Ask Dr Elaine Tan: Early Braces Treatment In Children

DoctorxDentist Session held on 31 August 2018.

Most people associate orthodontics with adolescence or older children. However, orthodontists recommends that your children see an orthodontist as early as age 7. Typically, permanent teeth start to come through around the age of 6 or 7, with adult molars coming through around the age of ten.

Don't worry, it doesn’t mean your child needs to wear braces at this point. It simply means this is the ideal time for an orthodontist to check for any potential issues that could be developing.

If your child displays orthodontic problems that warrant treatment, your orthodontist will recommend the most efficient sound course of action to nip it in the bud.

Dr Elaine answered readers questions on: 

  • Potential orthodontic problems in children
  • Causes of these abnormalities
  • Treatment options for orthodontic problems in Singapore
  • Cost of orthodontic treatments in Singapore

Why is it important for my child to have straight teeth?

brush teeth

With straighter teeth, your child will find it easier to brush and maintain his/her oral hygiene. Straight teeth also make your child look better when he/she smiles and boost confidence!


Will my child’s teeth straighten out naturally as they grow?

tooth gap

Hi Steph,

At age 5, your child would just be beginning to transit to adult teeth and may have a mixture of small baby teeth and larger adult teeth. The adult teeth may also grow from the tongue side on the lower jaw and slowly drift forwards to its final destination.

Having two rows of teeth, one being the baby teeth and the other adult teeth, can look quite messy. Rest assured that this process of transition is normal. However, whether the adult teeth will straighten out on its own will depend on some of these factors:


Why do children need braces?

Hi Sasha, 

You are quite right about the fact that most of the time orthodontists will only start full braces treatment when a child has all their adult teeth present.

However, every child is different and there exists certain conditions where early management may help to prevent worsening of the bite condition or may prevent future problems from developing. We refer to such treatment as interceptive orthodontic treatment.


What are the benefits of early braces treatment for children?

Hello Jean,

The benefits of early braces treatment for children are listed below:

  1. Help in an eruption of permanent teeth that may be stuck in the alveolar bone
  2. Improve growth direction of upper or lower jaws for patients with jaw growth disharmony
  3. Improve bite and prevent future/further damage to permanent teeth
  4. Reduce risk of damage to prominent front teeth
  5. Eradicate bad habits like digit sucking


What problems do early braces treatment in children correct?

braces early

There are many problems early braces treatment can help resolve. These problems may vary depending on the individual.

Early braces treatment can help correct:

  1. the eruption of permanent teeth that may be stuck in the alveolar bone
  2. the growth direction of upper or lower jaws for patients with jaw growth disharmony
  3. bite and prevent future/further damage to permanent teeth
  4. bad habits like digit sucking


How do orthodontists determine if a child needs braces treatment?

Hi Yen Wan,

Braces treatment is used for the correction of teeth and jaw malalignment. Not all teeth and jaw malalignment requires treatment. Braces treatment is usually an elective procedure, whereby the choice of undergoing treatment is dependent on the child and parents.

At the first consultation, I would usually ask the child why they want braces treatment, and if there is anything he/she doesn’t like about his/her teeth or face, and whether it is affecting his/her daily function and psychological well-being.


What are the different types of braces available for children in Singapore?

Hi Iris, Thanks for the D2D.

The different types of braces may include:

  1. Fixed appliances E.g.: regular braces that are “glued on” your teeth
  2. Growth modification appliances E.g.: facemask or twin block
  3. Removable appliances E.g.: bite plate


How painful is braces for children?

painful brace

Hello Min, thanks for the D2D.

I am so sorry to hear about your bad experience. The level of discomfort varies for different children, depending on their pain threshold.

However, children are generally more adaptable compared to adults and they do not usually complain of much pain.


How do I relieve braces pain for my child?

Dear Qinlin,

I am so sorry to hear about his discomfort from braces. I would advise you to bring him back to see the dentist. You could also try giving him some Panadol syrup to help relieve the pain.


What can my child eat with braces?

braces and eating

Hi Kenny,

Congratulations on your daughter’s first step to achieving a beautiful and healthy smile! I usually tell my patients they can continue with their normal diet.

However, they should avoid chewing hard food like nuts, crabs or ice cubes as these may cause the braces to come off from the teeth. She also should not bite off a whole apple, but instead cut the apples into bite-sized pieces.


How to help my 12-year-old daughter care for her braces?

Hello Meixin,

I am happy that you are on this journey with your daughter! There is nothing much that you need to do. Most of the responsibility will be on your daughter to clean her teeth and braces well. Her dentist probably would have taught her how to clean her teeth with braces on.


Can my child still play sports with braces?

Hi Genevive, 

Your child can still continue to play sports, including soccer. Wearing braces shouldn’t stop him from playing soccer especially if that’s his passion!

Patients can still continue to play sports even with braces treatment. The only risk is that when the ball accidentally hits the mouth, the impact from the ball against the braces may cause the brackets to detach from the teeth.


How do I choose the best orthodontist in Singapore for my child?

Hi Camillia, 

Any recognised orthodontist would have gone through rigorous training in the field of orthodontics and would be adequate to treat your child. You can look up the Association of Orthodontists website ( to look for recognised orthodontists.


How much does it cost to get braces for a child in Singapore?

Hi Berthina, 

The price ranges from $3,500 to $4,800 at National Dental Centre Singapore for routine braces treatment for patients in permanent dentition This does not include the extractions of teeth. The price range varies at different clinics in Singapore.

It does sound like your son will benefit from braces treatment for his overcrowded teeth. However, your dentist will need to first assess if he is ready for braces treatment.


Are braces treatment for children Medisave claimable?

Hi Reena,

As braces treatment is an elective procedure, Medisave cannot be used to pay for it.


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All content posted is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. This Q&A is not a patient consultation and any information provided herein is not intended to replace consultation with a qualified medical professional. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment.

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