I tried S$2,400 invisible braces from Singapore startup Zenyum – and I’m in love with how comfortable they are

For the price, transparent look, and (eventual) comfort level, Zenyum is definitely bang-for-your-buck.
Zenyum

Ever heard of invisible braces?

Popularised by US brand Invisalign, transparent aligners are now all the rage among those looking to straighten their teeth, thanks to being far less obvious – and painful – than traditional metal bands.

Now, two-year-old Singapore startup Zenyum is offering a similar service across South-east Asia at just S$2,400 – which it claims is 70 per cent cheaper than competitors.

Invisalign costs about S$8,000, while regular metal braces can cost about S$6,000.

Zenyum previously told Business Insider that it saves costs by printing its aligners in the region, and acquiring and screening potential customers on its own platform.

The catch? Unlike other options, it can only fix a customer’s front teeth, not tougher dental problems like bite conditions and jaw alignment.

But as someone with conveniently crooked front teeth, I decided to test out the service to see what it was like.

Here’s how it went:


Hi! I’m Rachel, and as you can see from this grainy photo, I have crooked teeth – thanks to all four wisdom teeth erupting at the same time.

However, I put off getting braces because I felt my teeth weren’t awful enough tolerate the pain and trouble associated with them.

caption
source
Business Insider/Rachel Chia

When I first read about Singapore startup Zenyum last year, it seemed perfect: the company fixes customers’ front teeth using clear aligners for a very low price compared to braces.

So several months later, I decided to give it a try.

caption
source
Business Insider/Rachel Chia

Zenyum, however, doesn’t accept every customer. You have to send them pictures of your teeth first in what their website calls a “pre-assessment”.

The startup told Business Insider that it cannot fix serious issues like molar realignment, severe overcrowding, and jaw or bite conditions.

caption
source
Screenshot

Fingers crossed, I followed the instructions on the website and sent over a selection of deeply unglamorous snaps of the inside of my mouth.

caption
source
Screenshot

A couple of days later, I was accepted as a customer, and sent to visit a dentist at one of their partner clinics.

There, I was warned in a disclaimer that the treatment could cause headaches, an “uncomfortable feeling” in my mouth, and possible “changes in speech” – all of which later proved true.

caption
source
Business Insider/Rachel Chia

Next, I got my teeth X-rayed. After looking at the X-ray, the company proclaimed I could skip interproximal reduction.

That’s medical-speak for shaving down teeth to make space for them to move.

caption
source
Business Insider/Rachel Chia

After that, the dentist ran a scanner over my teeth to generate a 3D model.

This was one of the most uncomfortable parts of the treatment, especially when the bulky scannner head was jammed tightly under my upper lip.

caption
source
Business Insider/Rachel Chia

After the machine spit out a creepily-realistic simulation of my teeth, I was free to go.

caption
source
Business Insider/Rachel Chia

Several days later, Zenyum sent me a proposed final alignment of my teeth based on the scan.

Customers are allowed to request changes, but I was happy with it.

caption
source
Zenyum

Watching the video made me realise how mis-aligned my upper teeth were – something I wasn’t aware of before.

caption
source
Zenyum

Days later, I was summoned back to the clinic to collect my customised aligners. There were 18 versions of the aligners, each made with two different thicknesses, for a total of 36 pairs.

Each pair would move my teeth more and more toward the final alignment.

caption
source
Business Insider/Rachel Chia

Here’s what the aligners look like. They popped on and off my teeth in seconds.

While I was skeptical at first, these really were ‘invisible’ –  even my family couldn’t tell when I was wearing them (unless I purposely smiled so wide so they could see the plastic rims).

caption
source
Zenyum

The package also came with two boxes to store the aligners in, and rubber tubes to bite on so the aligners would press tightly against my teeth.

They were very easy to care for – I simply rinsed them before I wore them and after I took them off.

caption
source
Zenyum

Zenyum’s treatment program is run mainly through its app, which tracked how long I wore each set of aligners and very helpfully reminded me when to switch them.

Every time I switched, I took photos of my teeth so the dentist could track my progress.

caption
source
Screenshot

Reader, I wish I could tell you that these aligners were comfortable right off the bat, but the minute the first set went on, I wanted to rip them right off.

All day at work, I spoke with a lisp, and my head felt like it was exploding from the pressure of an unwelcome foreign object clamping down on my teeth. Less than 4 hours into the treatment, I already wanted to quit.

According to Zenyum’s pre-treatment documents, the discomfort was caused by the aligners irritating the sensitive gum tissue.

caption
source
Business Insider/Rachel Chia

As someone who is incredibly prone to headaches, I had to find a solution or stop using the service entirely. Luckily, the app had a chat service, so I told them about the headaches and said I would wear the aligners when sleeping so the pain wouldn’t bother me.

This reduced my aligner-wearing time from the prescribed 22 hours a day to just 8 hours.

If you think you can live with the discomfort, don’t do what I did. The dentist tried hard to dissuade me, as only 8 hours of wear doubled my treatment time and I risked “unpredictable results”.

caption
source
Screenshot

Even after reducing the wearing time, the first three sets of aligners were still uncomfortable, and left my gums aching and sore the next morning.

But as the weeks went on, something incredible started to happen: my teeth started to feel better and better when the aligners went on.

caption
source
Business Insider/Rachel Chia

By the fourth set, I had got so used to them that they only registered as a slight pressure on the crown of my teeth.

The headaches and lisp stopped entirely, and the gum soreness was still around, but was far less painful and went away in minutes.

Dare I say? I started looking forward to wearing my aligners, and even considered wearing them in the daytime.

caption
source
Zenyum

Truthfully, I was worried that wearing the aligners at night would mean my teeth wouldn’t move, but they did – and quite noticeably, too.

Here’s how much my lower front teeth straightened in just three months:

caption
source
Business Insider/Rachel Chia

It definitely took a long time before I got used to the aligners. Much like wearing contact lenses, they caused a lot of angst at the beginning.

But from the second month onward, I fell in love with how comfortable they had become, and seeing how effective they were sealed the deal.

My verdict? For the price, transparent look, and (eventual) comfort level, Zenyum is definitely bang-for-buck compared to traditional braces, and totally worth sticking through the first few weeks for.

caption
source
Zenyum

Read also: