Is braces always considered to be an elective and cosmetic procedure, or are certain braces cases eligible for subsidies?
Thank you for your question. In my opinion, braces treatment is definitely not always an elective and cosmetic procedure. There are varying levels of treatment need and there is even an index of orthodontic treatment need with some conditions ranked as of greater need then others e.g impacted teeth requiring braces to bring the teeth into proper alignment.
Braces treatment addresses the malposition of teeth and it may be important to improve the function and overall health of the teeth in the long term. There may also be the need to position teeth with braces in order for other dental treatment to be performed in the most ideal environment.
However, dental treatment and braces treatment can be costly. In recent years, the Ministry of Health has offered subsidies through the Community Health Assist Scheme for lower and middle income families. These subsidies cover a range of basic dental treatment e.g fillings, scaling and polishing,extraction, denture, crown and root canal treatment. Furthermore, treatment at the various dental polyclinics around the island also provide subsidised dental treatment for scaling and polishing, fluoride therapy, fillings and extraction. National Dental Centre of Singapore and the National University Centre of Oral Health are 2 tertiary institutions in Singapore that also provides subsidised dental specialist treatment.
Braces or orthodontic treatment is a specialised branch of dentistry and is provided in the tertiary institutions of some government hospitals. However, there are no subsidies from the Ministry of Health for braces treatment in government hospitals, tertiary institutions or in private clinics. This is a public health policy to protect tax payers money with a longer term vision in mind. Braces treatment timing can be considered "elective" meaning that it can be performed as long as the teeth and gums are healthy, hence it can often be delayed till a more opportune time. It will be hard to justify tax payers' money for a procedure that isn't as time sensitive and requires immediate attention as compared to a dental infection.
Hope this helps and all the very best.
Dr Priscilla Lu