When you learn that the average time patients need to wear braces spans roughly 1 1/2-2 years, you might feel a bit disheartened. The thrill of knowing that you or your child can have the perfect smile is slightly lessened when you find out it can take two years to get.
For a teenager, especially, two years seems like a lifetime. While that perception is much less for an older adult, the idea of wearing braces long after many of your peers (read here about how that fact is shifting) might feel uncomfortable or embarrassing—and that’s a long time to feel that way.
But in addition to the aesthetic benefits of braces, straight, properly aligned teeth are an investment in your long term dental care. A bad bite or overcrowded teeth can make it harder to clean your mouth correctly, leading to the buildup of harmful bacteria that can cause oral health problems that would have been much cheaper and easier to prevent than to fix.
So if a dental professional told that you have the option to reduce your treatment time to six months, would you take it? Probably. The field of accelerated orthodontics is gaining traction, and the term “six month braces” is becoming more common.
What Are Six Month Braces?
As the name suggests, these braces are a method of orthodontic treatment which the manufacturer claims will take an average of six months to complete. It is a cosmetic adjustment option used to correct the “social six” (the visible front teeth) for a more pleasing smile.
Some patients might require slightly longer treatment periods, so the actual range is about four to eight months. When compared to traditional braces, there is nothing special or unique about these braces. This treatment is accomplished with regular orthodontic devices (metal, ceramic or clear braces).
How Do Six Month Braces Work?
You might assume that making braces work in six months instead of two years would require accelerated or aggressively tightened archwires to straighten teeth quicker. However, this is NOT how six month braces work.
Regardless of what type of braces are used, where they are placed or what they are intended to correct, the treatment CANNOT “cheat” biology. The forces that affect the shifting of teeth can’t be sped up without potential creating long-term damage. You can learn a more about how teeth move and shift in this post.
Also, there is no “new, advanced” technology at work. In fact, the same process and eq
uipment is used in a normal orthodontic treatment, and the same results are achieved in the same time frame as they would be in the course of a full-term orthodontic treatment.
The biggest “difference” between the two treatment styles is that the remaining time in the 12-24 month treatment is used to correct the malocclusion (“bad bite”)—which the six month option skips. To use an analogy, this process is like fixing a broken glass window with masking tape.
Who Is a Candidate?
Six-month braces have been used on almost any type of case that is treatable with an orthodontic appliance, including:
- Anterior crossbites
- Deep bites
- Open bites
- Adjustments prior to cosmetic bonding or veneer placements
Six month braces are also an option for people who have already undergone orthodontic treatment at an earlier point in their lives, but have had some tooth movement.
What Are the Benefits?
The most obvious benefit of accelerated orthodontics is the treatment time. Even for those not concerned about the appearance of braces, the time spent in braces requires frequent orthodontist visits, limitations in the diet and regimented oral care. Most patients would choose to shorten that time period if they could.
Research suggests that most people benefit from orthodontic care regardless of the severity of their misalignments. Getting braces and correcting other dental problems can affect your overall health as well.
What Are Some Six Month Braces Providers?
Several companies are beginning to manufacture Six Month braces. Here are a few of them:
Six Month Smiles
Six Month Smiles uses Lucid-Lok clear brackets and tooth-colored wires. Six Month Smiles is marketing to general dentistry practitioners as well as orthodontists. The goal of Six Month Smiles is similar to clear aligners, but these inconspicuous brackets give the practitioner more control over adjusting the patient’s smile, and the force exerted on the teeth is no more than during regular treatment.
Coming in two separate options, Fastbraces Classic Series and Fastbraces Turbo Series, the manufacturers claim that the treatment time for the former is 120 days while the later is less than 120 days “for non-deep bite cases.”
PowerProx advertises the use of hi tech “smart archwires” that have movement memory. The orthodontist will bend and twist the wires, and those wires will automatically reset to their original positions, moving your teeth in the process. This method generally requires fewer adjustment visits than a normal treatment in braces, and also is often less expensive.
What Are Some Other Accelerated Options?
The PROPEL System is a micro-invasive procedure where the orthodontist stimulates the alveolar bone (on which the teeth and gums rest) to cause a response that stimulates bone growth, which aids the braces in moving teeth more quickly.
AcceleDent treatment relies on a device that emits micro-pulses that encourage bone growth and help the teeth move faster. The patient wears a mouthpiece around the orthodontics, and turns it on for 20 minutes per day. It is FDA-approved, and considered a safe way to accelerate orthodontic treatment if used as directed.
What Are the Drawbacks?
Most of the technology used in six month braces is the same as it has been for decades, but the six month treatment times are relatively new to the orthodontics field, so long term research studying the impacts on treatment over time do not yet exist.
And, as stated, six-month braces are designed for a mouth that is relatively healthy, with common overcrowding or bite issues. If your case is more severe, choosing this treatment would only help your front teeth improve cosmetically, but would not treat the entire problem.
“Simple procedure” is a relative term in orthodontic treatments. And it is not used lightly. Bites, teeth and smiles all need to be assessed on an individual basis. As should the treatment. Orthodontics is not a one-size-fits-all proposition.
Additionally, you will need to ensure that this is being performed by an AAO-accredited orthodontist. Because it is not a full orthodontic treatment, dentists will offer it as an additional service after a small amount of coursework or a few seminars.
If not done properly and carefully, this can have unintended side effects and exacerbate the original issue—which can take longer to fix than the six month option itself. the most common effect from improper orthodontics is relapse.
To discover more about your options as well as which of the numerous options will serve you better, make an appointment for your free initial consultation at any of our 9 orthodontic offices around Baltimore.
As always, we look forward to making you smile!