Remember when you were in school and used to laugh at those kids with braces, calling them metal mouths? Well guess what, now the tables have turned, and after all these years, as a grown adult you’ve finally realised what’s wrong with your face—your teeth are are a trainwreck.
If you’re afraid you’ll be stuck with a mouthful of machinery, don’t worry. Dental technology has evolved considerably since the time you sat the O levels, and it’s now possible to get your teeth fixed without metal—but be prepared to pay the price. Here are your options.
These are the most common types of braces people have as kids, and also the ugliest. Brackets are glued onto each of your teeth and a wire run through them. I wore them from the ages of 12 to 14 and can confirm that you’ll have to get used to ulcers and being pricked by wires.
Despite the fact that these braces are the most visible, there are some advantages to getting them. First of all, they’re the cheapest option on the market. Obviously we can’t say how much you’ll be paying, as we have no idea how crooked your teeth are or how long you’ll have to wear them, but many people report having paid fees in the $3,500 to $4,200 range. You won’t have to pay everything upfront. The initial cost might be say $1,800, and then you’ll subsequently pay an additional fee of say $100 for each visit.
Another major advantage of metal braces is that you tend to have to wear them for a shorter time than Invisalign.
These are similar to metal braces but less visible, since the brackets that stick to your teeth are either clear or enamel rather than metal. The wire that runs through each bracket is also thinner. Obviously they’re not going to be totally invisible. But from afair and in pictures your mouth will look a lot less metallic and cluttered than if you were wearing ordinary metal braces.
Of course, beauty comes at a price, and you can expect to pay up to $5,000, depending on the condition of your teeth. These braces also tend to be weaker than metal braces, so if you’re not careful you might have to deal with cracks or chips which it will cost extra to fix.
Some people try to save a bit of money by getting ceramic braces for their upper row of teeth and then regular metal braces for the less visible lower row. This might be able to save you at least $800.
Lingual braces are braces that go behind your teeth rather than in front, so they’re not visible unless someone tries to stick his head into your mouth. While these look great since they’re virtually invisible, they can also be even more uncomfortable than normal braces, since there’s not a lot of space they’re so much closer to your tongue and gums.
These are sadly very expensive and you can expect to pay $10,000 or more for them. They’re a relatively unpopular option in Singapore, and most people just go for Invisalign.
This option wasn’t common when I was a kid, which explains why so many of us were walking around looking like little space aliens with our metal mouths. These days, most adults tend to opt for Invisalign, which involves transparent plastic molds being fitted over your teeth. These are practically invisible, so nobody will be able to tell you’re wearing them. You will return to the dentist regularly, say every 2 weeks, and your trays will be replaced with a tighter set to shift your teeth further.
Invisalign is far and away the most expensive way to get your teeth straightened, as a new mold has to be made for you each month. You can expect to pay from $6,000 to a very costly $11,000 for your entire cycle of treatment, depending on where you go and how crooked your teeth are.
It is also worth noting that not everyone is a suitable candidate for Invisalign. Invisalign can straighten teeth but can’t realign your bite, so you’ll have to let your orthodontist assess your teeth to determine whether your problems can be solved without having to take the traditional braces route.
Invisalign tends to take a longer time in total than traditional braces. You’ll also have to exercise self-discipline, as you’re supposed to remove the molds when you eat and then put them back on again. If you’re the forgetful sort, you might slow down your own treatment, which will then cost you more money as you’ll have to go for more appointments.
A note on extractions
If your dentist says your jaws are too overcrowded and teeth must be extracted, beware. Not only will this add a couple of hundreds of dollars to your treatment, it could also alter the shape of your jaw. If your dentist is adamant about extracting teeth, I would highly recommend getting a second or even third opinion. Many people who do so often find that another dentist didn’t think it was necessary.
I myself have huge teeth and was a tiny 12-year-old with a very small face, so my regular dentist warned that I might have have to get teeth extracted. To my amazement, my orthodontist declared extraction unnecessary and miraculously managed to straighten my giant teeth perfectly. So always double-check before you allow someone to reach in and pull teeth out of your face!
Is it cheaper to get your teeth straightened as a child or an adult?
It’s best to get your teeth straightened as early as you can afford. It’s not just about aesthetics. Crooked teeth can lead to a bunch of dental problems like rotting teeth and unhealthy gums, so you want to get this sorted as early as possible before it costs you in even more areas.
It’s also a lot less embarrassing to wear metal braces as a child than as an adult. Whereas as a secondary school kid all my friends in braces wore the metal variety, most of my friends who got braces as adults opted for Invisalign.
Where Should You Go To Fix Your Teeth?
- National Dental Centre – This is one of the cheapest options if you aren’t in a hurry. You’ll have to first visit a polyclinic and get a referral. The waitlist is about 1.5 to 2 years long, but you’ll be rewarded for your patience with a very generous subsidy.
- Government hospitals – Government establishments offer competitive rates, so check out Changi General Hospital, NUH, Tan Tock Seng, Jurong Medical Centre, Khoo Teck Puat Hospital and Alexandra Hospital. The price range tends to be from $3,000 to $4,500 for regular braces.
- Private clinics – Private clinics are by far the most expensive option, but you’ll have the advantage of shorter queues, a more flexible schedule and being able to work with a dentist you’ve been recommended.
- Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) – This scheme aims to reduce the cost of treatment for lower and middle income Singaporeans. If your household monthly income PER PERSON is $1,800 and below, you could be eligible for some discounts, so check it out.
Have you gotten your teeth straightened? Which method did you pick and why?
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