessica is one half of twins, and is a Gryffinpuff according to Harry Potter’s Sorting Hat. She will never say no to an adventure. While waiting for the next one, she takes MBTI quizzes (INFP), sings Disney songs and pole-dances.