Short Term Ortho
Six Month Smiles
Orthodontics is a science that researches and treats teeth and jaw anomalies, aligns teeth and makes a smile more beautiful. Often the final goal for patients using orthodontic services is aesthetically pleasing smile and for many, the quicker it can be achieved the better. It is natural that patients are looking for short term orthodontics and lower price. In the last decades the principal options of teeth straightening were braces or clear aligners. Unfortunately, in Lithuania there is a lack of orthodontic treatment specialists. Besides, nevertheless the patients often refuse a classical orthodontic treatment because of its rather long treatment time continuing up to 18 months and more.
In Aesthetic Dentistry Center VivaDens, short term orthodontics is applied from July, 2011 in collaboration with dental company Six Month Smiles, USA. Treatment lasts for an average of six months. For patients having crooked teeth and not wishing traditional orthodontic treatment, it is far more tooth-preserving alternative than removing teeth tissues for ceramic veneers or direct aesthetic restoration.
In fact short term orthodontics is not a new concept, however Dr. Ryan Swain, a founder of Six Month Smiles method, applies and introduces explicitly such third orthodontic option to patients and largely to general practice dentists.
Can you please explain the specifics of short term orthodontics?
Dr. Ryan Swain: Short term ortho (STO) is cosmetic orthodontics that is primary focused on adults. The goal of STO is to provide patients with a pleasing and symmetrical smile in an average of six months. Most adults with crooked teeth believe that they are stuck with no appealing alternative. STO involves a focus on correcting the main cosmetic complains of patients while using tooth colored brackets and wires. That allows us to overcome the two biggest obstacles for adult patients with malpositioned teeth: long treatment times and metal braces.
Is this technique for adults only? What is the youngest patient you have placed on this system?
Dr. Ryan Swain: Dr. Vince Kokich, a well-respected orthodontist, has said in his seminars, that kids should be treated idealistically and adults should be treated realistically. I share this treatment philosophy. STO is not for patients under the age of 15 and the average age of STO patient is twenty – thirty five years. This can be a great treatment option for some older teenagers, but consultation process should be exceptionally thorough with these patients.
STO allows dentists to help adults and teens who are ashamed of their smiles and who feel that they are stuck. However, STO does not replace traditional orthodontics, but is a viable alternative for patients who are unwilling to proceed with long traditional orthodontic treatment.
How does STO compare to orthodontic treatment with clear aligners?
Dr. Ryan Swain: There are many patients that will not wear braces no matter how clear the braces are or how short the treatment time. I think clear aligner therapy is a good arrow for every dentist to have in his or her quiver.
However STO has many advantages. Teeth alignment with brackets and wires is simply more effective than alignment performed with aligners. Because more tooth movement can be done in shorter amounts of time using brackets, more patients are potential candidates for STO treatment. Clear aligner treatment and STO share aesthetically originated goals but movements like rotations and extrusions are much more predictable with brackets. That provides to dentist better options to have control over clinical cases.
Another advantage is that the costs of the dentist are much lower than are typically associated with clear aligner treatment.
Whether STO causes tooth root resorption?
Dr. Ryan Swain: Root resorption is typically associated with high orthodontic forces being applied over long periods of time. STO involves light forces being applied over short periods of time. STO does not involve the use of heavy forces. Very light nickel titanium wires are used. The short treatment times are due to the fact that we, as clinicians, are not attempting to correct some of the most time consuming changes that are typically associated with traditional orthodontics.
What about occlusion?
Dr. Ryan Swain: The goal of STO is not completely revamp the occlusion. The goal is to provide a significant cosmetic improvement in an average of six months and improve the occlusion as much as possible during that time. In this shorter time period we can do much of the tooth movement that is associated with traditional orthodontics but we are usually not altering the existing Angle class, significantly moving the roots of teeth bucco-lingually or making significant alterations to dental midlines. Altering these items is usually quite time consuming and can involve years of treatment.
As dentists we all know that the large majority of our patients do not have perfect bites yet they are able to function well.
What about retention?
Dr. Ryan Swain: Retention (teeth fixation in new position) is extremely important in any type of orthodontic treatment and must be taken seriously. Regardless of how long an adult patient has been in treatment, lifetime retention with fixed (small wire) or removable retainers (retainer appliances or clear trays) should be provided to ensure longevity of the result. It does not matter whether teeth were aligned with brackets, clear aligners or spring retainers, adequate retention should be provided and the patient should be educated effectively. Six Month Smiles system can provide lingual retainers that are pre-fabricated and bonded to the teeth indirectly with custom bonding trays. I am a proponent of fixed retention because it essentially removes the issue of patient compliance.
What does the future look like for Six Month Smiles system?
Dr. Ryan Swain: The demand for reasonable and focused orthodontic treatment is enormous. Adults who are uninterested in traditional braces have not typically been catered to in the past. This population is extremely large and looking for a reasonable solution to their problem. Offering them a conservative (teeth preserving), fast and effective way to improve their smile is an excellent offer. That is the advantage of this procedure and treatment plan. It is down to earth way to provide our patients with great service and grow our practices at the same time. The magic combination of short treatment times and clear braces is powerful and attractive for people who thought they were stuck with crooked teeth.
VivaDens prepared in accordance with Journal „dentaltown®“, Jan 2010, Vol 11, Issue 1