This week I’m going to talk about six month smiles and how they work. “Six month smiles” is a brace system that is marketed to ‘non-orthodontists’ with the aim of providing them with a way of aligning people’s front teeth without needing the skill and/or training in orthodontics. In order to provide these braces, a dentist only needs to go on a two day course to be certified, and after ‘certification’ they can then provide this type of brace to their patients.
That’s what they are and who can provide them, but how do they work? The dentist fitting the brace takes a mould of the teeth and sends it to the laboratory where a technician will work out where to put the brackets or squares on the teeth. This is then put into a special transfer jig to allow the dentist to bond them indirectly to the patient’s teeth. The laboratory provides all the wires the dentist will need. Once the brace is fitted the dentist follows the sequence of wires to finish treatment, and may have to reshape the front teeth so they fit together in a better alignment.
One of the issues we find with this type of sectional brace is control of how much the front teeth tip forwards, and they are often “wider” than the rest of the jaw, so although the front teeth are straight they may not be as aesthetically pleasing as you hoped for. In these cases an orthodontist would be able to add on more brace to rectify this, which a dentist may not be able to.
The other problem with pushing the front teeth too far forwards is that this will be less stable, so the patient will need to have retainers ‘long-term’ to prevent them falling back and crossing over again. We would always recommend that permanent retainers are fitted to prevent this happening.
Understanding the pros and cons of any treatment is really crucial when deciding on what teeth straightening treatment to have done. So before you agree to anything, ask about the risks involved, the experience they have, and always get the person recommending the orthodontic treatment to show you examples of their results.