Dr. Greg Jorgensen
(505) 891-9440
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.

161 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.

    • Kris says:

      I actually have Fast Braces on now! I’m 49 and they are fabulous! My dentist is a general and cosmetic dentist. He also has experienced orthodontic staff that is just for the ortho portion of his office.

      Do your due diligence and homework on the doctor and staff of any office you use. I have had zero problems, hardly any pain after the first initial application to my teeth. The adjustment period for me was about 2 weeks. An ortho waterpick is my best friend. I only have to wear these for maybe 20 weeks…I’m over a month in Now…. good luck!

      • Thank you for sharing your experience. The key to successful treatment is not the company who manufactured the bracket or sold the wires. It is the training and experience of the doctor providing the care. I’m glad that you are happy with your treatment.

  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.

  4. Cybil says:

    Thank you for the detailed information. Why are invisiuline and clear braces $6k in Indianapolis? My friends in Texas and LA paid $3k!

    • You cannot compare fees that way. In my office alone fees range from $4000 to $8000 depending upon the severity and nature of the problems. The only way to compare fees is to have the same patient be seen in both locations and get exactly the same diagnosis and treatment plan.

  5. Orlaith says:

    I have had two orthodontic treatments (aged 10-13) and again aged 14-16 as they had moved. I am now 29 and unhappy with my teeth as they have moved. I recently went to an orthodontist and was told I’d need braces for 18months. I then had another consultation with a dentist providing 6month smiles. I was told my teeth would be perfect in six months. I’m concerned ‘re root shortening. An xray showed the roots were stable.
    I would like advice please

    • The orthodontist you consulted with has 24 to 36 additional months of training in fixing smiles and bite problems. The dentist offering “perfect results” in six months took a weekend course at a hotel. Who do you really think is more qualified to fix your smile?

  6. Dr. Meade says:

    Thank you Dr Jorgensen for a very balance overview of this process. Like many things in our profession it has a place but results are always dependent on the skill and judgement of the person providing the service.

  7. Julia says:

    My son is 11 and has been wearing Damon braces for two years. His teeth are straight, but flared. The orthodontist has been trying to make more space, but we are now at the point to make the decision of whether to pull teeth. (She sent him to a periodontist who agrees that the flare in the teeth is not optimal and will very likely cause problems.) The doc knew that I was against pulling teeth from the beginning, which is why she’s been trying to make space with braces alone. Prior to starting treatment, I took my son to one other orthodontist for a consultation. That doc said that he needed a palate expander. The doc I chose told me that she doesn’t use them because they change facial structure and can only expand the top jaw and not the bottom one. I am very conflicted now. Had I chosen the other orthodontist who used the palate expander, perhaps my son would not need any teeth pulled? I feel like maybe I made a terrible mistake back then. Is it too late to switch doctors? Is 11 too old for a palate expander? Or should I follow the doc’s advice and get his teeth pulled?

    • You stated that the “doc knew that I was against pulling teeth” as if that determined your son’s treatment plan. Orthodontists prefer not to pull teeth if at all possible too, but the decision to have teeth removed depends upon the amount of bone that your son has, not anyone’s opinion. Some patients just don’t have room for all of their teeth. It is just that simple. Using an expander in a clear extraction case is just as wrong as just trying to avoid extractions by using a particular brand of bracket. If your son needs teeth removed, that is the best treatment.

      • Julia says:

        Thank you for your reply! I was really beating myself up for possibly making the wrong decision back then, but after seeing your reply and speaking to the doc again, I realize that it we are on the right track. It may not be the track I would have hoped for, but it’s the right one right now. Thanks again!

        • Thank you for sharing your experience. As in all branches of medicine, there is no perfect, and communication is essential. Good luck with the rest of your treatment.

  8. Nina says:

    I am currently in my 3rd month of “fastbraces” which have been applied and recommended by my dentist. I had begun feeling and seeing my teeth shift right away. As you had said my front teeth began to “flare” as well as my front teeth moving higher up compared to my back teeth. It looked terrible. I had gone to tell my dentist about this several times. She said what she always said saying that the process had just begun and that it takes time to fix teeth. I believe that she is a good dentist as I’ve been going to get since I was 5, I’m 22 now. But I’m simply not satisfied. Would it be best to take the braces off and go to an orthodontist or stay and see if my dentist can actually “fix” them. The cost of the clear braces that an orthodontist is offering me are 4500 as they have seen that I’m a student and I’ve already lost 4000 to the “fast braces”.

    • There is no special treatment system that moves teeth faster than any other. It is all marketing. The most important thing to look for in the dentist who will move your teeth is training and experience. Orthodontists (orthodontic specialists) have 2 to 3 years of full-time residency experience. The dentist you are seeing had a couple days of informal training. There is a huge difference.

  9. Tony Lewis says:

    Hello Dr. Jorgensen,
    I really like your site – it’s opened my eyes.
    Just a question for you please if this is ok but a little background first:
    I have an appointment with a dentist in Liverpool UK where I live this coming Thursday for a 6 month smile consultation. My regular dentist at my request has referred me to other dentist. Among many other qualifications listed on this other dentists’ website include 2011 training in the Six Month Smiles programme. He has completed Level 1 in Manchester, New York and London and achieved Level 2 status in London as well. He is listed on the Six Month Smiles website as a Multi Star Provider. £1,400 for each arch and that includes everything with no hidden extras.

    I had a proper removable metal wire palate brace in my upper jaw only when I was a 14 and I was overseen by a fully qualified orthodontist but I did not finish the course (young and immature I suppose). It is one of my biggest regrets in life.

    I am 45 at the end of this month and want to treat myself to straighten my 6 upper teeth as there is some slight overcrowding (all 6 front middle teeth point a little too much towards the centre of my mouth). My lower teeth are straight. I have all of my teeth and they are in very good general condition.

    My question:
    Given that I did not need braces on my lower jaw and only my upper when I was a kid, will that remain the case now? I do not really want braces on my lower jaw as well as my upper. I understand it is all about bite. You make the point that teeth come as a set but from what I observe, I have a very good bite now. I realise that if my upper arch changes, it may become out of step with my lower arch but I really do not want lower braces as well as upper ones for 6 months. I think if he says both are needed, I will leave it for now.
    Please advise?
    Thanks for your time,
    Tony

    • I find it very difficult to align one arch and have it still match the other one that is not retreated… and I’m a specialist. I don’t think you’ll be happy with the results. As for the qualifications of the dentist you describe. The short-term orthodontic system you require certifies doctors after a single two-day course. The “level-two” certification is another two days. Specialists have two to three years of full-time training in an academic environment rather than a hotel ballroom. Beware!

  10. Gemma Bruce says:

    Hi
    I’m 25 years old and I live in the UK. I have an overbite and slight flaring of my upper teeth, apparently due to my tongue resting on my upper teeth. I was thinking of trying the 6 month smile but after reading your article I am now reconsidering. Any suggestions?

    • If you have an overbite and flared upper teeth, any short-term approach to treatment will only make matters worse. I would recommend comprehensive treatment with an orthodontic specialist. You’ll be sorry if you cut corners on your own dental care.

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