Common Questions

What is Orthodontics?

Orthodontics is a specialised area of dentistry concerned with the supervision, guidance and correction of the growing and mature dental and facial structures.

Orthodontic treatment usually involves the use of what is commonly known as braces to straighten teeth.

However it extends beyond just braces alone. It also includes treatment with appliances to correct jaw problems by modifying jaw growth in young patients. Orthodontics is also required in adults (i.e. non-growing patients) that require jaw surgery to correct a jaw problem.

Why is Orthodontics important

Great smiles speak a thousand words! A great smile is an important asset in a world where first impressions count. Orthodontics will also improve one's self-image, giving new found confidence to some patients after their teeth are straightened.

A straight set of teeth is easier to clean and therefore makes it easier to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Orthodontics can sometimes improve speech and chewing, and prevent dental injuries as well.

What is an Orthodontist?

An orthodontist is a dental specialist that has undergone post-graduate training in orthodontics.

Will braces hurt?

Most orthodontic patients experience some discomfort while on braces. Some may feel pain while the lucky ones say it's painless. The discomfort usually starts a few hours after the braces are put on and after the braces are "tightened" during the subsequent reviews. The discomfort usually lasts only a few days. Common painkillers (e.g. Panadol) can be taken to control the pain.

Many patients develop ulcers after the braces are put on. This will be less common when the cheeks and lips become "seasoned" to the braces.

Will I be able to eat and talk normally?

There will a "break-in" period before you feel you can eat normally. This is usually a few days but varies with different patients. But everyone gets used to it eventually. Initially though, you may want to eat softer food and chew slower. Most patients experience only minimal difficulties in speaking and usually overcome them very quickly.

At what age should orthodontic treatment occur?

Orthodontic treatment can usually start as soon as all the "milk" teeth have exfoliated and the adult teeth have sufficiently erupted.

Growth modification treatment is sometimes started earlier, while the jaws are rapidly growing, to correct a jaw problem. This may avoid the need for jaw surgery in future. It is therefore good to bring your child to a dentist early for routine checkups.

Orthodontic treatment is also sometimes delayed till jaw growth has stopped for certain jaw problems.

Can I be too old for orthodontic treatment?

Children and adults can both benefit from orthodontics, because healthy teeth can be moved at any age. The health of the teeth, the gums and the supporting bones will determine the prospects for treatment.

OK I'm ready, how do I get my braces on?

The braces are put on over 3 appointments, a week apart (this is the usual sequence but might be changed depending on the case).

Call us to arrange for a consultation appointment. Once you have decided to proceed with treatment, a set of records will be taken. This includes photos, x-rays and impressions of your teeth. Small rubber spacers will be placed to create a small space around the molars.

When you return to the clinic for the second appointment a week later, these spacers will be removed and metal rings are fitted onto the molars ("back" braces).

A week later, the brackets ("front" braces) will be put on and the wires are tied in.

How often are the appointments after I put the braces on?

The review appointments are usually about once every month. These reviews are usually a short duration. During this time, your orthodontist might change your modules (small rubber bands that hold the wire in the braces), the wires or some of the braces depending on the stage of treatment.

Are there any risks?

Most risks relate to the health of your gums and bones before treatment and your oral hygiene during treatment. Maintaining good oral hygiene is important for successful orthodontic treatment.

What do rubber bands do?

Rubber bands or elastics contribute a lot to straighter teeth. Attached to your braces, elastics exert the force that creates the right amount of pressure to move teeth in directions that the braces alone can't. It's important to wear your elastics as prescribed and change them every day so the force is constant which the teeth like. A lack of consistency in wearing rubber bands can bring treatment to a standstill .

Can I get colors on my braces?

Colorful modules are used to tie the wire to the brackets which are attached to your teeth. These colors can be changed with each visit when adjustments are done.

Are Extractions Of Teeth Necessary For Orthodontic Treatment?

In patients with severe crowding or protrusion of teeth ,extractions of permanent teeth may be required to achieve better results.The number and location of teeth depends on the type of malocclusion. It is not uncommon for patients to remove as many as four teeth for treatment. At the end of treatment, all spaces will be closed.

How long is the treatment time?

In general, active treatment time with braces ranges from one and half to two years. The actual time depends alot on the cooperation of the patient and the severity of the problem. Keeping to appointments, taking good care of the braces and using rubber bands or bite plates, if prescribed, all contribute to completing treatment early.

How much will it cost?

Orthodontic treatment fees vary widely, depending on the severity of the problem, complexity of treatment and length of treatment time. Fees may be paid over extended periods during the course of treatment.

Alfred Cheng Orthodontic Clinic might not be the cheapest orthodontic clinic in Singapore but we are reasonable and affordable in our dental pricing.

What are retainers and why do I need to wear them?

Our teeth move throughout life, although at a very slow rate. Teeth that have been moved orthodontically have a tendency to move back to their earlier posiition. To prevent this relapse tendency, teeth are held in retainers until the relapse tendency has diminished. After the braces are removed, everyone is given individually prescribed retainers.The retainer is designed to prevent your teeth from moving while the bone around your teeth hardens and stabilizes. We encourage our patients to wear retainers nightly for a minimum of one year to maintain their beautiful smile.

What about routine dental care?

Before orthodontic treatment begins, it will be necessary to visit your family dentist for a checkup and any necessary dental work. Once orthodontic therapy begins, you will be expected to continue to see your family dentist for regular 3- to 6-month checkups and routine care. Routine dental care will help ensure the best possible results from your orthodontic therapy.

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