Ask the Dentist: What’s Invisalign All About?
Expert answers to all your burning questions. We speak to Dr Cheng, one of the earliest practitioners of Invisalign in Singapore.
For many of us, our motivation for fixing our crooked teeth is aesthetics but it seems like there’s a whole host of other good reasons too. Straight teeth are easier to clean (yay for better oral health!) and improve our ability to bite, chew and speak, which misaligned teeth tend to mess with.
Is the process painful?
What we’re doing, essentially, is applying force to move teeth step by step until they’re in the desired position. A certain level of discomfort and tenderness is natural and to be expected, but for most patients, the pay-off makes it well worth it.
Would I need to extract any teeth?
Extraction is probably less common than most people think. It’s not a must. It really depends on whether we need to create space for your teeth to straighten out.
Will I need to change my eating habits?
Diet restrictions are understandably a cause of concern for many Singaporeans. More often than not, the only reason why your dental practitioner will tell you to avoid certain foods during treatment is to prevent damage to the brackets and wires of conventional braces. Food that is hard to bite off or chew, like guava, corn on the cob, nuts and hard candies, could cause the brackets to loosen or even fall off. You will also be advised to steer clear of sticky food like toffee as they tend to latch onto your brackets and are hard to remove.
If this is a concern for you, treatment with Invisalign can be a good alternative. Unlike conventional braces, there are no brackets or wires involved. Invisalign moves teeth into position using a series of clear aligners. These can be removed before meals so you can enjoy all your favourite foods without worry.
How long is the whole treatment?
This really depends on the severity of the misalignment, the choice of appliance and your commitment level. Treatment can take anything from six months to two years, again depending on the needs of each case and the selected treatment method. You can contribute to the timely success of the treatment by being diligent about your progress check-ups and following care instructions well.
I’m worried that braces will affect my professional image at work…
This is consistently one of the top concerns of my adult patients. Many working adults are self-conscious about wearing braces, especially if they are in the service industry or people-facing jobs. For such patients, I recommend Invisalign as a more discreet treatment option. Because the aligners are made of clear plastic, they are virtually invisible. I’ve even had patients who completed the entire treatment without a single person knowing.
Am I too old for braces?
Well, I believe that if you have teeth, then you have a right to beautiful, straight teeth. Your dental practitioner will conduct an oral health examination to make sure that your teeth and gums are healthy enough to go through the treatment. And again, if your question stems from self-consciousness of sporting brackets and wires as an adult, consider Invisalign as an alternative.
Faith Hill and Tom Cruise started bracing up in their 40s whilst Faye Dunaway only invested in braces at the age of 61. Case in point: It’s never too late to start investing in your smile.
How much do braces and Invisalign cost?
This, too, depends on each individual case. If I were to offer a rough, ballpark estimate, you may be looking at $3,500 to $6,000 for traditional braces and $4,500 to $7,500 if you choose Invisalign. Look out for Invisalign plans catered for students and NSF and also clinics offering installment plans if you need help coping with your finances.
How should I go about choosing a dentist?
For starters, I would recommend assessing the dental practitioner’s experience and expertise. You would want to find out how many cases they have handled. If you’re considering Invisalign, there’s a tier system that categories Invisalign providers by experience, so that’s a good reference point. I think it’s also important that you feel completely comfortable with your dental practitioner. Ask for a consultation and gauge how you feel.
Dr Cheng Eng Wah is the principal surgeon and founder of i.Dental, and the man behind the i.Dental Invisalign Dedicated Clinic at Capital Tower. His Invisalign treatment was voted as the Top 3 best cases in 2015 Global Peer Review award and was awarded the Life Time Achievement award by Align Technology for having treated over 1,000 Invisalign patients.
If you’d like to talk to Dr Cheng, request for a consultation today!