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All Posts in Category: Braces & Retainers

A woman wearing lingual dental braces.

3 nearly invisible dental braces that adults love

These days, a growing number of adults wish to improve their teeth later in life. There could be a couple of reasons for this: orthodontics is more affordable and available than it once was, and baby boomers feel younger and want a look to match. One thing most adults are not too keen on, though, is visible braces

Yes, wearing braces can feel like being transported back to school. When you’re a teenager, they are a ‘badge of honour’ — a rite of passage. As an adult, though, they’re not so cool. After all, in the ‘grown-up’ world, we are, unfortunately, judged on our appearance. Looks are important — which, of course, is why you might be considering braces in the first place.

Well, we have some good news for you: If you want to get braces, there are less obtrusive options available, including lingual braces.

Lingual braces

Most dental braces fit on the outside of a patient’s teeth and are difficult to hide. Lingual braces, however, sit on the inside and are almost invisible, which makes them ideal for image-conscious adults.

Unfortunately, as many orthodontists are reluctant to fit lingual braces, they are not readily available. You see, compared to other types of braces, there is a bunch of stuff (like there being a smaller arc to work on) that makes fitting and maintaining lingual braces more mechanically tricky.

Anyway, in recent times — thanks to Alla, an old hand in the art, joining the team — Turner Lim has become more involved in lingual orthodontics.

Like many things in life, though, with lingual braces, as well as pros, there are a couple of cons to be aware of:

  • Mind your tongue. Because the braces are on the inside, they can affect tongue movement and take a bit of getting used to.
  • Your budget. Lingual braces are a premium product and, therefore, cost between 30% to 50% more than standard options.

Other discrete dental braces

Apart from lingual braces, there are two alternative non-obtrusive types to consider.

  • Invisalign®: With this system, there are no restrictions on what you can eat and drink. It consists of almost invisible computer simulation-generated templates (aligners), which are changed every 1 to 2 weeks. Your orthodontist will provide a new set at each check-up appointment (usually 8 to 10 weeks). For Invisalign®, the length of time between appointments is longer than many other treatments, which makes it easier to balance other commitments. Invisalign® isn’t effective for some bite issues — although advancements mean the bites types it isn’t suitable for continue to become fewer. In fact, for some bites, Invisalign® is the best option. For tricky work, and to make treatment as efficient, smooth and attractive as possible, we may first use a combination of fixed braces on the back teeth and Invisalign® on the front — there are so many options.”
  • Ceramic braces: Like standard types, ceramic braces have a small gate to hold an archwire in place and are not susceptible to the elastic ring changing colour with your latte or curry. Due to being made of a translucent material — some even come with tooth-coloured wires — ceramic braces are less visible than standard metal braces and even Invisalign®.

We understand that aesthetics are particularly important for our adult patients, which is why we don’t charge adult patients extra for ceramic or Invisalign® braces. Also, with all ceramic and lingual treatments, we routinely use SureSmile on adults to achieve optimum results and treatment times.

So, there you have it: If you’re worried about what braces will look like, there are options available. If you enjoyed this post, please share.

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Do you want a smile like Tom Cruise? It’s never too late

If I say “Tom Cruise,” what first springs to mind? His flawless white teeth, perhaps? Well, if so, it may surprise you to learn that Thomas Cruise Mapother the Fourth (yes, that’s his real name) wasn’t born with a perfect smile. He saw an orthodontist.

Apparently, Mr Cruise’s teeth used to be pretty bad, and he was spotted wearing braces as recently as 2002. Actually, lots of ‘beautiful people’, including Nicholas Cage, Gwen Stefani and Faith Hill, have seen an orthodontist as adults in pursuit of that ‘perfect smile.’

So, where am I heading with this post? Well, you don’t have to be born with perfect teeth to make significant improvements.

A confident smile

Studies show that people are actually more likely to succeed in their personal and professional lives if they have good teeth. Why? Well, Tom Cruise knows it, you know it, I know it; we are judged by our looks.

As unfair as this may be, people make assumptions. That’s human nature. For example, if your lower teeth protrude, you may be perceived as aggressive; if there’s a gap between your top-front teeth, people may think you’re not too clever.

Of course, when it comes to success (or lack of it) it’s possible that self-perception plays a big part —when we project confidence, people are more likely to have confidence in us.

It’s never too late

These days, if you want to improve your teeth, there’s not much stopping you. As celebrities, like Tom Cruise, show, orthodontic treatment isn’t reserved for teenagers. You’re never too old. At Turner Lim, we’ve treated patients in their 60s!

Teeth move

Some adults come to us with crooked teeth, despite having worn braces when they were younger. This may seem strange, but it’s understandable. Teeth move over time, and 20 – 30 years ago, many orthodontists didn’t instruct their patients to wear retainers post treatment — they didn’t think they were necessary. However, we now know that retainers prevent teeth from moving back to their original positions once braces have been removed.

Is treatment expensive?

Orthodontic treatment isn’t as expensive as you might think. Depending on your budget, there are several options available, and most orthodontists offer payment plans.

Braces can be discrete

Of course, as an adult, you’re probably concerned about how you will look with braces. The good news is that you needn’t look like ‘Metal Micky’. Modern braces are not as conspicuous as they used to be. Invisalign®, for example, uses aligners that are almost invisible, and ceramic braces are made of translucent material and use tooth-coloured wires.

In reality, an orthodontist may not be able to make your teeth quite as perfect as Tom Cruise’s. However, they can get pretty close.

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What if I don’t wear a retainer after my braces come off?

In the past, once your dental braces were removed, that was it. Your treatment was over. We now know, however, that you still need to wear a retainer after treatment.

What is a retainer?

Retainers are designed to hold teeth in place after braces are removed. They are usually made of wire, plastic or a combination of both (click here for more information).

Why do I need a retainer?

If you had orthodontic treatment 15 – 20 years ago, you may find your teeth have become crooked over time. Back then, your orthodontist probably didn’t tell you to wear a retainer.

Orthodontists have tried to figure out why teeth move and whether retainers can be avoided. Studies have looked at whether other things cause teeth to move, such as wisdom teeth and the removal of certain teeth. However, the cause is none of these things. The culprit, it seems, is age. Like our hair and skin, our teeth change over time. They wrinkle in their own way — they get crooked.

How do retainers work?

Braces straighten teeth by applying pressure. Like a tree bending in the breeze, they usually want to return to their original position once the pressure is gone — especially with young patients who are still growing. Retainers increase muscle memory and keep teeth in place.

How long should I wear a retainer?

The length of time you must wear a retainer depends on your situation. We usually recommend that patients wear retainers every day and night for 6 – 12 months. Afterwards, they can usually wear them at night only for 6 – 12 months. Ideally, a retainer should be worn for a lifetime, usually just one – two nights a week, though.

What if I don’t wear a retainer for a short time?

Research shows there is always a risk of your teeth moving after treatment. If you stop wearing your retainer for a short time soon after your braces are removed (when everything is soft and not settled in) you could experience movement. Also, if your treatment was for a serious condition (like severe crowding or severely crooked teeth) your teeth could also be susceptible to movement.

In summary, once your braces are removed, please wear a retainer — prevention is far better than a cure.

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