Whether it’s your own teeth or your child’s newly wonky gnashers that need orthodontic attention, getting braces can be an intimidating thought. But, as with so much in life, knowledge is power and armed with the right information you’ll realise there’s no need to fear the orthodontist’s chair.
We talk to the Dr Jason Su, an orthodontist, from Q & M Dental, a well-established dental practice with more than 60 clinics island wide, to get the lowdown on orthodontics and the road to a beautiful, confident smile.
What is an orthodontist?
An orthodontist is a dental specialist who has undergone years of rigorous training in the diagnosis, prevention and correction of malpositioned teeth and jaws. In Singapore, that means three years of post-grad training plus specialist accreditation after additional years of clinical experience.
Why might I need braces?
Crooked teeth, gaps between teeth, overcrowding, buck teeth, under bites and open bites are the most common reasons for needing braces.
Apart from straighter teeth and more confidence, what are the advantages of having braces?
Straight teeth and the nice, confidence-boosting smile that comes with them are certainly one of the main benefits, no matter what age you are. However, there are also important dental health benefits as well.
A bad ‘bite’ can potentially lead to loose teeth, dental wear and even gum recession. Plus, straight teeth are less of a food trap and allow for easier brushing. Studies have also found that people with protruding upper incisors are at a higher risk of dental trauma, which could lead to broken, devitalized or even premature loss of permanent incisors.
Do I need to have teeth extracted to have braces?
Nobody likes to have their teeth pulled out, but at times this might be necessary to achieve an optimal result. In general, teeth are extracted to create space. The spaces are used to correct dental crowding, or to retract protruded incisors. It is best to consult your orthodontist who will be able to advise you on your particular case.
What kinds of braces are available?
There are three types of braces, each of which can handle most cases of teeth realignment.
Traditional metal braces
A great all-rounder, these are the most cost-effective of the three. Metal braces are adjusted on each visit and consist of metal brackets which are bonded onto the teeth and wires which the teeth move along. The modules that engage the wire and bracket come in many different colours making them popular among children and young adults.
These are great for working adults who want to have their teeth straightened in a less obvious way. They are much less visible than their metal counterparts (but equally effective). However, the wires are still made of metal and can be seen up close.
Advances in technology mean braces can now be virtually invisible with brands like Invisalign offering aligner trays that are totally clear and removable. Apart from being ‘invisible’, they can be taken out for eating and teeth cleaning. Avoid the temptation to keep them out longer than necessary though – with clear aligners, it is the patient’s responsibility to wear them for enough hours every day.
How do I take care of my teeth while wearing braces?
Keeping your teeth clean throughout the treatment is very important. There are brushing techniques that help clean more effectively around the braces and with a little practice, you will soon find the rhythm and it does not have to be a very time consuming routine.
Certain types of food should also be avoided. Biting on ice, frozen chocolate and crab shells could dislodge the bracket from the tooth. Steer clear of sweet and sticky food like caramel as they are difficult to clean off, and sugar increases the risk of tooth decay when left in contact with the tooth over a prolonged period of time.
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