Choosing Your Orthodontist: Don’t Start Your Dental Braces Before You Read This! (BONUS: FREE checklist included)

Okay, so you’ve finally decided to get your teeth straightened. Awesome! But with so many clinics offering braces, how do you choose? Fret not, this post will explain the important things you need to find out before choosing your “forever orthodontist”. We will also do an honest review of how we measure up in each of these areas.

BONUS: Remember to download the FREE checklist at the end!


People Holding Diplomas

In terms of expertise or qualifications, the biggest differentiator is that between a specialist orthodontist or a regular general dentist.

An orthodontist is a dentist who has undergone advanced training in orthodontics (usually 3 years full time postgraduate degree course at a University). So unless there are other factors that make it more appealing to see a general dentist (eg location or cost), you should choose an orthodontist. Put another way, if all things were equal, would you prefer seeing a cardiologist or general doctor to manage your heart condition?

To find out if your dentist is really an orthodontist, you can visit the SDC website. Read our post about searching for an orthodontist here. By the way, it is an offence for a dentist to call himself an orthodontist before being accredited by the SDC. So if a dentist tells you he is an orthodontist but you find out he is not, that says something about him.

How we measure up: Our orthodontist, Dr Wee, has spent 20 years doing only braces since he started his advanced training in orthodontics. He is accredited by the SDC as an orthodontic specialist. Legit.


Wallet with coins banknotes and credit card for payment

This is a natural question to ask. The so-called market rate is between $4500 to $5500. But it may not be as simple as you think because different clinics structure their braces packages and instalment plans differently. So to make a proper and complete comparison across clinics, you need to know what procedures may be separately charged. You should ask if they are included in the advertised prices. Here are the common ones.

  • First visit consultation fees
  • X-rays
  • Dental impressions
  • Retainers
  • Others

You should also know what other procedures may be needed for your braces treatment. These may include:

  • Tooth extractions (this is commonly needed to create space for your teeth to be straightened)
  • Dental cleaning (this is to ensure your gums are healthy)
  • Tooth fillings (any dental decay needs to be treated regardless if you are doing braces)
  • Others

Payment Plan

Another factor which affects affordability is your payment plan. Though it does not affect the total cost, it makes it easier on your pocket, especially if you are a student paying for your own braces. Most clinics will require you to place a large down payment in case you discontinue treatment prematurely. The common stages in which payment is split into are the following:

  • Records stage ($300 to $500)
  • Braces placement stage ($1000 to $2000)
  • Monthly reviews ($100 to $500)
  • Braces removal ($0 to $1000)
  • Retainer issue (($0 to $500)

How we measure up:

Braces treatment fees: Our fees range from $3150 to $5100 depending on your age and case complexity. 

Other fees: In addition to this fee, there is a first consultation fee of $40-$80 and the retainer fee which starts at $200 for the standard set of retainers. There are no other fees for your braces.

Non-braces fees: If you need extractions, we can give you a letter which you can bring to any clinic. This will be an additional cost and the cost will depend on the clinic you go to.

No downpayment: Most clinics collect a downpayment in case you discontinue treatment. Instead of collecting a large down payment at the start, we spread out your total fees evenly in good faith that you will complete your braces with us. The progressive payments are usually between $210 to $300 per month.This makes it easier for people on a tight monthly budget to get braces.

Referral programme

Cheerful young diverse women showing V sign while taking selfie on rooftop

Does the clinic have a referral program that rewards you when you recommend a friend? This could be in the form of discounted services or cash incentives. Depending on the rewards, you could shave off a large portion of your fees. You might even end up earning!

How we measure up:

Because clinics are not allowed to publicize such benefits, you have to visit us to find out if we offer them.


Word Printed on a Card

Are there other benefits that come with getting braces at the clinic? This will help you save on the overall cost of treatment. For example, you can get free cleaning if you come on the off peak sessions a number of times. This helps you save on cleaning, which is important for your general oral health. This is especially so when you have braces on because it traps more dirt.

How we measure up:

Again, because clinics are not allowed to publicize such benefits, you have to visit us to find out if we offer them.


Person Holding Black Android Smartphone

In addition to the distance, you have to consider the ease and cost to get to the clinic. The factors include:

  1. Transportation (e.g. do you have to take multiple modes of transport?)
  2. Walking distance: This relates to convenience but also adds to the total time you need to be on time for your appointment. You should try to figure out the “door to door” time. Ie how much time you need from the time you step out of your door to the time you reach the clinic.
  3. Sheltered path: So you don’t show up dripping wet at the clinic on rainy days.
  4. Parking: It is easier to plan your time if you know that it is easy to get parking. Compared to somewhere that is always crowded where you need to add buffer time for waiting for a carpark lot.

How we measure up:

Transportation: We are within walking distance of Somerset MRT. You can use Google Maps to see the transportation options from your location to ours.

Walking distance: It takes about 5 to 10 minutes after exiting the MRT gate to our clinic. There is a sheltered path if it rains. The building we are located in is not large so it is easy to find your way to the escalators or lift.

Parking: We have 2 levels of basement parking. The lower lever almost never gets full.


Gray Double-bell Clock

This affects how well you keep to a consistent monthly adjustment interval. You need to see how your availability matches your orthodontist’s working hours. Do note that the orthodontist doesn’t always work the same hours as the clinic’s opening hours. This is because they might take shifts, or just be coming occasionally just to see the braces cases. So even though a clinic is open 9am to 9pm every day, the orthodontist might only be there half a day, once a month! We’ve had many cases transferred to our clinic due to this reason. One even spent 5 years on braces because he could not secure an appointment. Another was, in his own words, “terminated” by the clinic because he could not find time to see the dentist.

How we measure up:

We are open from 9am to 5pm for appointments every day except Thursdays, Sundays and public holidays. You have the flexibility to come to any of these sessions because our orthodontist will be available for all these sessions. To better cater to the student crowd, we have extended our Saturday session to 5:30pm. 

Making appointments

How to get an appointment determines the convenience during your braces journey. Some clinics only take requests via phone, which can be inconvenient if you can’t get through and don’t have time to keep calling. This is especially if your schedule is not fixed and you may need to make changes often. It would be better if there were alternative ways to make appointments. These include:

  1. Online self booking: You can view the available slots and book your appointment 24/7
  2. Texting/WhatsApp: This is useful because you can put in a request if you can’t get through a call. Similarly, you can get back into the conversation later if you are busy.
  3. Email: Some people like using email and it is good to have this option open

How we measure up:

You can make an appointment with us using the following ways:

  1. Online 24/7 self booking
  2. Phone call
  3. Text/WhatsApp
  4. Email
  5. In person at the clinic

Services other than braces

You should find out what other dental work you will need in addition to braces. For example, you might need to do extractions before starting treatment or you need to replace a tooth after braces. If you do not have a regular dentist and find it a hassle to look for one, then getting your braces somewhere that provides everything under one roof could make it easier. Having said that, you might still need to come on another day for separate treatments, which doesn’t really make it that much more convenient. Also, if it’s a one-off thing, like extractions, it doesn’t really impact the rest of your braces journey. 

How we measure up:

As we are a braces dedicated specialist clinic, we do not provide other general dental services except for simple cleaning. We will provide a referral letter stating what other treatment is needed if you require one. Some patients wished we had “everything under one roof”. Unfortunately, we don’t. On the flip side, you can be assured that there is no conflict of interest if we tell you that you need other treatment, since we do not earn from the procedure.


Dental Clinic with White Walls and Gray Floor

The environment does not determine the quality of care so it is secondary to other important considerations. However, you should expect a certain level of cleanliness, since it is a healthcare establishment after all. So, old looking decor is acceptable, but if it looks like the last time it got a good sweep was weeks ago, then you want to consider if you want to go there every month. Of course, if you expect even higher standards like freshly brewed coffee and an Osim chair while you wait, you can have those in some clinics too. Spoiler alert: It comes at a cost, which is factored into your treatment fees. So you should know whether you are paying more for better quality of care or for the frills.

How we measure up:

Many of our patients are looking for quality braces at an affordable price point. We understand our clients and are focused on providing what patients want. We take pride in keeping our premises clean, but we don’t go to great lengths in designing an environment that you equate with hefty fees. In other words, we are practical in the same way you create a clean and comfortable home but not one that is necessarily “Instagram-able”……. (unless you like dinosaurs).

Type of Practice (what if the doctor resigns?)

Is this an owner run practice? Or is it a branch of a larger organisation? Is the dentist one of the main partners in the company or an associate that comes once a week just to see the braces cases?

At the risk of overgeneralization, in any industry, owners would care for their businesses more. This goes the same with a dental business. You can expect the owner to put their heart and soul into the business since it is something they built.

You also need to know what happens if a visiting dentist stops their contract with the clinic. Do you have to follow the dentist to another practice? If not, there is also the uncertainty of being assigned a new dentist which you didn’t choose. 

How we measure up:

Bracesaurus is founded and run by our orthodontist, Dr Wee. So from the moment you start your braces journey, you are in direct contact with the person who decides how things are run.


A Doctor and a Patient Looking at a Tablet

Ever had a haircut that didn’t go the way you wanted because your stylist didn’t really get you? Someone who really listens to understand where you are coming from is always important in any relationship. This is especially so for complex matters like orthodontic treatment. If your orthodontist doesn’t really try to understand your concerns, he might miss what you really want out of treatment or brush aside any concerns you raise during your braces journey. So it is important to find someone you can communicate well with.

How we measure up:

We believe it really boils down to empathy. We will try our best to understand the reason you want braces and advise you accordingly. We will even ask you to reconsider braces if treatment does not address your main concern, despite other improvements that braces can bring.

For example, you might have crooked teeth but want braces because you often bite your cheek. Straightening your teeth, however, does not guarantee that this problem will go away. Without finding out your real concern, you might end up spending time and money and not address your main concern at the end. We’ve had several patients from other clinics who re-did their braces with us because the previous dentist didn’t listen to what they wanted and jumped straight into treatment. We want to avoid this. 

The doctor’s personality

White Dog Wearing Sunglasses

Until AI takes away the orthodontist’s job, braces treatment still requires a lot of human touch. And because your braces journey is a long term relationship, it is important that you find someone you are comfortable with. This varies depending on your own personality. For example, some like their orthodontists to be very casual and friendly, while others prefer someone who is more serious and professional. However, if you feel something is not right, you should consult another person. For example, when you feel the orthodontist is very pushy in upselling “premium” braces or if you just feel the dentist is not very open. Another thing is whether the orthodontist addresses your concerns or just brushes them off. Go with your gut feel and don’t settle just because it is a good price or it is near.

How we measure up:

Since there is no good or bad, and what is “right” depends on the other person, you need to meet the dentist in person to get a sense of the rapport and see if you can “click”. Our orthodontist generally slants towards a serious disposition (with occasional dry humour). He feels it is important to address every concern and really try to understand the issue.

The support staff

Although the results of treatment are mainly dependent on the orthodontist, the support staff will influence your overall treatment experience. It would be dreadful to interact with unfriendly staff every month when you go for an appointment. The staff’s attitude also sometimes reflects the doctor’s inclination towards creating a good experience. 

How we measure up:

We believe that everyone should be treated with respect. We try our best to address your concerns. But as you know, it takes two to create a pleasant experience.


The basic standard of healthcare in Singapore is already high. But adopting the latest technology could give you that edge in quality of care and comfort. Digital X-rays, for example, reduce the radiation you are exposed to. Another area is in 3D intraoral scanning to make digital models of your teeth. This replaces the old fashioned dental mould which many people find uncomfortable, especially if you have a strong gag reflex. Furthermore, digital models are much more accurate and do not have the problem of fracturing.

How we measure up:

We adopt technology when we feel it makes a significant impact on your treatment. One of the most impactful changes we embarked on was using 3D intraoral scanner and 3D printing. Our patients love the experience because it is a lot more comfortable. In addition, they can view their tooth model instantly after the scan.


Five Yellow Stars on Blue and Pink Background

As you know, reviews can be bought. If it says something like “2000+ 5 star reviews on” without actually showing actual accounts from patients, you should take it with a pinch of salt. So take in reviews which sound genuine. Also, more reviews doesn’t really mean it’s better.

Bad reviews are sometimes isolated incidents. Orthodontists are human too. Reviewers may have expectations that do not match what the clinic can routinely provide. However, if you see a pattern of negative reviews then there could be some truth in that. If you see negative reviews, you need to consider if it is a deal breaker. For example, if the reviews say the dentist is always unfriendly, this could be a deal breaker. But if some reviewers say they waited an hour to see the dentist on a certain date, you need to balance this with the other pros you see in the clinic. Because waiting to be seen is normal in a clinical setting, even in “premium” clinics. 

How we measure up:

We’ll let the reviews speak for themselves. We always try our best at work, but we acknowledge that we are not perfect and might fall short at times. We constantly reflect on our service and work towards improving it day by day, regardless of reviews. Because we know that once we stop trying to be better, we will get worse. So far, we have not gotten any serious negative reviews, but we don’t expect to keep a “five-star” rating indefinitely.

Free checklist!

As promised, get your checklist here.

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