According to a survey done by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, when meeting someone new, 48% of people replied that the most memorable feature is the smile. The same survey shows 45% believe their smile will remain attractive regardless of age (1).
Your smile is your greatest asset. Having straight teeth contributes to a great smile. Crooked teeth, also known as malocclusion may affect your smile. Some studies even link malocclusion to lower self-esteem (2,3). More importantly, it can increase your risk of decay and gum disease as crooked teeth are more difficult to clean.
Mild malocclusion can be very subtle, and the way it affects your daily life and appearance is a very subjective matter. However, severe malocclusion may impair eating, speaking and even how our face looks!
If you are looking to enhance your greatest asset, orthodontic treatment is an option.
Braces apply gentle forces to your teeth and help guide your teeth into the desired position. Concurrently, the supporting structures of your teeth, including bones and ligaments, will remodel themselves around your teeth. This gives you both straighter teeth which are easier to clean and a better facial profile. Treatment time will vary depending on the severity of your malocclusion. Here are some orthodontic options you can consider:
Metal: Metal braces are stainless steel brackets that are attached to your teeth. Through the brackets, different metal wires are used to apply force on your teeth and guide them. This is usually the cheapest option, but your friends will see the metal when you smile!
Ceramic: Ceramic braces are similar to metal braces. However, tooth-coloured brackets are used, making your treatment less noticeable. This usually costs more than metal braces.
Lingual: Lingual braces are similar to metal braces. However, the brackets and wires are attached to the back of your teeth. This makes your treatment almost unnoticeable. This may take more time to get used to and will cost more than metal and ceramic braces.
Removable Braces also known as Clear Aligners (Invisalign/Mbrace/Clearpath)
These are a series of customized transparent plastic aligners. They are removable and replaced every 2 weeks to help straighten your teeth. Though the most comfortable, they are less effective for severe cases. They can be the costliest option.
Your dentist can advise on which option best suits your needs. For very severe malocclusion, your dentist may recommend surgery alongside braces to achieve your perfect smile.
Questions to help screen your child at home
For children, picking up the problems early is crucial to getting their smile sorted! The Singapore Association of Orthodontists recommends all children to be screened at age 7-8.
Here are some questions to help you screen your child at home:
Does your child sleep or breathe with their mouth open?
Upper airway obstruction can prevent your child from breathing with his nose. With mouth breathing, your child is unable to maintain proper tongue posture. Coupled with the constrictive forces from the facial muscle, the growth of the jaws may be affected (4,5,6).
Does your child have any pacifier or thumb sucking habit?
Pressure from the thumb can affect the growth of the jaw and alignment of the teeth(7).
Does your child snore or grind their teeth at night?
Snoring and night grinding in children has been linked to sleep apnea, which can in turn impair their performance at school! They can be caused by upper airway obstruction (8,9,10).
Does your child consistently wet the bed at night?
Some studies have linked bed wetting to airway obstruction, as it may affect the hormonal balance (ADH rhythm). It can be beneficial to get a check done (11).
Does your child’s teeth resemble any of these (12)?
If your child displays these symptoms, they can greatly benefit from early treatment. 90% of facial development is completed by age 12. Any mismatch in their jaw sizes can be corrected early with a short phase in braces (phase I treatment), myofunctional therapy to retrain muscle patterns, appliances to enhance growth of the jaws (functional appliances) or even just by breaking the habits causing the malocclusion. Your dentist will be able to advice you further on the best method to help your child achieve their best smile. Early diagnosis and treatment can help your child avoid the need for surgery to get the perfect teeth in the future, or having to undergo lengthy periods of braces for less ideal results.
A thorough orthodontic assessment is needed prior to starting treatment. Make an appointment with your dentist today if getting straighter teeth, a great smile and better oral health is your priority.
Written by Dr Krystal Lee
Dr Lee practices at:
Healthway Dental Clinic (Sun Plaza)
Located at 30 Sembawang Drive, Sun Plaza, #03-20, S757713
T: 6555 1445
Healthway Medical – Popular Dental Serangoon
Located at Blk 262 Serangoon Central Drive #01-109 (Level 2), S550262
T: 6286 0204