This report highlights the danger of self-administering uncertified and unlicensed orthodontic products as a replacement for trained Orthodontist in straightening teeth.
These unlicensed teeth alignment aids are made out of hard plastic and are intended to be worn overnight for a few months to straighten and align teeth. Compared to Orthodontic treatment from licensed Orthodontic practitioners which can range from $3,000 to $10,000, these devices are available from $7 to $50.
Instead of achieving the intended effect of straight teeth, these products could result in Singaporeans experiencing worse teeth than before. According to Association of Orthodontists (Singapore) president, Dr Mohanarajah Senathirajah, orthodontic treatment is customized to the individual patient with orthodontic braces treatment tailored to the individual's specific set of teeth and jaws. Using generic devices purchased online would be detrimental to the users as they could have an undue effect on jaw development and teeth alignment especially since there is an absence of monitoring and supervision by a trained orthodontist. Other harmful side effects highlighted include unwanted teeth movement resulting in a worser bite and exposed roots that can result in tooth loss.
Dr Priscilla Lu, an Orthodontist at the National Dental Centre Singapore, has also highlighted that such over-the-counter devices have not been tested by the relevant health authorities such as the Health Sciences Authority, hence there is no assurance of whether the materials used to make the devices are toxic or not. Moreover, other side effects noted include poor fit, discomfort and pain, ulcer and potential gum recession.
Despite warnings from orthodontists, there is a disconnect with public orthodontic awareness among Singaporeans. Based on online comments, hundreds of these devices have been bought. However, there are some complaints from users highlighting how the devices have been too painful to continue for more than 15 minutes. Discomfort and pain caused by the teeth alignment devices has been acknowledged by the sellers with some websites advocating continued usage as any pain and soreness from wearing the devices was normal. And yet other users have reported that there retainers were not as strong as they initially thought.
Given the vastly different experiences, the effectiveness of such devices is definitely called into question. Proper orthodontic treatment from a trained orthodontist should be the first choice for straightening teeth as braces fitted by an orthodontist produces a low and constant, gradual and dynamic force on the teeth which effectively achieves a straight set of teeth and a proper bite.