Dr. Greg Jorgensen
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1401 Barbara Loop SE
Rio Rancho, NM 87124

The Jorgensen Orthodontics Blog

Does the Six Month Smiles Orthodontic Treatment Actually Work?

Posted by Dr. Jorgensen on December 27th, 2011

Calendar PagesIt seems we all want everything faster and cheaper. This is true in electronics, in retail, and even in medicine and dentistry. Recently, a company called Six Month Smiles arrived on the dental scene promising orthodontic treatment that is shorter and less expensive. What is it and does it really work?

Six Month Smiles is literally a “braces in a box” kit provided to general dentists with all of the parts included. To become a Six Month Smiles provider, a dentist merely pays a fee and attends a two-day seminar. After only two days of training, he can then submit models and begin providing treatment immediately. Within a couple of weeks, the newly trained dentist receives a kit that contains the braces (which have been positioned on the models by technicians at the Six Month Smiles facility), the wires, the o-rings, and even the adhesive needed to attach the braces to the teeth. At the “braces on” appointment, the brackets are placed using mouthpieces provided by the company and the wires are installed. Patients are then sent away and tooth movement begins.

Can the Six Month Smiles system actually move teeth? Yes, it can. Can it make the front teeth look better? Yes, it can. Is it a substitute for regular braces? In some cases it might be. So what are the pros and cons of Six Month Smiles treatment and is it the right treatment for my teeth?

First of all, I need to reveal my bias. I am a board-certified orthodontist with 20 years experience treating the most difficult cases. The Six Month Smiles company does not market to me. They market their service primarily to general dentists who want to add orthodontic services to their practices. I have not taken the Six Month Smile certification course, but I have studied their system and talked to dentists and patients in my community who have used it. More importantly, I have been providing orthodontic treatment for 15 years longer than the Six Month Smiles company has even existed.

Six Month Smiles treatment, just one example of “short term orthodontics,” can straighten crooked teeth. The best cases for such limited treatment are patients with a great bite in the back, mild alignment problems in the front, and either mild crowding or slight spacing between the teeth. The main movement patients will experience after braces are glued to the teeth and the flexible wires inserted is expansion. The front teeth will move forward and outward. If the bite is good in the back and the crowding or spacing is mild, the amount of expansion will be minimal and may actually be beneficial in some patients.

The cases in which “prefabricated” braces will be the least successful are the seemingly simple ones where there is an undetected bite problem, where the upper front teeth do not overlap the lower front ones very much, or patients whose front teeth should not be flared any further. Most of the patients that I have re-treated after their Six Month Smiles experience were unsatisfied because of how flared their front teeth appeared and how their bites felt worse following treatment. Short term orthodontic treatment generally focuses on the front teeth and does not concern itself with how the upper and lower arches come together.

Braces are just a tool. They can move teeth only as well as the doctor using them. Just because the Six Month Smiles company puts the brackets on the models for the dentists who have attended its seminar does not mean that these doctors suddenly know anything more about diagnosis and treatment planning than they did before. Getting braces on the teeth is only the beginning. Knowing what to do at subsequent appointments and how to finish treatment is even more important. Just because I can buy a set of power tools from Sears does not mean that I’m any more of a carpenter afterwards than I was before.

In no way am I trying to suggest that orthodontists are smarter than dentists. There are some dentists who can straighten teeth with the best of us, and some of them are doing so using the Six Month Smile system. The key to the results you’ll receive from any treatment lies in the training, experience, and talent of the doctor providing it.

NOTE: The author, Dr. Greg Jorgensen, is a board-certified orthodontist who is in the private practice of orthodontics in Rio Rancho, New Mexico (a suburb on the westside of Albuquerque). He was trained at BYU, Washington University in St. Louis, and the University of Iowa in the United States. Dr. Jorgensen’s 25 years of specialty practice and 10,000 finished cases qualify him an expert in two-phase treatment, extraction and non-extraction therapy, functional orthodontics, clear aligners (Invisalign), and multiple bracket systems (including conventional braces, Damon and other self-ligating brackets, Suresmile, and lingual braces). This blog for informational purposes only and is designed to help consumers understand currently accepted orthodontic concepts. It is not a venue for debating alternative treatment theories. Dr. Jorgensen is licensed to diagnose and treat patients only in the state of New Mexico. He cannot diagnose cases described in comments nor can he select treatment plans for readers. Because he has over 25,000 readers each month, it is impossible for him respond to all questions. Please read all of the comments associated with each article as most of the questions he receives each week have been asked and answered previously. The opinions expressed here are protected by copyright laws and can only be used with written permission from the author.

84 comments so far in response to “Does the Six Month Smiles Orthodontic Treatment Actually Work?”

  1. Traveler says:

    Hello dr. What an eye opener. I travel a lot and sometimes only places in one place for 9 months. I recently got a contract to work for a year in the USA. I really thought 6 months smile was a gift from God. I never could afford braces until now. I have 5 gaps in teeth which i hate with a passion. Now I’m hesitant to getting the product. I found the RIGHT orthodontist who’s actually a mentor in the program and has a lot of experience would you recommend giving it a chance or trying out my locale orthodontry school for cheap braces and just hope they finish within this year. thank you.

    • I cannot recommend you to any particular doctor without knowing something about them. As you know from this article, I have no problem with the actual Six Month Smiles product itself. My concerns are the minimal training and experience that dentists (not orthodontists) providing the treatment receive before they start treating cases. Any problem that a dentist can treat in six months can usually be treated better by a specialist in the same amount of time.

  2. Jane says:

    I had my braces fitted at the grand age of 52 in November – my front teeth overlapped and as I was getting older I liked how they looked less each day ! Would I do it again ? I don’t know – I can barely tolerate the braces – the horrible green cement on my Bach teeth that affects my bite – I look like my small dog trying to chew – no one has taken the time to explain how it works – I have had my teeth pulled this way and that – no pain relief offered – callouses on the inside of my bottom lip – sections of my ‘bulbous teeth’ shaved – gaps where there were none – the saving grace is that my from teeth are relatively straight and I like that but I’m not sure it’s been worth the money £2.4 k- the pain – and the anxiety – think long and hard – it is not any easy choice – I’ll let you know in May how I feel !!

    • Thank you for sharing your experience Jane. Most of what you are describing is common at the start of treatment. I hope your results are good and that you feel it was all worth it.

  3. Liya says:

    Hi, Dr. Jorgensen
    I am in need of a good way of fixing my teeth I am a college student and I don’t why I waited this long to get braces but I now have decided to do it in my own i started looking up on six month smile but I heard its not very effective and waste of money and the traditional braces takes a long time I am very confused what to do because it’s might be a self downer wearing braces in college so what do you recommend me in terms of time and plus a less expensive way to getting a better smile!!!!

    • Like most things in life Liya, you usually get what you pay for. There is not “short cut” or cheaper solution to effective orthodontic treatment. If there was, we’d all do it. I would recommend that you wait to be treated until you can afford to do it right.

  4. Pearl M says:

    I too had a horrible experience with 6 month smile. My teeth definitely progressively got worse instead of better since I started the 6 month smile.my bite was ruined, I developed a 6mm overjet when I did not have an overjet at all,my arches were narrowed, and teeth that were not supposed to be moved were rotated creating some spacing and crowding. About 3 months in I just had about had enough of trial and error basis everything seemed to be done. At this point I scheduled a couple of free consultations with 3 different orthodontist. All of them were appalled and shocked at how horrible my teeth were done. They all said I i should get a full refund and get those braces off asap.( In fact one of them said that I had a good case with the dental board!).when I went back to the dentist and presented the information I received from the orthodontists he was nervous and offered a full refund before I even asked! He knew he messed up!.. I have since started treatment with a qualified orthodontist .. So far so good. Am hoping and praying that all the errors can be corrected sufficiently. My self esteem has indeed suffered somewhat as a result of the six month smiles. By narrowing my arch so.. I look older as my cheeks look sunken.i smiled more freely before.. Now my smile is tight and I do look different.my chin has been dished in giving me a longer face and somewhat droopy eyes. I would never ever recommend 6 month smiles to anyone. I did not know that the dentist had training for 2 days! Until I did my research on 6 month smile. Neither was I informed in the limitations of 6 month smiles. This information should be part of informed consent so that prospective patients can make an informed decision.the orthodontist am seeing now has been nice enough to charge me the same amount I was charged for 6 month smiles which is 4000$ yet he is doing a full course of treatment which may take about2 years. Infact he mentioned that he has had about 4 patients seeking re treatment after 6 month smiles.

    • Thank you for sharing your experience Pearl. The key to successful orthodontic treatment is accurate diagnosis and treatment planning. If you fail to recognize the overjet that is hidden by by crowding and alignment issues, what you experienced will happen every time. Even as a board-certified orthodontist, when I place brackets on crooked teeth and start aligning them, the bite is going to change and the teeth are going to flare. The key is knowing this will happen and anticipating this in the treatment plan from the start. This depth of understanding is hard to achieve in a two-day course.

  5. Kristina Dittemore says:

    I am curious, how much training does a dentist get with Invisalign? I think its the same two days, is a GP just as “unqualified” to do Invisalign as they are to do six month smiles? Also, how much if these results are attributed to the dentist vs. the system of braces used. That is to say, cant you get equally bad results with any system? My sisters six month smiles turned out great, no problems. It addressed her major complaint, crooked teeth in her smile.

  6. Nicola says:

    Interesting to read this article. I have just had the six month smile braces put in. I’ve had the lower set put in first and next month I go back for the top set. I have some gaps that I would like closed and my tongue seems to have pushed my teeth forward expanding the gaps. I did have proper orthodontic work done 10 years ago but I was never told the need to wear night retainers and over the years they moved again. I went with 6 month smiles as it’s cheaper. The dentist did say my case was an easy one and that I’m suitable for the six months smile. I’m a bit worried now. I will update on progress. The dentist I have used has great reviews on google from previous happy people who completed the treatment, so I hope I haven’t made the wrong choice !

  7. Cody says:

    I also have a bad story from 6 month smile. I am hoping it turns into a good overall worthwhile experience but I am losing hope. I am going on 7 months with them still on and looks like its going to be at least another 3 months. And my teeth wasn’t too bad before so I have to agree its the experience and training of the dentist. Which I found out after doing research that the dentist has only graduated from dental school 5 years ago. I also didn’t know that 6 month smile is only a 2 day seminar, none of which was told to me. Anyways I already had an underbite to start and my bottom teeth were a bit crowded so the dentist recommended that he extract a bottom front tooth to make room and so my bite comes together. I agreed and signed off on the extraction which now I think was a huge mistake. 6 months in and I still have a noticeably missing front bottom tooth. I distinctly remember asking the dentist that with removing a bottom tooth if I will still be in a time period of getting them off in 6 months, as I take jobs in different states. And he told me yes. Now he acts like he didn’t tell me that and says the program can typically take longer 6 months is just the general. Sucks because being 6 months is what sold me on it but he wasn’t telling me it would take longer before he got my money. Anyways now I am questioning everything about how my bite is even going to be when all of this come off as my front teeth seem like they would touch before my back. Also little problems that he said wasn’t a hard fix doesn’t seem to be moving. My teeth at all don’t seem to be making much progress although he assures me that I am making loads of progress everytime I go in for a visit. It seems he is showing me some smoking mirrors. Any advice or recommendations?

    • Underbite cases are difficult. They usually have a skeletal component which makes everything else more harder. Even as a specialist, I cannot treat extraction cases in only 6 months. My advice is that if your current doctor does not have the skill and training necessary, find a new doctor.

  8. whitney says:

    Hi Dr. Jorgensen , I have a overbite with a gap in between my two front teeth and I was wondering if Invisalign can fix this big problem?

    • Clear aligners are effective at closing spaces but less so for fixing overbite. Conventional braces give the orthodontist and the patient so many more options for overbite correction whereas correction with aligners is mainly limited to rubber bands.

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