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.

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

  1. Emily says:

    I have a gap between my two front teeth and in between my second and third tooth. Do you think the 6 month braces would be the best option for me? Also would this mean that there would be gaps between my rear teeth (or other teeth) when I do have the braces done?

    • I think if I were having treatment on my own mouth, I would want it done by the doctor with the most training and experience. Orthodontists have two to three years of training. Doctors offering “6 month braces” have two days. I would not recommend that for anyone.

  2. Ms. M says:

    I have had the 6 month smile procedure for minor crowding and a mild crossbite. I recently had my braces removed after 8 months of treatment as recommended by my dentist, even though I felt my bite was now off. My Dentist was dishonest and stated everything looks great and will fall into place within the 6 months that I needed to wear full time retainers and that my teeth will settle. She also tried to nickle and dime me if I wanted further correction of her poor work. I decided not to pay to have her experiment on me anymore. As the doctor in this article wrote, about retreating 6 month smile customers, I am now in the process of undoing the damage that was done and spending twice the amount to do so. I would not recommend this procedure to anyone unless possibly speaking to and seeing results of prior customers with similar dental concerns.

    • I am sorry to hear about your experience. As I have stated over and over again on this blog, the key to successful treatment results is the training and experience of the doctor providing the care. I wouldn’t feel comfortable trusting my body to a practitioner with a single two-day seminar.

    • Tracy weaver says:

      I am in process now. My braces were removed because he felt invisalign would help. 1 1/2 months later, my teeth have moved even more and he can’t find a company to do the invisalign. He also stated he used to be an orthodontist.

      • This sounds very fishy to me. First, orthodontists don’t use short term orthodontics. Second, Invisalign is one of the biggest companies in the world and easy to find online. And third, once an orthodontist, always an orthodontist. I would find a new doctor who knows what they are doing immediately.

  3. Lea says:

    Glad that I came across this artcle. According to your write up I am well suited for this procedure as the traditional braces process was not guaranteed for me (bottom overcrowding on bottom middle tooth slightly pushing out my near perfect top teeth)

    I have had my consultation and was told that I would need slight filing of bottom tooth is this normal from your experience? Still a better option for me than to have tooth extracted.

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