If you’re a Singaporean who is interested in getting braces, you’re not alone. Locally, there is a rising trend of adults seeking orthodontic treatment at the National Dental Centre of Singapore (NDCS), as seen from statistics from 2011 to 2017.
When getting braces in Singapore, it’s important to know the treatment options available, and your finance solutions.
Read on to find out more about the cost, process, and subsidies available for orthodontic treatment in Singapore.
What causes crooked teeth?
How do braces work?
Simply put, braces work by applying pressure on your teeth over time to move your teeth in a desired direction. What occurs simultaneously is that the shape of the bone supporting your teeth will also change.
Orthodontics is the specialisation of treating patients with crooked teeth. This is done by using braces and other methods to straighten teeth and other issues. A combination of methods is used to ensure a better-looking smile and better overall health.
Braces can be fixed to your teeth, or removable. Clear aligners, such as those by Invisalign, are one such example.
What are the benefits of braces?
From improving your self-confidence or self-esteem to correct speech impediments, braces are beneficial for many reasons.
How much do braces cost in Singapore?
The average cost for braces can range from as low to $2,000 or as high as $11,000. Because orthodontic treatment is highly customised, prices tend to vary largely, and are affected by factors such as your age, insurance and type of braces.
The cost of braces is also dependent on factors such as:
- The complexity of your case
- The extent of treatment required
- Type of orthodontic material used
- Whether you will need extraction or jaw surgery
- Your dentist’s level of expertise
While public institutions offer cheaper priced services, do know that waitlists can stretch as long as two years. However, a private clinic will be able to provide you with quicker service and more attention.
Now, there are a few main types, like metal, ceramic, and clear aligners. Here, we’ll assess the costs, plus pros and cons of each one.
With the above in mind, remember that your dentist can always help you decide what type of braces are best for you. If you’re an adult or working professional, you might want to prioritise looking for braces that will not dampen your smile.
Can braces be paid by MediSave or insurance?
Unfortunately, dental treatments like braces and extractions are generally not claimable under the MediSave scheme, unless the treatment involves surgery and is deemed medically necessary.
In terms of insurance: you will need to secure a health insurance plan with dental coverage added to it. At Dental Designs, we are an accredited provider for most major international insurance companies, including AIA, MHC and AON IHP.
Find out more about our dental insurance coverage.
Expats: You can purchase an add-on to your international health insurance plan that could cover up to 50% of your orthodontic costs. And if you already have a private health insurance plan, you can also add on coverage for braces.
With that said, we do not recommend buying a plan just to get coverage for braces since the annual cost of some of these plans is nearly the same as getting braces.
Are there subsidies for braces in Singapore?
Your dentist might be offering a special discount on braces, so never be too afraid to ask. Additionally, they might offer a family treatment discount, or concessions if you pay for your treatment in full.
Some dental practices in Singapore also offer discounts for students and NSF personnel.
- Student packages typically include a consultation, X-rays, scaling and polishing and braces, sometimes at up to a 25% discount.
- Full time NS personnel with a valid 11B are also offered similar packages and discounts. Orthodontists might also subtract the consultation fee (up to a few hundred dollars) from the total bill.
Speak to our friendly team to find out more about your multiple financing options!
Why are braces so expensive?
Orthodontics is highly labour-intensive and is therefore costly. We have to take into account the dentist's working time, which covers everything from time spent diagnosing your case to forming an effective plan, to treatment.
Here’s a deeper look at why braces are not cheap:
Appointments over a few years
Getting braces means a load of chair time. Your orthodontic work can take a few years for you to see your desired results. With a typical two to three year plan, a patient is likely going to be sitting in a chair for up to an hour at a time. Plus, you’re looking at an average of around 30 visits, and potential emergency appointments.
The mechanisms used for braces
Braces aren’t as simple as they seem. There are many detailed mechanisms inside of them that help move your teeth. After all, the moving of teeth through the bone can prove to be tricky, and even the slightest mistake can cause complications to one’s jaw and teeth.
This is why orthodontists go to school for as long as they do – students need to complete four years of undergraduate dental school and undertake a three-year full-time residency training program before becoming recognised as a fully-fledged orthodontist.
Materials and supplies
Not only are you paying for the intricate mechanisms of the braces that help move your teeth, but you are also paying for:
- The supplies used each time you visit
- The costs of the sterilisation equipment
- The time and expertise spent in a laboratory
- Products that are used during treatment
Keep in mind that you’re also paying for your orthodontist’s knowledge, skill, and work (and their team’s). They have rent to pay, staff to remunerate, and other patients who they care about.
With these factors taken into consideration, hopefully it now makes a little more sense the next time you ask yourself why braces are so ‘expensive’.
What is the timeline and process of getting braces like?
The length of treatment largely depends on two factors: Complexity and age.
Braces cases that are more complex (eg. they require extraction, or jaw surgery) will take a longer time to complete. Adults can also expect a longer treatment time than children. While some can solve their orthodontic issues in six months, most typically wear braces for an average of about 22 months. Treatments tend to last from 18 to 30 months.
Here’s a general timeline for orthodontic treatment in Singapore:
Step one: Evaluation
You’ll meet with us to assess your bite, teeth alignment and spacing issues. You will also be guided in your decision of what type of braces are best for you and your lifestyle.You can expect to go through examinations like X-rays and a bite analysis. You might be recommended to get additional dental care (eg. address cavities, extractions) in preparation for braces.
Step two: Getting your braces
Your teeth are prepared for bonding with an application of etchant. A special adhesive holds your braces in place and is hardened via a special curing light.
Our orthodontist will then ‘sew’ it all together – an arch wire will be fed through the braces, and tightened. Unless you’ve got self-ligating braces, elastic bands will also be inserted.
Step three: Living with your new braces
- First few weeks: Your teeth and gums will feel extra tender, so you’ll be eating soft foods for a while. You might also have to adapt to using new dental tools and cleaning requirements, and you will have to keep up an excellent standard of dental hygiene.
- After 4-8 weeks: You’ll visit us for an adjustment and progress check.
- For the first few months: The focus is on correcting your alignment. Once those issues have been addressed, we’ll work on adjusting your bite to a more natural position.
- Regularly till the end of your treatment: You’ll return for regular appointments. Make sure to ask questions, discuss any concerns, and follow care instructions.
Step four: Your last appointment
At this stage, we’ll take off your braces and remove the residue left over from the bonding material. This process shouldn’t take longer than 15 minutes, and will leave you with the perfect smile you have been dreaming of.
Step five: Maintaining your results
To ensure your teeth do not gradually shift back into their previous positions, you’ll have to wear a retainer. This is where many patients tend to get complacent and slack off – but do not let your time, effort and money go to waste!
Additionally, these add-ons could affect the length of your treatment plan:
- Rubber bands
These attach to braces to treat jaw misalignment.
- Palatal expanders
These fit in the roof of your mouth and use gentle force to widen your jaw. These are prescribed in children who are still growing, and can help avoid a future need of braces or lessen the time needed for potential treatment.
This is a device you might mostly wear at night, over your head or on your face
What is the best age for braces?
There is no ‘best age’ for orthodontic treatment per se, but many orthodontists believe that it is beneficial to start treatment from as early as seven years of age.
Interceptive braces can be used to correct dental problems and help with jaw growth disharmony and a poor bite. Furthermore, early braces treatment in children can also help to eradicate bad habits like thumb or digit sucking, and facilitate and guide permanent teeth growth.
Are braces safe?
Braces are usually safe for most. However, those with a nickel allergy should avoid traditional metal braces*. The material used for their brackets and wires generally tend to contain nickel, so if you’re one of those who constantly feels itchy when wearing non-precious jewelry, metal braces might not be the wisest option.
*Thankfully, there are now many alternative materials available for you to choose from. Your orthodontist will be able to guide you regarding these issues.
How to make braces more affordable for yourself
Follow these guidelines so that you won’t have to go through treatment twice, or risk breaking your braces, which could result in more time and money spent.
What happens if you don’t fix crooked teeth?
In many cases, braces are not just an aesthetic procedure. Here’s what could happen if you do not fix crooked teeth:
- Crooked teeth, especially upper front teeth that stick out (protruding upper incisors), are more likely to become damaged.
- Other types of misaligned teeth can also cause jaw joints to ache, make a clicking or popping sound, or become “blocked”. This can make it hard or impossible to open your mouth wide.
- Compensatory movements and teeth grinding can cause your teeth to wear each other down.
- Some types of misalignment might make it harder to clean teeth properly, which can lead to tooth decay and periodontal disease.
- Chewing, speech and digestion problems.
- Lowered self-esteem.
Plus, it is easier for orthodontists to perform restorative procedures such as crowns and bridges on aligned teeth.
Choose a skilled dentist
If you are worried about the cost of braces, you might be tempted to go with the cheapest dentist who might not be the most skilled or experienced. But by cutting corners now, you might be putting yourself at risk for future financial and physical complications.
Additionally, if you end up having to undergo orthodontic treatment more than once, you will not only have to go through twice the porridge dinners but double the discomfort too.
As the old adage goes, you get what you pay for, so always do your research and place your trust in an orthodontist who has a good reputation, reviews and skills.
Getting braces can be an incredible journey that could help bring out the best version of you and impact your wellbeing greatly.
Contact us for the straight, healthy teeth you’ve always dreamed of.
- InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. Misaligned teeth and jaws: Overview. 2020 Jan 16. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK553375/