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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. Invisible braces are gaining popularity. The most commonly used type is the Invisalign technology and here is a guide to everything you need to know about it.
How does it work?
During your first visit to your Invisalign-trained orthodontist, a model of your teeth will be created. They will use a specialised digital scanning device powered by Clincheck software. A set of aligners will then be customised to fit comfortably over your structures. They are removable and clear, making it impossible to see them. They will subtly shift the teeth into the proper position over time.
A new set will be fitted every week to accommodate the constant tooth movement. Gradually, the structures will be straightened out and perfected.
Why is it so popular?
While most people aspire to have their teeth corrected, they don't want everyone to know about it. As Invisalign is ‘invisible’, many opt for it as a low-key way to straighten teeth.
Another reason for the popularity of this technology is how easy it is to clean. With the absence of fussy metal wires and brackets, all you have to do is take the plastic aligners out and give them a good wash. Keeping proper oral hygiene is also extremely easy with this device. After removing it, you can brush and floss as per normal. Not to mention, the process is very simple.
Last but not least, the comfort level is an important factor in the decision-making process. When worn, Invisalign causes less (if any at all) irritation to the oral cavity as compared to traditional metallic braces. That applies specifically to the inside of the cheeks, lips and tongue.
Cost of Invisalign in Singapore
Invisalign costs $4,500 to $10,000 in Singapore. The price range is so broad because the final estimate is based on the condition of your teeth. In most cases, this excludes the initial consultation fees, X-rays and teeth model.
Do take note that you cannot use Medisave (or any types of braces for that matter) as it is considered a cosmetic treatment. You may stick with a credit card, though. Some come with long promotional periods that include no interest or additional fees. The bad news is that there is no cheap Invisalign treatment no matter where you go. But at least you can pay in instalments.
Why is it so expensive?
Invisalign is custom-made and additional aligners will be needed over the course of the treatment.
There are a total of 18 to 30 sets of braces that are replaced once every 2 weeks. This is to keep up with the changing positions of the structures as teeth straightening is occurring.
Do mind that with invisible braces, patients also have the option of tracking their progress through the use of simulator software. This is great for curious people who like to view their money’s worth. By contrast, such an option is not available for metal braces.
Some differences between Invisalign technology and conventional metal braces treatment
- Ease of removal.
Braces are only to be taken off at the orthodontist’s clinic, but you can pull Invisalign out easily at any time.
Invisalign consists of a set of aligners that fit over the teeth. In comparison, conventional braces contain brackets that are placed on each tooth and wires that hold the brackets into place.
After braces are disposed of, 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. This includes chewing gum, caramel, hard candy, popcorn, corn chips and pretzels, to name a few. The problem with these is they are quite likely to get stuck in between the braces. With Invisalign, however, you can remove the aligners before eating so there is no concern of anything getting stuck in them.
- Correction of certain dental issues.
Invisalign cannot correct problems or complex cases that involve back tooth alignment, root movements, gum disease, accomplishing vertical movements or turning/rotating cylindrical teeth. All these can only be fixed 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. They are custom-made according to a 3D computerised model of the wearer’s structures (as mentioned earlier).
Metal braces are composed of stainless steel or titanium and are comprised of 3 parts:
- Brackets are fastened to the teeth with the use of cement. In order for the dental braces to stay in place, the specialist will use high-intensity light.
- An arch wire connects the brackets applying pressure on the teeth to move them into the proper position.
- Ligature elastic are elastic bands available in a variety of colours that attach the arch wires to the brackets. These are changed at every appointment. If not, there is a risk that they slacken and lose their hold over time.
- How long will it take for metal braces to be fitted?
Your dentist will spend about 10-20 minutes to attach a full set. Subsequently, you will have to visit the clinic again 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 appointment when your dental impressions are taken, get ready to wait up to 90 minutes. This is just about the time the specialist will need to prepare all the necessary information. Next, they will send everything to Invisalign’s dental lab. It will then take 3 to 6 weeks for your aligners to arrive.
Frequency of visits to the orthodontist
You should wear each set of aligners for two weeks before you change it. A consultation is needed every 4 to 6 weeks to track the progress of your Invisalign journey.
- Conventional metallic braces.
You will have to undergo a check-up once a month, though it is best to consult your orthodontist regarding this. Certain cases require more frequent follow-ups than usual. Depending on your situation, your doctor will tell you what to do and how often. It is important to follow their instructions religiously.
Length of Invisalign treatment
- Will it take longer to achieve straight teeth with metal braces than with Invisalign?
Invisalign does not speed up the process and the orthodontic treatment times 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 times vary with each individual.
- What is a factor that will affect the duration of recovery?
Age is a significant factor in determining how long it takes for the treatment plan 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 (i.e. full time).
- Are invisible braces more comfortable than metal braces?
As there are no metal wires involved in invisible braces, wearing Invisalign feels considerably more comfortable. Not to mention, the initial adjustment period with metal braces may cause various problems. This includes slight speech impairments, pain when moving the jaw and ulcers.
- Are there any foods that I should avoid when wearing metal braces in Singapore?
There is a concern that food can get stuck in between the wires of the metal aligners. Therefore, it is best to avoid sticky and tough foods or anything that is difficult to bite into.
- Do I HAVE to remove my Invisalign aligners when I eat?
It is essential that you do so. Leaving the aligners on when eating may damage or break them. The cost of replacing invisible braces does not come cheap.
- How do I clean my Invisalign trays?
The aligners come with a ‘Cleaning System’ that is easy to use. Alternatively, the trays can be cleaned by first brushing and then rinsing with 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.
Can Invisalign damage the teeth?
No. You may feel discomfort or pain in between switching aligners. Your teeth could also become more sensitive but that will only last for the time being. You will not experience any problems once you complete the treatment.
Can I drink with my Invisalign in?
No foods or drinks are allowed while you are wearing the aligners. Remember that there is a risk of staining and breaking the braces.
What happens if you eat with Invisalign?
As mentioned earlier, it is not recommended to eat and drink with the braces on. The question is not if you can do it or not, but whether you should.
Does Invisalign work if you only wear it at night?
The treatment is truly effective when you commit to it fully. Or else, the results will be compromised.
Can you kiss with Invisalign?
Of course. That shouldn’t deter you from doing the things you love. The other person probably won’t even notice you are wearing braces.
Invisible aligners work the same way as conventional metal braces, except they are more pleasing to look at. They are virtually invisible. The flexibility and convenience on offer, paired with the ability to track your progress with the assistance of a simulator software, gives invisible braces an added edge over other treatment options.
Invisalign is available in dental clinics all over Singapore. While it is way more expensive than traditional braces, the advantages, 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 beautiful smile. You don't necessarily have to provide upfront payment in order to finance the treatment. Some medical establishments will accept instalments.