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.

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

  1. R A says:

    I love that you only post negative results for 6 month smiles. I’m well into the process (6 months on top; 1 month on bottom) and I’m VERY pleased with the results. I’m 62 years old and have had very crowded, ugly teeth for most of my life. Six month smiles treatment has straightened my teeth in an amazing and quick way. And at a third of the cost of you orthodontic folk. Yes, I had went to an Orthodontist before doing this. Stop posting only the negatives. Surely there are other successes that you are ignoring. Sheesh. Oh, and BTW, I have NO monetary or personal relationship with 6 month smiles. If it hadn’t worked, I’d trash it!

    • Dear RA. I have posted every comment about Six Months Smiles I’ve ever received. I have never held back a single one, positive or negative. One thing I have learned about online reviews is that happy patients rarely take time to write while angry ones always do! I’m glad that you are happy with your treatment. If you re-read my posting about Six Month Smiles, I do not trash the product. In fact I state that in the right cases it can work just fine. The issue that I have with Six Month Smiles is that it is being used in many cases for which it is inappropriate. This happens because of the lack of training and experience of the provider, not the product. You seem to be happy with your results and I posted your comment, just as I have all others who have written. BTW, I cannot speak to fees in your area, but Six Month Smile fees in my area (and in other areas of the country as reported by comments on my blog) are only 25% to 33% less than full 24 month treatments provided by orthodontic specialists with more training that can correct the bite in addition to the front teeth.

  2. Eva Russel says:

    I was about to get a six month brace next week and was trying to learn more about it when I reached here. Seems like most of the people are against it even though it is way cheaper than the regular ones. I understand from your previous comments that the inexperience of the dentists cause the problems than the procedure itself. The dental treatment center from where I am planning to get the treatment have an orthodontist who is said to have more than 20 years experience in orthodontic dental treatment. So I am expecting he should know about the procedure more than a normal dentist so that I can continue the six month treatment without much worry. In any case another advice wont hurt me.

    • You need to evaluate the credentials of the doctor you chose your orthodontic treatment. If your doctor is a general dentist or does “orthodontics,” this is different than a residency-trained orthodontist. Even if the doctor claims to have 20 years experience, if he has not had formal orthodontic training he is not and orthodontist. An orthodontist is a dental specialist who limits his practice to fixing the smile and the bite. He does not clean teeth, do fillings or crowns, or root canals. If the person offering to do six-month orthodontic treatment on you does cleanings, fillings, extractions, root canals, etc. he or she is not an orthodontist. Another good way to determine if you are really getting your work done by a specialist is to look the up on the American Association of Orthodontists website. Here is the link: http://www.mylifemysmile.org/

  3. June Fox says:

    In my case, I began the six month smile treatment one year ago! Today, they finally took off the top braces. I am very disappointed with this whole process and didn’t realize until much later that my dentist had only received a two day training. I will need further treatment from an experienced orthodontist. Six months and a full year with this process unfinished is just awful! And I am not happy with how narrow my smile looks. I would NEVER recommend this to anyone!!!

    • Thank you for sharing June. We all like and trust our primary care dentists. When they have a new procedure they offer, we usually feel comfortable because of our relationship with them. Orthodontic treatment can be challenging. I graduated at the top of my class 25 years ago and have treated almost 10,000 cases. I still have cases that are a challenging combination of esthetics, function, bone and gum health, and stability. I can’t imagine diving into cases with the limited training that these short term orthodontic systems offer.

  4. Ellen says:

    I had six month smile braces for 10 months and am unhappy with the result. My bite is wrong where it was fine before and my smile is much narrower. I believe it was due to the inexperience of the dentist as most adjustments appeared to be “trial and error” in nature. Complete waste of money. I am now about to start Invisalign with a very experienced orthodontist. I would say to anyone thinking of this treatment, make sure you go with someone with the necessary skills and experience to produce a good end result.

    • Hi Ellen. Your story confirms what my blog posts states. There is nothing wrong with the Six Month Smiles system. The key to good results is not the “hammer” being used, it is the “carpenter” swinging it. Six Month Smiles is just a tool. The chances for success are directly correlated with the training and experience of the doctor using it. Thank you for sharing.

    • Katelyn says:

      While I had conventional braces, I’d be cautious about invisalign. Be sure to brush and floss your teeth!

      • Great point. No matter what kind of treatment you’re receiving, oral hygiene is critical. Even though brushing and flossing are easier with clear aligners, I’ve seen patients with swollen gums and white spots because they didnt’ keep their teeth clean.

  5. Urszula says:

    I started six months smile just 2 weeks ago. The first week of having braces in, was a hell! I knew it would be painful, but not to that extend. It is much better now, so I am glad. However, I’m still concerned about these braces. My bite is not ideal, but it doesn’t bother me much. Having read all your comments about inexperienced orthodontist, I’m afraid I’ll end up with worse bite than I have now. The main reason why I’m straightening my teeth is because my lower incisor is crooked and I have always been subconsciously worried about it. My upper arch is even and I’m happy with it, but been advised that while doing lower arch, I’d have to do upper arch as well, mainly because these braces correct bite. Please help and kindly advise if I should ask the orthodontist to take off the upper arch before it gets worse.

    Personally, I’d prefer invisilign than six months smile. I’ve been very unlucky with orthodontists and braces products. If I could I would have changed six months smile to invisilign now. One more thing – I really appreciate that someone posted negative comments about this product. Shame I didn’t come across it before I decided to go for it.

    • Six Month Smiles and Invisalign are both just tools. The key to success is the “carpenter” who is using the tool. Knowing whether or not either tool will do the job is part of the training and experience that set orthodontists apart from primary care dentists.

  6. Nic says:

    i’m so glad i saw this as i was about to sign up for six month smiles today!!! i’m happy i looked up reviews before i went ahead and have struggled to find any positive reviews… i know that its more likely to be the people who experienced problems who will share their experience, but considering some of the problems i have read its really not worth the risk! its my front 2 teeth i want straightened as i had retainers and full braces as a teenager and the job wasn’t finished how it should have been and they have now moved more so i’m very unhappy with them. i think that reading these reviews has made me re-think the more expensive options and maybe saving for a more professional option that will give me the results i want in the correct way that wont harm my current bite or condition of my teeth or make my teeth worse would be the best option. i wont be paying for 6 month smiles (which i found a cheap £600 deal for) i will wait and get it done with less risk! Thank you.

    • I have heard both positive and negative comments about short term orthodontic techniques like the one you considered. I’m sure there are some simple cases that could be fixed in six months by a dentist with only two-days training. In my experience, most problems are more severe. I think you are smart looking for a specialist with more training and experience, especially since this is your second time around!

  7. Katie says:

    I’m 32 years old and I just finished Six Month Smiles after only wearing them for 5 months. I couldn’t be happier with the results! I was very hesitant at first and almost regretted going through with it during the first month because I was in so much pain. Once you get through the first month, it’s not that bad. I highly recommend it!

    • I am glad to hear that you had a successful outcome Katie. If you read my blog article and all of my responses to comments, it is NOT the tool that determines the outcome, it is the skill of the clinician. Sounds like the one you found had the skills appropriate for your problem. Congratulations!

  8. George says:

    I am a young man who opted for 6 month smiles and severely regret the decision. While my mild crowding has been fixed and my teeth look good, I feel that function has been grossly compromised in the process. I find that the right side of my jaw is very sore and on the same side I seem to have ear problems. I now also grind my teeth at night. I never had any of these issues prior to six month smiles. The dentist who treated me is very friendly but inexperienced and I cant help but feel a mixture of anger and regret as the result is far from ideal, again from a functional perspective. It is a shame that the general public is bombarded with marketing for 6 month smiles but little else suggestive of the kind of complications that can arise out of such shoddy orthodontic treatment. Sadly in times of recessionk I am sure many others like myself will be suckered into the six month smiles route and many general dentists will eagerly take their money.

    • I’m sorry to hear about your experience George. Training and experience are the keys to successful orthodontic treatment. As you’ve learned, the bite is a complex system that is easily disrupted by inexperienced practitioners who are providing treatment beyond the scope of their training. My recommendation is that you see an orthodontic specialist who deals with bite problems like yours every day.

  9. Manjitsingh Bhalla says:

    Really a helpful piece of information! Knowing that Six Month Smiles, such a short term orthodontic treatment may provide more bracing solutions to front teeth less than the upper and lower arches, is an awful result. Dentists trained with this technique may not be able to know everything about possible diagnoses and treatment planning – a restricted ability. Such treatments, against available teeth bracing options in clinic, do sound certainly odd to follow!

    • Please understand that what is at issue here is not the product, but the training and expertise of the one providing the treatment. Orthodontists have two extra years of training and then thousands of cases of experience treating the entire set of teeth, not just the front ones. There are many cases that can be treated in 6 to 9 months. The key is knowing which ones can be done that fast and which ones need more involved correction. Don’t polish the hood of the car if what is needed is a engine overhaul!

  10. Megan says:

    I just had a 6 Month Smile consultation today and decided to do some more research before committing to the process. After finding some of the things that can go wrong I’ve decided to meet with my orthodontist again to discuss my concerns and get her opinion. For me, my bite is perfect but I have crooked upper front teeth and crowded lower bottom teeth, so I’ve been convinced that I am a perfect candidate for this tool. I couldn’t bear to wear braces for 2 to 3 years, but I am concerned with the process of shaving the enamel off the sides of my teeth to make room to make them straight. The 6 Months Smile dentist assured me it would not affect the tooth but it still concerns me. When I was speaking to the consultant she showed me a whole bunch of before and after photos from the dentist himself, who has been doing this for about 7 years. He seems very credible and has lots of good photos from his customers. I am glad I found these reviews and have decided to seek my orthodontist’s advice one last time!

    • I think you are smart to do some investigation yourself. If it were my teeth, I’d ask to talk to some of the patients in the office where they want to shave down your teeth. I would ask for the names and phone numbers to confirm that the pictures in the photo book are actually his happy patients. I admit I’m biased. I had 24 months of 5 days a week, 8 hours a day training under the watchful eyes of a dozen board certified orthodontists in a university setting. We were required to study the science and biomechanics of tooth movement, thoroughly understand diagnosis and treatment planning, practice all procedures on mannequins before touching live patients, do research on orthodontic topics, and treat from start to finish hundreds of patients with all types of orthodontic problems. We learned not only how to straighten teeth when things go well, but how to recognize challenges and get out of trouble when things don’t go as planned. Dentists who are providing “short term orthodontists” typically attend a two-day seminar in a hotel ballroom where they watch slides that quickly give an overview of the topics that a specialist studies for 24 to 36 months. Some seminars provide a box with plastic teeth so that attendees can practice putting on the braces at the hotel. In most cases, seminar doctors go back to their offices and just start putting on brackets without any supervision at all. Some cases go well. Some don’t. As I have said dozens of times on this blog. My hesitation is not with the product, it is with the training and experience of the clinician using it. Just because I can buy the same golf clubs as Tiger Woods does not make me a professional golfer.

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