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.

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

  1. Alison Mail says:

    I am considering fast braces as recommended by my own dentist but had a second opinion from another dentist who recommended 6 month smile braces. They appear to be the same idea Can you tell me what is the difference. I feel more comfortable seeing my own dentist and price is about the same so I am unsure.

    • Both of those products are offered by general dentists who are not specialists. They have had minimal training in straightening teeth compared to an orthodontist. If I were you, I’d get a third opinion from an orthodontic specialist who has years of training and experience in diagnosing and treating problems like yours. I would not trust my only set of teeth to anyone but an expert!

  2. Deborah Priestley says:

    I am at 25 weeks with my 6 month smile and over the last 4 days one of my front teeth has started to go grey! I’m devastated and not sure what to do. I mentioned it to the dentist and she said she would look at it and take X-rays at my next appointment in 2 weeks time. This is also the appointment to take my braces off. I am really worried something awful has happened. Is there anything I should be asking? If I need more work will I have to pay or is it the fault of the system or dentist? I would really appreciate your thoughts.

    • Although I’m not a fan of Six Months Smiles, this has nothing to do with the type of braces that you had or who is doing the treatment. When a tooth turns grey it means that is has lost its blood supply. There is usually a history of trauma to the tooth sometime in the past. This is not something that is your fault or the fault of the dentist. The fix is that you will need root canal therapy and possibly internal bleaching to remove the grey color. This happened to my own wife BEFORE she had braces and we got her fixed up very easily 25 years ago and the tooth still looks great.

  3. Shay says:

    Hi, Dr Jorgensen. I had a consultation done by both a 6 month Smile certified dentist and a prestigious orthodontist. They both gave me the exact same (almost word for word) consultation on my teeth. Would it be wise for me to save the little bit money for, what seems to be, the same treatment? Thank you!

    • Certification for Six Months Smiles takes two days. An orthodontic specialist has two to three years of full-time training and experience. Which one do you want to trust your teeth to?

  4. Jenny Matherly says:

    You are right. People that are happy with 6 Month Braces are not as likely to submit comments. I am happy. So I’m sending a comment! I am 64 years old. (I admit time was a factor– I’m not getting any younger–ha) I had extractions and wore train track braces for 3 years when I was a teenager. Over the years my lower incisors became terribly overlapping and I had a slight overbite returning. Gravity is a heartless witch– she pulls everything out of shape! I have had my 6 Month Braces for 3 months. The first month I had remarkable straightening of my lower teeth. The overlapping is virtually gone, just final straightening is needed. Now my overbite is pulling back. I am so happy. The key must be, are you a good candidate? My bite is good and the crowding is minimal (compared to my teen days). This is undoubtedly from wearing braces when I was younger. At that time, my orthodontist recommended wearing my retainer for 2 years and I had no permanent brace on my bottom teeth, hence the movement. Orthodontics have certainly changed! I am very happy with the professionalism and training of my dentist. I like that he patiently answers questions and thoroughly explains the procedures. I hope I continue to be this happy– that would make this a perfect experience!

    • Thank you for sharing your experience. The key is finding a doctor with the training and experience equal to your problems. Orthodontic specialists are trained to treat simple and difficult cases and have the experience to know the difference. I’m happy that your treatment worked out for you.

  5. Andrea Arthur Owan says:

    Thank you for your detailed explanation. I have been waffling back and forth on which way to go. I had pristine straight teeth, until about eight years ago when a dentist pounded a cap on my back molar so hard that it shifted my front teeth (lower). Now one is moving farther behind the other tooth and is twisting around. I talked to my regular dentist and my kid’s orthodontist (who, by the way is reared as one of the best pediatric dentists in the country). He also does adult orthodontia, and he said dentists often extract teeth and shave them down to make them fit in the short-term braces. He’s very hands-off and likes to see what nature will do while he’s doing his thing. He did a great job with my boys. I’m looking at 2 – 3 years (and I’m 57 and have never worn braces), but I think slower might be a lot better. He said, he’d move my top teeth out first to see how much room I had. I’ve never really had a bite problem, but I feel as though I do now, with the way I hold my mouth with the tooth-twisting problem. Again, thanks!

    • I cannot comment on your treatment, but I will comment on the training of the “orthodontist” you are seeing. An orthodontist is a dental specialist who only does braces. That’s it. A pediatric dentist is not an orthodontist even if he does braces. A pediatric dentist, by definition, should not be treating adult patients if he is actually a specialist. I have no idea where you live or who you are seeing, but there are a lot of red flags in your explanation of the dentist who is doing your braces. Call your state dental board if you want to know the real qualifications of any dentist practicing in the state.

  6. Henry says:

    I was thinking about getting the 6 months smile. Unfortunately I don’t qualify for invisalign according to a free consultation that I did at a local dental practice. I’m not sure what your thoughts are on this. A couple years ago, I did attempt to get braces but money issue came up so I never did it. I was told by a dental grad student at my local state university (where I was planning to get it at) that I have an overbite and they needed to remove teeth on both the right and left side for both bottom and top of my mouth so they can have space to pull the teeth back.. I know you don’t have much information from me, but how necessary is that? I really don’t want to do that if I don’t have to.

    • It is a fact that some mouths don’t have room for all of the teeth. If you have crowding or an overbite, removing teeth may be unavoidable. If you need teeth removed, you are not a candidate for short-term orthodontics nor clear aligners in my opinion. Trust your only set of teeth to a specialist.

  7. Noelle says:

    I had 2 consultations this week with local orthodontists. I love my regular dentist but unfortunately his office is on the other side of Los Angeles and it would be too difficult to see him once a month for brace tightening. The first orthodontist wants to do the 6 Month Smile, although he said that by moving my teeth around I may get other problems including an underbite. The second orthodontist said she can to braces which I would need to wear for a minimum of 18 months and said she can fix what needs to be fixed. She did ask that I see a periodontist before she’ll proceed. I have a call to my regular dentist, who I’ve been going to for 10+ years, to get his input. My spidey sense says to go with the traditional clear braces, which will take longer and cost a bit more, but should correct my teeth. I appreciate your thoughtful input. More dentists should be honest like you.

    • First, you only have one set of teeth and should trust them to an orthodontic specialist and not your regular dentist no matter what a great guy he is. Second, I’ll bet if you research the other doctor who offered you the 6 month treatment, you’ll find out they are not really an orthodontist. Short-term orthodontics is not a product offered by real specialists.

  8. Davette says:

    I’m getting 6 month smiles on Wednesday. It’s mainly to fix my maxillary central incisors because they’re a tad crooked as well as my mandibular central/lateral incisors. I had braces for two years when I was 16 but didn’t wear my retainer because I thought I knew more about my teeth than my orthodontist did. Now, since I’m in dental school at UNC, I want them to be fixed back to normal. Do you think it’ll work for my case?

    • I am not a fan of short-term orthodontics provided by a non-specialist who has very little training. As a specialist who has been providing comprehensive treatment for 23 years, I can tell you that there are seemingly easy cases that can be turned into bigger problems if the provider just throws braces on the teeth with a straight wire. Why take a chance on your only set of teeth?

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