Why straighten teeth?
Teeth, which are crowded, “crooked” or poorly aligned cause plaque to build up easily as it is harder to brush such teeth. The accumulation of plaque can lead to gum disease and tooth decay.
Teeth that are severely protruding or crooked can lead to speech difficulties that can cause embarrassment in social settings with some patients eventually developing a low self-esteem. These poorly arranged teeth can also prevent the jaws from biting on each other properly. This ‘bad bite’ can cause gum problems, speech issues and even cause jaw joint problems.
Getting teeth into proper alignment reduces the above-mentioned problems such as tooth decay, gum disease and jaw joint problems as well as speech difficulties in severe cases. For most people the chief motivation for seeking orthodontic treatment is to improve their smile and appearance which inevitably leads to much greater self-confidence.
The process of straightening teeth is known as orthodontic treatment.
Types of orthodontic treatment
Orthodontic treatment is carried out in many forms and can involve a variety of appliances that are either fixed (which are worn all the time and can only be removed by a dentist) or removable (which the patient can take out of the mouth). The dentist will select the appliance according to your treatment needs and an understanding of your desires and lifestyle.
Age is also a strong determining factor in the choice of appliance. With modern methods, treatment can involve conventional metal braces, ceramic or tooth-coloured braces, plastic appliances in a variety of colours or even clear aligners.
Straightening teeth with braces involve moving teeth with a series of wires and elastic.
Clear aligners involve a series of custom-made plastic aligners which fit over the teeth. It does not involve brackets or metal wires.
How long does orthodontic treatment take?
Typically, treatment takes between 1-3 years depending on the severity of the condition.
Common myths about braces/orthodontic treatment:
- Myth #1: Only teenagers and young people are suitable to put on braces
The process involved in moving teeth is the same across all ages. The only difference is that adult treatment might take a little longer compared to teenagers. In fact, increasingly we are seeing more and more adults getting their teeth straightened.
- Myth #2: After braces, my teeth will be straight for life
The above statement is only partially accurate. After orthodontic treatment patients will usually be issued with retainer (a removable appliance) for use at least every night. This is to ensure that the teeth remain in their proper position and continue to stay straight. This is an extremely crucial commitment as our bones and teeth continue to shift throughout life and we can end up with teeth that are crooked again if retainers are not used.
Who provides orthodontic treatment?
Most general dental practitioners are trained to provide orthodontic treatment. However, if your condition is considered complex, there may be a need for you to see a specialist. If so, your general dental practitioner would be able to provide you with a referral to an orthodontist.
You can read this post written by Dr T C Phua (CGDP President 2017-2018) to find out more about choosing a dentist in Singapore for braces treatment.