Dental Braces

Fixing uneven, crowded or widely-spaced teeth doesn’t just improve your smile, but can improve your dental health as well. By Sheralyn Tay in consultation with Dr Lai Ye Choung, Associate Consultant, Dentistry

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Benefits of Braces

Sometimes called ‘railway tracks’ because of their appearance, the nickname for orthodontic braces is suitably apt for another reason: they keep your teeth on track to develop into a straight and even row.

More importantly, apart from aesthetic reasons and added self-confidence, braces can impart functional and dental health benefits, explained Dr Lai Ye Choung, Associate Consultant, Dentistry, JurongHealth.

“Braces treatment can improve the fit of the upper and lower teeth so that chewing is more efficient. A well-aligned set of teeth is also much easier to clean and maintain compared to crooked teeth,” he said.

Braces can be used to straighten crooked teeth, create sufficient space for tooth replacement or close gaps for teeth that are too far apart.

Braces at Any Age

In most cases, it is ideal to start braces treatment after the age of 12 when a child’s permanent teeth have all surfaced. However, explained Dr Lai, the ideal age can vary depending on the type of dental malocclusion.

It is never too late to do braces treatment and adults too can start braces treatment, he added. “Treatment time may be a bit longer compared to children and teenagers as the teeth have to move through denser bone structures.”

Treatment Duration Depends on Distance

On average, the treatment process ranges from 15 to 24 months, depending on the rate of tooth movement, the complexity of the case and the patient's attendance and compliance. “To put it simply, the longer the distance the tooth has to move, the longer the treatment time,” Dr Lai said.

Types of Braces

Braces can be made from stainless steel, ceramic, clear plastic or a combination of materials. The types of braces fall under three categories:

1.Traditional braces
Traditional braces consist of brackets, wire and elastic bands

2. Self-ligating braces
Self-ligating braces involve only brackets and wire. They use a gate or clip to keep the wire within the brackets, removing the need for bands. These are costlier but cause less friction and are more comfortable to use

3.Clear aligner therapy
Clear aligner therapy uses clear plastic overlays instead of brackets or wires. These removable aligners are worn over the teeth and ‘grip’ them to gradually move teeth into the desired positions. These are the least visible and comfortable option and are also the most expensive. They only work for moderate alignment issues and the treatment time is longer.

How Braces Work

During the regularly scheduled reviews, an orthodontist will track the treatment progress and adjust the tension and amount of force on the wires to slowly shift teeth into place.

When treatment is completed, the braces are removed and patients will be given a set of customised removable retainers to help them maintain the alignment of their teeth.

How Braces Work

Braces Care and Maintenance

Made of wires and brackets, traditional and self-ligating braces act as traps for food and plaque. This means more care must be taken to protect teeth from stains and cavities.

Braces Care and Maintenance


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