Braces 101: Everything you need to know about affordable braces

Dentist holding wisdom tooth model

Braces help you achieve a straighter smile.

Braces are a dental device that can help to align and straighten teeth. In complicated cases, it may also be used together with surgery to correct misalignment in bite. It is a popular orthodontic treatment among youths – and even adults – who want to achieve a healthier bite.

There are many options for dental braces, each involving a slightly different procedure. In this article, we introduce the different types of braces and explain the treatment process.

This article will touch on the following topics:

Why get braces?

There are many reasons for getting braces. Not only do they straighten your teeth for a more beautiful and confident smile, they also help to improve your bite and oral health. Studies have shown that individuals with successful braces treatment enjoy higher levels of satisfaction with their body image and self-esteem¹. Read on to learn about the various benefits of braces:

Improve bite

X ray of wisdom teeth

Braces can help to correct improper bite.

Malocclusions, such as underbites and overbites, refer to misalignments in the way the upper teeth and lower teeth come together. They often lead to a range of other problems associated with biting and chewing.

Braces are often part of the treatment for poor bite as they help to correct the teeth’s position. Small orthodontic rubber ties may be attached to the brackets to gradually bring the jaw into alignment.

Improve oral health and prevent dental issues

With overcrowded or crooked teeth, it can be difficult to clean your teeth effectively, since some areas are harder to reach when brushing and flossing. This can result in a build-up of plaque and potentially increase the risk of gum disease and tooth decay.

Additionally, misaligned teeth may grind against other teeth and wear out the tooth enamel (the outer surface of your tooth). Braces help to adjust the alignment of your teeth to prevent these problems.

How do braces work?

In general, braces work by applying constant and gentle pressure on the teeth. These forces are carefully manipulated throughout the orthodontic treatment. Over an extended period of time, they move the teeth into their desired position.

This is possible because periodontal ligaments (the fibres that anchor the teeth in the bone) continually respond to tension and compression on the teeth. When force is applied to the tooth, bone is broken down (resorption) on the side that is being “squeezed”. Bone is also “produced” (deposition) on the other side. While resorption takes place within days, the process of deposition can take a couple of months, which explains why braces treatment takes more than a year for favourable results.

What is the braces treatment process like?

X ray of wisdom teeth

The dentist may take an X-ray to better understand the condition of your teeth.

At NTUC Health Denticare, our orthodontist will work with you during consultations to understand the condition of your teeth and jaws before providing you with a treatment plan. He or she may also take X-rays, impressions and photos of your teeth to diagnose dental problems like an overbite or crowded teeth.

The subsequent visit will involve applying the braces. With fixed braces, brackets are glued onto your teeth with special tooth glue and arch wires are attached. Thereafter, you will only need to visit the dental clinic every 4 to 8 weeks to adjust your braces according to the treatment plan that was crafted for you.

What are the different types of braces?

From traditional metal braces to clear plastic aligners, there is a range of options available in the market. Types of braces can be broadly categorised into fixed braces and removable braces. In this section, we break down the options available at NTUC Health Denticare, along with other popular options in Singapore.

Fixed Braces

Fixed braces are bonded to the teeth and worn at all times – during eating, brushing of the teeth, and during sleep. Fixed braces include traditional braces, self-ligating braces and lingual braces:

Traditional braces

There are two kinds of traditional braces: metal braces and ceramic braces. Traditional metal braces use metal brackets, which are bonded to the front of your teeth. A metal arch wire runs through the metal brackets and is secured in place using elastic ties. During every visit, the orthodontist will adjust the tension on each bracket to gradually bring your teeth into alignment.

X ray of wisdom teeth

Elastic ties (shown here with metal braces) come in a variety of colours you can choose from.

Ceramic braces work the same way, except that the ceramic brackets used to hold the arch wires match the colour of your teeth. Clear elastic ties (and sometimes tooth-coloured arch wires) are used as well.

For both traditional metal and ceramic braces, the duration of the orthodontic treatment lasts between 18 to 24 months on average.

While some people choose ceramic braces over metal braces because they are deemed to be less obvious, ceramic braces are more susceptible to stains caused by the food and drinks you consume. They are also usually more expensive than traditional metal braces.

Self-ligating braces

X ray of wisdom teeth

Self-ligating braces in polycarbonate (upper teeth) and metal (lower teeth).

Self-ligating braces are tie-less braces which do not require tightening and are gentle to the teeth and tissues. The Damon braces we offer at NTUC Health Denticare are self-ligating braces, with a passive slide mechanism to maintain archwires within the bracket, allowing them to move more freely and reduce friction. Without the need for elastic ties, the Damon system also helps to improve oral hygiene since food often gets trapped between the elastic ties and brackets of traditional braces.

Our Damon braces are available in two materials: stainless steel and ceramic.

Lingual braces

X ray of wisdom teeth

Lingual braces are discreetly attached to the back of the teeth.

Lingual braces are a far less common choice of braces treatment. They work just like traditional metal braces, but with the metal brackets attached behind the teeth. While they keep your braces out of view, lingual braces are perhaps the most expensive orthodontic treatment option available. This is mostly due to its customised brackets and the difficulty that comes with installing, adjusting and cleaning the braces.

Do note that lingual braces are currently not available at our clinics.

Removable Braces

Removable braces are, as the name suggests, types of braces that are not bonded to the teeth and can be removed during cleaning or eating.

X ray of wisdom teeth

Clear aligners are removable during meal times

Clear plastic aligners (sometimes known as invisible braces) are one of the options available in the market. The orthodontic treatment involves wearing removable custom-made clear aligners for at least 20 to 22 hours a day. They are replaced every two weeks, and each new set is slightly different from the last, gradually shifting your teeth over time.

Clear aligners, such as Invisalign braces, are a discreet option for the self-conscious as they are almost unnoticeable. They also make eating, brushing and flossing easier since they can be removed during cleaning. However, invisible braces can cost significantly more than traditional and self-ligating braces and require more frequent visits to the orthodontist.

Removable plates are a hard plastic device that uses wires and springs to push teeth into the desired position to fix minor problems with bite or teeth crowding. They are removable and are more commonly used in children whose permanent teeth are still emerging.

Do note that removable plates or clear plastic aligners like Invisalign are currently not available at our clinics.

What happens after my braces are removed?

X ray of wisdom teeth

Retainers have to be worn after your braces are removed to ensure that your teeth do not shift.

The orthodontic treatment does not end with braces. After they are removed, you will need to wear retainers to maintain the alignment of your teeth. Your orthodontist will provide the necessary instructions. Retainers generally need to be worn for life if you wish to maintain your teeth’s “straightness”.

How much do braces cost?

At NTUC Health Denticare, we offer both traditional braces and Damon (self-ligating) braces. Before starting on braces, the cost of the entire orthodontic treatment will be clearly laid out during the initial consultations. This is mostly determined by the complexity of the case, length of treatment and the type of braces used.

These are the prices at NTUC Health Denticare:

Traditional Braces
Single arch treatment (upper or lower teeth) From $2782.00
Double arch treatment (both upper and lower teeth) From $4,228.00
Damon self-ligating braces
Single arch treatment From $3,338.00
Double arch treatment From $5,340.00
Retainers From $200.00 per arch

*These prices are correct at the time of publishing and are inclusive of GST. Please check with our clinics for the latest prices.

For more information, you can visit our article which compares the cost of different types of treatment for braces.

Summary

Every set of teeth is unique. If you are planning to wear braces, it is best that you discuss your options with a professional orthodontist.

Our dental team at NTUC Health Denticare has helped many people achieve a set of straight teeth and will work closely with you to recommend a plan for braces. So call us at 6336 6222 or get in touch with our e-appointment form today!

Frequently Asked Questions on braces

The length of time that you will be wearing your braces depends on the  individual, the complexity of the case, the type of braces used and your compliance with the treatment.

On average, the treatment for traditional braces takes about 18 to 24 months.

Once you begin your treatment, you will have to keep to your regular scheduled appointments every 1 to 2 months. You will also need to take proper care of your braces to prevent breakage and maintain good dental health with regular brushing and flossing.

Generally, the best time to start wearing braces is when all your baby teeth have been replaced with permanent teeth.  In some cases, our orthodontist may recommend early treatment. It is also not too late if you are an adult, as long as your gums are in good condition.

You are likely to experience some discomfort and tightness in the days following each visit. This is perfectly normal as your teeth are shifting. Over time, the discomfort will subside. If ulcers develop on your lips or the side of your cheeks due to the friction from the braces, you can relieve it by covering the brackets (or other protruding parts) with dental wax provided by our orthodontist.

You should also inform them if you need help with managing any discomfort.

It might take a few days to get used to talking and eating with your newly fixed braces, which is normal. For example, you might have a slight lisp, but you will find yourself adapting to your braces quickly and speaking clearly soon after.

If you play contact sports, it is best for those with fixed braces to wear a mouthguard when playing. Fixed braces may also pose some difficulty to those who play wind instruments, though you will eventually get used to it.

We recommend you stick to softer foods to minimise the discomfort you might experience during the first few days. Throughout the course of treatment, you should avoid biting on hard food, such as apples, carrots and baguettes, to prevent your braces from dislodging.

You may also want to avoid sticky and chewy food like toffee, as it may be difficult to clean your braces afterwards.

If this happens and you are in pain or discomfort, you can call our clinic to book an earlier appointment. In the meantime, you can use dental wax to cover any sharp points and prevent yourself from getting cut.

It is important that you maintain good oral health with regular brushing and flossing. This helps to prevent gum disease and tooth decay. You will need to make sure you clean the braces as well, brushing behind both sides of the wire to get rid of any trapped food particles. It is also best that you clean your teeth after every meal. Read this article for more information on cleaning techniques.

This depends on the position of your teeth. There is a possibility that you might need to extract one or more teeth to create sufficient space for the entire set of teeth to be properly aligned. Our orthodontists will advise you further before starting the treatment.

Not only do they help to close gaps of various sizes and positions, braces can also redistribute the remaining space for an aesthetic filling.

Remaining gaps can be filled with composite resin bonding, during which a tooth-coloured filling is added to the tooth to make it wider. That being said, composite resin bonding only works when the gaps are small and symmetrical on both sides.