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1. What is Orthodontics?

A. Orthodontics is the specialty in dentistry dealing with the diagnosis, prevention, interception and treatment of the mal-relation of the teeth and face.

2. What is a Specialist in Braces (Orthodontist)?

A. Just like there are specialists in medicine (such as cardiologists, neurosurgeons etc), there are specialists in dentistry. An Orthodontist is a dentist who after attaining his Bachelor in Dental Surgery degree, goes on to do a 2 or 3 years full time course in orthodontics. His work includes early interceptive treatment for kids as young as 8-9 years old, conventional braces for crowded teeth and even surgical treatment for jaws problems.

3. What is a General dentist?

A. In Singapore, a person has to undergo a 4 years full time course to attain a BDS (Bachelor in Dental Surgery) to be qualified as a general dentist. Their scope of work mainly involves Basic dentistry like scaling, extractions, crowns and bridges, dentures and simple root canal treatment etc.

4. Can a General dentist do braces?

A. During their BDS training, dentists are not trained to do braces. However Singapore government does not restrict general dentists from doing braces. Some have elected to provide braces treatment after having done some self study or gone for some short term courses.

5. How do I know whether my doctor is a general dentist or a specialist/orthodontist?

A. The simplest way is to ask your doctor directly: Are you a specialist in braces? You can also look at the credentials printed in his name card. The word "orthodontist" should appear somewhere in his qualification. Soon with the establishment of the Dental Specialist Register, you will be able to identify the specialist easily. You can check their credentials at www.sdc.gov.sg . Most orthodontists are also members of Association of Orthodontists, Singapore (www.aos.org.sg).

6. Why undergo braces treatment?

A. 1) Aesthetic - a beautiful smile will definitely score more points. Braces allows crooked teeth to be straightened to achieve a beautiful smile, and also a healthy bite, achieving harmony between the teeth and the face.

2) Health - poor bite and mal-alignment of the teeth can result in early loss of teeth, gum problems, excessive tooth wear and joint problems etc. Well aligned teeth are also easier to clean and maintain, thus reducing the incident of tooth decay and gum problems in the long run.

3) Confidence - straight teeth allow for a beautiful smile that greatly improves one’s confidence and self esteem. Children with poorly aligned and unsightly teeth tend to be teased in school. Left untreated, this can lead to psychological, social and developmental problems. It is very common to meet people who are reluctant to smile because they think that their teeth are not nice and straight.

4) Maintenance - a beautiful smile with straight teeth will better motivate one to take care of them.

7. Do I need braces?

A. If you are uncomfortable with your smile/teeth, but you don’t know what can be done to correct it, consult an Orthodontist. He will be able to explain the pros and cons of wearing braces and whether is there a need to wear braces.

8. Is wearing braces painful?

A. Most patients wearing conventional braces will experience discomfort for a few days, usually when the braces are first put on, or after tightening. Most patients get used to their braces very fast and find the discomfort bearable. If you are very sensitive, newer types of braces can further reduce the amount of discomfort.

9. Do I need extractions?

A. Extractions depend on the severity of the case. With newer types of braces, the need for extractions can be reduced. Some patients may still need to have 4 teeth extracted, but all extracted spaces will be closed by the end of the treatment.

10. Are extractions painful?

A. Extractions are not painful at all, as you will be given anesthetic before that, so you will be totally numb. You will be referred to a skillful dentist for the painless extractions.

11. Do I have to avoid any types of food?

A. You can eat anything you like as long as you are comfortable, provided you keep your teeth clean by brushing after meals. You may like to cut your food into smaller pieces. However it is recommended that soft drinks, sweet and sticky food should be reduced.

12. At what age should I wear braces?

A. Excluding the developmental problems (##) discussed earlier, most people can start braces after 12 years old when the full set of permanent teeth erupts.

13. Are there people to whom braces are not recommended?

A. Patients with poor oral hygiene and active gum disease are not recommended to wear braces. However if they are able to achieve a good level of oral hygiene and have the gum disease under control, braces is still possible.

14. Am I too old for braces?

A. You are never too old for braces to help you achieve a straight set of teeth and a beautiful smile. This can be done as long as the teeth, gum and supporting bone are healthy. Personally, my oldest patient was 58 years old.

15. How long do I need to wear the braces?

A. Usual treatment takes about 1.5 to 2 years, although some patients can be completed as early as one year.

16. When is a good time to bring my child for braces treatment?

A. It is advisable to bring your child for a consult at around 8 years old. This allows the orthodontist to assess the dental development and also the skeletal (jaws) development. Early interceptive treatment may be needed as young as 8-9 years old and may be too late by the time the full set of permanent teeth erupts (usually at around 12 years old).

Look out for:
  1. protruding front teeth
  2. reverse bite (the lower front teeth biting in front of the upper front teeth)
  3. deep overbite (upper front teeth completely covering the lower front teeth)
  4. missing / unerupted teeth, especially if this occurs only in one side
  5. early loss of baby teeth
  6. thumb sucking habit after age 5-6
  7. lower jaw biting to one side (slanted)
  8. cross bite (one or more teeth in reverse bite, causing pain and mobile teeth on biting)
  9. crooked teeth
  10. extra teeth
  11. if you feel uncomfortable about your child’s teeth
Early detection of some problems may avoid further complication, preventing future complex treatment or even surgical treatment.

17. How often do I need to see my orthodontist for adjustment?

A.You are expected to see your orthodontist at 4-6 weeks intervals, depending on the type of braces.

18. Is there any risk involved?

A. Risks are mainly related to the state of health of your gums and supporting structure before treatment. Maintaining a good oral hygiene is important for successful orthodontic treatment.

19. What can I do to make my treatment go faster?

A. Keep to your monthly appointment, have good oral hygiene and follow your doctor’s instructions. This will ensure treatment to be completed in the fastest possible time.

20. Are retainers necessary after braces?

A. Teeth have a high tendency to move back toward their original position after braces treatment. Wearing retainers will help to prevent the relapse and also allow stability to be achieved. It is recommended you wear retainers full time for a year.

21. How much will braces cost?

A. Orthodontic treatment fee varies, depending on the severity of the problem, complexity and length of the treatment. It also depends on the types of braces used. We have installment plan to cater to your needs.
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