How much does it cost to get dental braces and Invisalign in Singapore?

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An attractive smile can transform a person’s looks. Having nice teeth can be a huge confidence booster. This is why many Singaporeans may want to get braces for their teeth.

From metal to ceramic braces to clear aligners (with Invisalign being the prominent brand name in this area), there are multiple options for people to choose between various types of teeth alignment treatment. Prices have also fallen over the years and braces are now cheaper than what they used to cost.

Here are some of the costs involved with braces and clear aligners should you decide to go for them.

Types of dental braces and the commitment required

In general, teeth misalignment issues can be treated by four types of dental braces: metal, ceramic, lingual and clear aligners. Depending on the severity and complexity of the misalignment, certain braces may not be suitable, even if you are willing to pay for the additional cost.

Metal braces: $3,500 to $5,000

Frequency of appointments: monthly

What are they: Fixed braces that need to be manually adjusted by the dentist

Metal braces are the quintessential solution for crooked teeth, used traditionally to treat minor misalignment to serious jaw-related teeth problems. You can choose to go for metal braces if you are looking for a low-cost option or facing serious misalignment issues.

Pros:

– Cheaper than less visible types of braces

– In use for many years; hard to go wrong with traditional metal braces

– Can treat more severe / complicated types of misalignment or teeth problems

– Usually require a shorter time to correct your teeth than other less visible types of braces

Cons:

– Most visible type of braces i.e. least fashionable

– Can rub against the inside of your mouth and cause ulcers

– Least flexible (uncomfortable)

Ceramic: $5,000 to $6,000

Frequency of appointments: monthly (usually more)

What are they: Similar to metal braces, except made of ceramic (less visible)

Ceramic braces are perfect for those who are looking to correct their teeth but do not want their brackets to be overly visible. Similar to their metal counterparts, ceramic braces can be used to correct major misalignment issues.

However, ceramic brackets are known to be more brittle and can easily be discoloured. This means more frequent dental appointments may be required. Furthermore, you may have to renounce your morning coffee for some time. Definitely a no-go for caffeine aficionados.

Pros:

– More aesthetically appealing than metal braces by using brackets that are coloured to blend with teeth

– Archwire is also thinner (or transparent polymer)

– Can mix and match with metal braces to save cost while still looking good; ceramic braces for upper teeth and metal for lower ones which are less visible

Cons:

– More expensive. May require more trips to the dentist as well.

– Brackets are more brittle and stain easily, damage to the brackets may cost you more when fixing them

Lingual braces: $8,000 to $11,000

Frequency of appointments: monthly or more

What are they: Metal braces attached to the back of your teeth instead of the front

Even less visible are lingual braces, which are attached to the back of your teeth instead of the front. Although this is the least visible of the 3 types of braces, it may also be the most uncomfortable as there is less space in the mouth for your tongue. This may result in more ulcers and strained gums as your teeth are gradually realigned.

Pros:

– Hidden from view as braces are installed behind teeth

Cons:

– Costlier than ceramic braces

– Difficulty in adjusting

– More discomfort than standard braces as there is less space in the mouth for the tongue

Clear aligners: $2,400 to $10,000

Frequency of appointments: Depends on service provider and the degree of misalignment

What are they: Clear plastic moulds that fit over your teeth and are changed 18 to 30 times throughout the duration of treatment

Clear (invisible/ transparent) aligners are the go-to solution for people who may not want the discomfort and visibility of wearing braces. On average, at a slightly higher price point, individuals can receive customised transparent moulds that reshape their teeth over a period of 24-36 months.

Invisalign is one example of clear aligners prescribed by dentists to treat malocclusions or misaligned teeth, with an average treatment period of 12 to 18 months.

Some service providers have the option of moulds that you can wear only at night when you are sleeping, which is even better for working professionals who may find it inconvenient to wear their aligners at work. The only drawback is that clear aligners can only typically treat minor to moderate cases of misalignment, especially if it is from a DIY service provider. Doctor-directed treatment such as Invisalign may be able to treat complex and/ or severe misalignment.

Pros:

– Least visible form of teeth adjustment

– Most comfortable, as the moulds are changed routinely as your teeth become more aligned

– Some service providers allow you to DIY and may send you the full set of moulds in advance

Cons:

– Expensive

– Not possible for severe misalignment

Clear aligners vs braces

Both clear aligners and braces are designed to correct the positioning of your teeth to improve your smile and general dental health. Metal braces (for example) comprise brackets that latch onto each individual tooth that are then connected to each other by a wire which tightens in such a way as to correct each tooth's position. Clear aligners correct tooth-positions without brackets or wires. Instead, it relies on a series of transparent, custom-made and removable appliances.

Clear aligners may be more appropriate for small-moderate anomalies like mild crowding or tooth alignment problems. It is not recommended for situations where teeth are significantly crooked or uneven, especially if you are using a DIY service provider, instead of using a product prescribed by an accredited dentist.

Braces, on the other hand, are a comprehensive solution for multiple dental problems. Though they might be uncomfortable, they're typically the better and more affordable treatment strategy for heavily misaligned or protruding teeth.

Where you can get teeth fixed

Here are some of the hospitals and clinics where you can get your teeth fixed. There is also the option of clear aligner startups that ship customised moulds to you at low cost and a DIY manual.

Public Hospitals and Institutions Average Cost Of Orthodontics (Braces) – Two Jaws
CGH (Changi General Hospital) $4,600 – $5,000
KTPH (Khoo Teck Puat Hospital) $3,600 – $4,200
NDCS (National Dental Centre Singapore) $3,221 – $4,462
NTFGH (Ng Teng Fong General Hospital) $4,500 – $6,500
NUCOHS (National University Centre For Oral Health Singapore) $4,500 – $4,800
TTSH (Tan Tock Seng Hospital) $4,200 – $4,800
Private Hospitals and Clinics (Or Startups) Average Cost Of Orthodontics (Braces) – Two Jaws Average Cost Of Clear Aligners
Amoy Street Dental $4,815 – $6,420 NA
Embrace Dental Surgery $3,950 – $9,600 $6,600
Q&M Dental $3,852 (Student / NSF promotion) $3,288
Parkway Dental Centre From $2,600 From $2,300
Smile Direct Club NA $2,500
Zenyum NA $2,400

Source: MOH and private clinics and service providers

As can be seen from the table, private clinics are offering competitive prices which are comparable to public hospitals and institutions. However, consultation fees at private clinics are higher, typically costing $150 to $300 per visit.

Furthermore, startups like Smile Direct Club and Zenyum are increasingly disrupting the way traditional braces and clear aligners are done, pricing their clear aligners at a steep discount to their competitors at a flat $2500, with the option of instalment payments as well.

This transparency, alongside the fuss-free shipping of custom clear aligners after a free scan at a local outlet, makes this process even more streamlined than going to a dentist.

The downside is that you may not have the dentist’s expertise in determining whether further adjustments are needed as you go along, and such services also tend to accommodate those with minor misalignment issues. Hence, it might be ideal for you to visit a dentist for cleaning and assessment first before deciding which braces or Invisalign provider is ideal for you.

Being strategic about your payments can also help you offset your costs for getting your teeth fixed. If you are going for instalment payment options which many dental healthcare providers offer, a cashback card like the AMEX True Cashback Card can help you hit a higher cashback tier for the month and get additional cashback at the same time. Get $160 cash via PayNow with $500 spend in the first month when you sign up today.

This article was first published in Dollars and Sense.