The path to the perfect smile has never been easier. Gone are the days of clunky and conspicuous metal braces that used to line the teeth of teenagers and young adults as invisible braces gain popularity. The most commonly used type of invisible braces is Invisalign and here is a guide to everything you need to know about it.
How does it work?
During your first visit to your orthodontist, a model of your teeth will be made and a set of aligners will be customized accordingly so that they fit comfortably over your teeth. The aligners are removable and clear, making it virtually invisible and these aligners will subtly shift the teeth into the proper position. A new set of aligners will be fitted every week to accommodate the changing positions of your teeth and gradually, it will be straightened out and perfected.
Why is it so popular?
While most may want to have their teeth corrected, they may not want everyone to know that they are in the process of doing so. As Invisalign is ‘invisible’, many opt for it as a low-key way to straighten their teeth.
Another reason for Invisalign’s popularity is how easy it is to clean. With the absence of fussy metal wires and brackets, all you have to do is to remove the aligners and clean it. Keeping good oral hygiene is also extremely easy with Invisalign as after removing them, you can brush and floss your teeth as per normal and removing the aligners is very simple.
Lastly, the comfort level is an important factor in the decision-making process of selecting the right teeth straightener for most. Invisalign causes less (if not none at all) irritation to the oral cavity, specifically to the inside of the cheeks, lips and tongue, when worn as compared to traditional metallic braces.
Cost of Invisalign in Singapore
Invisalign costs $4,500 to $10,000 in Singapore, depending on the condition of your teeth and this excludes the initial consultation fees, X-rays and teeth model.
Do take note that you cannot use Medisave for Invisalign (or any kind of braces for that matter) as it is considered a cosmetic treatment.
Why is it so expensive?
Invisalign is custom-made and several sets of aligners will be needed over the course of the treatment.
There are a total of 18 to 30 sets of braces that are changed once every 2 weeks. This is to keep up with the changing positions of the teeth as they are gently and gradually straightened.
Do take note that with invisible braces, patients also have the option of being able to track their progress through the use of simulator software. This is especially great for curious patients who like to view their money’s worth. Such a service is not available for conventional metal braces.
Some differences between Invisalign and conventional metal braces
- Ease of removal
Braces can only be removed at the Orthodontist’s clinic but you can remove Invisalign easily at any time.
Invisalign consists of a set of aligners that fit snugly over the teeth while conventional braces are comprised of brackets that are placed on each tooth and wires that hold the brackets into place.
After braces are removed, a retainer will have to be worn for up to 2 years. Invisalign, after removal, does not require any follow-up treatment.
- Diet limitations
With metallic braces, there are some foods that are off-limits such as chewing gum, caramel, hard candy, popcorn, corn chips and pretzels as these are very likely to get stuck in between the braces. With Invisalign, however, you can remove the aligners before eating so there is no concern of having anything getting stuck in them.
- Correction of certain problems
Invisalign cannot correct issues that involve back tooth alignment, root movements, accomplishing vertical movements or turning/rotating cylindrical teeth. All these can only be corrected with a traditional metal brace.
What are they made of?
The Invisalign aligners or trays are made of a BPA-free thermoplastic material that is transparent, making it almost invisible. These clear aligners look like teeth-whitening trays and are custom-made according to a 3D computerized model of the wearer’s teeth (as mentioned earlier).
Metal braces are made of stainless steel or titanium and are comprised of 3 parts:
- Brackets are fastened to the teeth with the use of cement that is hardened with high-intensity light in order to hold the braces in place.
- An arch wire connects the brackets and applies pressure on the teeth through the brackets to subtly move them into the proper position.
- Ligature elastic are elastic bands that are available in a variety of colours that attach the arch wires to the brackets. These elastic bands are changed at every appointment by the Orthodontist as it will slacken and lose its hold over time.
- How long will it take for metal braces to be fitted?
It typically takes around 10 - 20 minutes for a full set of braces to be fitted. Subsequently, you will have to visit the Orthodontist to have the elastic band changed.
- Will it take long from the first consultation with the doctor to the time that my Invisalign aligner is ready?
During your first consultation with your doctor where your dental impressions will be taken, be prepared to spend up to 90 minutes for you and your doctor to prepare all the necessary information. After that, your information will be sent to the Invisalign’s dental lab. It will then take up to 3 to 6 weeks for your Invisalign aligners to be ready.
Frequency of visits to the Orthodontist
The aligner will have to be changed every 2 weeks and a consultation is required every 4 to 6 weeks to track the progress of your treatment.
- Conventional metallic braces
You will require a check-up once a month, though it would be best to consult your Orthodontist regarding this. Certain cases require more frequent follow-ups than usual.
Length of treatment
- Will it take longer to have my teeth straightened with metal braces than with Invisalign?
Invisalign does not speed up the treatment and the time for Orthodontic treatment for both are fairly similar. It typically takes 2 to 3 years with metal braces and up to 18 months with Invisalign. It should be noted that the treatment times vary with each individual.
- What is a factor that will affect the treatment time?
Age is a significant factor in determining how long it takes for the treatment to be considered successful and complete. Young patients typically see results a lot faster than adults because their jaws are still growing and therefore easier to control.
- Is there a minimum period of time that I will have to wear my Invisalign trays daily?
For maximum results, it would be best to keep the aligners on for at least 22 hours a day.
- Are invisible braces more comfortable than metal braces?
As there are no metal wires involved in invisible braces, it is considerably more comfortable wearing invisible aligners than metal ones. The initial adjustment period with metal braces may also cause slight speech impairments as well as pain when moving the jaw and ulcers.
- Are there any foods that I should avoid when wearing metal braces?
There is a concern that food will get stuck in between the wires of metal aligners and therefore it will be best to avoid sticky foods as well as foods that are overly tough and difficult to bite into.
- Do I HAVE to remove my Invisalign aligners when I eat?
It is crucial and essential that you do so as it may break if you bite into food while leaving the aligners on. The cost of replacing an aligner does not come cheap.
- How do I clean my Invisalign trays?
The aligners come with a ‘Cleaning System’ that is easy to use but alternatively, the trays can be cleaned by first brushing and then rinsing in lukewarm water.
- How should I clean my metal braces?
Take extra care to clean out the braces with your toothbrush or a water pick while brushing your teeth.
Invisible aligners work the same way as conventional metal braces except they are more pleasing to look at and are virtually invisible. The flexibility and convenience that it offers, paired with the ability to track your progress with the assistance of a simulator software gives invisible braces an added edge over other types of dental braces.
Invisalign is easily available in dental clinics all over Singapore and while it is slightly costlier than traditional braces, the advantages of it, such as comfort level, ease of use and maintenance, make it worth the price. You may be unable to use your Medisave to pay for Invisalign but that applies to all forms of Orthodontics treatments.
Additionally, most clinics offer flexible payment plans that make it easier for you to achieve that perfect smile.