If you are an adult, you have likely heard of this term called “6 month braces” or “6 month smiles.”
As an orthodontist, let me assure you that this is not an appropriate modality of treatment when you are trying to get your teeth fixed.
I am posting this blog because of the amount of patients I have recently seen who have completed 6 month braces with their dentist and are now in FULL BRACES to not only finish up, but also correct a wide array of problems that were caused by the treatment.
The “6 month braces” is done by a general dentist who has taken a few courses on tooth movement. While many general dentists are extremely skilled in their profession, there are SPECIALISTS for a reason. Would you go to your primary care physician for heart surgery? I think not, you would choose the specialist who has gone through a rigorous residency program in which they learn the “ins and outs” of the specialty. While choosing a dentist vs orthodontist is not as serious, just understand that an orthodontist has gone to 3 MORE YEARS OF SCHOOL with specialized training in physiology of bone movement, growth and development, proper timing of treatment, minimizing risks such as root resorption, excess removal of tooth enamel, and many more things!
Here is why many adults find 6 month braces appealing:
1. QUICK (in & out of braces in 6 months)
2. Cheaper than traditional braces
3. If you are getting a smile makeover, such as crowns/veneers, or implants, it is a quick way to get the teeth aligned to be in better positions for your crowns or veneers, which maximizes esthetics
Unfortunately, while these 3 items SOUND good, these are the exact same reasons that the 6 month braces fail:
1. QUICK treatment does NOT lead to stability (stability means teeth are in a good position and will likely stay long-term). While no tooth movement will stay long term without retention, you can be sure the teeth that have been quickly moved into 1 position will quickly move back to their original position (even while wearing retainers). Anyone who has knowledge of tooth movement realizes that 6 months is INSUFFICIENT TIME to move and stabilize teeth
2. Cheaper than full braces? Here is some math- most dentists charge $2500-3500 for 6 months of time in braces. Most orthodontists charge $4,000-6,000 for 18 months-2 yrs worth of braces. It is really not that much more for a better, more predictable, more STABLE result.
3. If you are getting a smile makeover, do things right the first time so you don;t have to do it again! 6 month braces works by removing a good amount of enamel from the sides of your teeth. While some of this is normal, too much enamel removal will cause food to become impacted between teeth, cause periodontal (gum) problems, and can be bothersome to a patient who is used to having tight contacts between the teeth (ie, have to really “snap” floss to get in- that is a good tight contact).
SO, are these risks really worth not going though full braces (OR INVISALIGN)? Talk to your orthodontist- there are MANY options you have to choose from instead of going the “fast” route with 6 month braces. I have many adults who are doing lingual (braces on the inside of the teeth) who can a beautiful stable result because they complete their full treatment and DON’T SHOW BRACES AT ALL! If that is your concern, then please re-evaluate and see what all of your options are.