by R.J. DePaul, Jr., DDS
Six Month Braces™. That’s right Six Month Braces. You are not dreaming. You did read that correctly. Six month braces is not a dream, but it can be the answer to the dreams of many patients.
As the name implies Six Month Braces is an orthodontic treatment that is completed in 6 months. Allow me to clarify; the great majority of cases are completed in a treatment time of 6 months. Some patient’s are actually treated in less time. Some very difficult cases can take more time. Even these difficult cases are often treated in just 8 or 9 months. So treatment is completed in 4 to 9 months with most cases being completed in 6 months.
The Goal of Six Month Braces
Most patients seeking orthodontic treatment have a chief complaint related to the esthetics of their teeth. Although some patients may have complaints related to TMJ problems, headaches, or facial profile concerns, the great majority of patients want to improve their smiles.
The goal of Six Month Braces is to give the patient a great smile. Six month braces is analogous to porcelain veneers, bonding and other cosmetic dentistry procedures. Instead of preparing the teeth and bonding porcelain veneers to them, the teeth are moved orthodontically to their most beautiful position. This is not to say that we do not change the bite because we do, but the main focus of treatment is the anterior cosmetic of the front teeth. This usually solves the chief complaint of the patient and gives the desired result – a great smile.
This patient wanted a great smile and she got it…in 5 months!
How Do Six Month Braces Work?
Six month braces is actually a combination of time tested orthodontic techniques that have been put together in a new and exciting way. Some of the techniques have been used for over 60 years and have been well documented in the orthodontic literature. These techniques were put together in the 1980’s and the technologies to implement them have finally been made available. A key ingredient of the Six Month Braces procedure is the use of high-tech arch wires. These wires exert a light continuous force to gently move the teeth to the desired position.
Will Six Month Braces work on me? My teeth are all crowded together.
The most common chief complaint of patients seeking orthodontic treatment is crowding. Crowded cases are treated very well with Six Month Braces. So how do we gain space to fit all the teeth into the arch? Most crowded cases have large teeth in a small jaw, or arch. In many cases simply rounding out and developing the constricted arch will give you enough room to align the crowded teeth.
In this case simply rounding out the constricted arch gave enough room to alleviate the crowding and give the desired result.
Some more severe cases will require enamel reproximation along with arch development to obtain the desired result. Enamel reproximation is gentle polishing between the teeth and is also called slenderizing or reprox. Repox has a 60 year history in orthodontics. It is a very conservative way to help alleviate crowding, it is painless, it does not increase the incidence of tooth decay or periodontal disease and it can help increase long term stability of the final result by slightly flattening the contact points between the teeth.
The lower teeth had more crowding than the upper so a combination of reprox and rounding out the arch gave the desired result. Total treatment time was 7 ½ months.
Will Six Month Braces Work on Me if I Have Spaces, an Overbite, or an Underbite?
Six month braces will work on almost any type of case. I have personally treated all of the above case types with Six Month Braces. Other case types that can be treated withSix Month Braces include, but are not limited to open bites, deep bites, anterior crossbites, and cases that need orthodontics prior to veneer placement.
This patient had both crowding and an anterior cross bite. This case was completed in 6 months. This can do nothing but improve the self-esteem of this gentleman.
Are There Any Cases that are Not Recommended for Six Month Braces?
There are actually few limitations in regards to Six Month Braces. There are certain cases that I do not recommend be treated with Six Month Braces. Severe TMJ cases are one example. Although there is great controversy on the orthodontic/TMJ connection, I generally do not recommend Six Month Braces in these cases.
Having said that I have relieved the suffering of patients with both TMJ and migraine headaches using Six Month Braces. This just was not the main focus of treatment. This often occurs in women aged approximately 40 years who have lingually tilted incisors (incisors tilted back toward the palate). This usually drives the lower jaw backwards and can cause both TMJ symptoms and migraine headaches.
Another situation where I might not recommend Six Month Braces would be in the case of a patient who is seeking a dramatic profile change. Often times these cases are best treated with surgery anyway. Having said that we will often use Six Month Braces as a sort of “dental camouflage” of their underlying skeletal problems.
One example would be in a case where the patient has large overjet or extremely flared incisors. In these cases we will give the patient the option of comprehensive treatment—perhaps with a surgical component—or camouflage treatment options with Six Month Braces. In the case of a large overjet we would retract the flared incisors to greatly reduce the amount of overjet and to reduce any upper lip flare. By concurrently opening the bite (most of these cases have deep bites) we often can minimize a large chin button. On some of these cases the patient has a small chin and some will consider a chin implant. The end result of the case is that the overjet is GREATLY diminished. The lower jaw may still be posteriorly displaced, but most patients want overbite reduction completed in these cases and we get very nice results. In most cases the patients are very pleased with the results that camouflage treatment can provide and forego orthagnathic surgery.
So as you can see, although there are some limitations to Six Month Braces often times we can still use the technique to get a result that is pleasing both to the patient and the doctor.
This patient had flared upper incisors and a large overjet. She chose to perform camouflage treatment to reduce the flare and give her a great smile. This more complicated case took a bit over 8 months.
Are Six Month Braces More Dangerous Than Regular Braces?
Do They Hurt More?
The answer to both of these questions is a resounding NO!
Six month braces is safe and effective. Six month braces is actually a low force technique. Many people think we just “tighten” the braces like crazy to get the teeth moving. That aggressive treatment would actually slow down tooth movement by crushing the supporting structures around the teeth. This would also cause pain to the patient.
We use wires that exert a light continuous force to move the teeth. This gently moves the teeth in the most comfortable way possible to their desired position. I treat a fair number of relapse cases with Six Month Braces and many patient have said that Six Month Braces is a far more comfortable procedure than was their traditional orthodontic treatment.
I am often asked if Six Month Braces cause any damage to the teeth. The question that is usually asked is: "Do Six Month Braces because more root resorption than regular braces?" Again the answer is NO! Root resorption is one of the most misunderstood aspects of orthodontic treatment and it seems to have the most myths surrounding it.
I have done extensive study in this area of orthodontics so please let me shine some light on the subject. The number one cause of root resorption is individual biology. In other words, you are either highly susceptible to it or you are not. In fact, there are numerous reports of teeth with root resorption on patients who never had orthodontic treatment. There is great debate on the amount force levels and root resorption. Some researchers say there is a direct relation ship between high force and root resorption and others have shown little relationship between the two. There is much more agreement that there is a direct correlation between root resorption and treatment duration.
To say it another way, the longer you wear your braces, the more likely you will have root resorption. So back to the original questions: Do Six Month Braces hurt more than regular braces or do they cause more damage than regular braces? The answer is NO. Six month braces uses low force over a short period of time. This allows for a very comfortable treatment with a very low likelihood of root resorption.
Can Six Month Braces Use Clear Braces to Straighten my Teeth?
Yes, the Six Month Braces technique allows the use of not only metal braces, but clear as well. For those patients who want an “invisible” way to straighten their teeth, Six Month Braces can use lingual braces that are placed behind your teeth. This way you can invisibly straighten your teeth in 6 months and no one will know you are wearing braces.
This patient is wearing braces. They are behind her teeth so no one will see them. Her case will be done in 6 months.
Why Hasn’t my Dentist Heard of Six Month Braces?
Your dentist may not have heard of this technique yet, but he (or she) will in the very near future. I have been getting such nice results that I feel an obligation to teach the Six Month Braces technique to my fellow colleagues. I have written a book that will be released shortly. There will also be other instructional products including video tapes and I plan on giving seminars in the very near future so other Doctor’s can learn the Six Month Braces directly from me. In the mean time please feel free to visit my website www.sixmonthbraces.com This will help answer any additional questions you may have about Six Month Braces.
A dramatic life changing result was obtained in this case in just over 7 months.
Q and A Taken From Archwired's Metal Mouth Forum
Q: How often are adjustments with this technique?
A: Adjustment appointments are usually once a month some times every 6 to 8 weeks, but usually every month.
Q: Are there certain types of cases you can't do with Six Month Braces?
A: My treatment does include correcting open bites, deep bites and cross bites.
Q: Do you use special types of brackets?
A: I can use pretty much any bracket with this technique. I do use self ligating brackets in many instances but it isn't a requirement.
Q: What about extractions?
A: I generally prefer non-extraction treatment, but sometimes extraction can't be avoided.
Q: What about elastics?
A: Elastics are sometimes needed as with any orthodontic procedure.
Six Month Braces™ is a registered trademark of R.J. DePaul, Jr., DDS, Inc. It can NOT be used without the express written permission of the trademark holder. For more information, contact Dr. DePaul at www.sixmonthbraces.com.
Thanks to Dr. DePaul for submitting this article to ArchWired! Publication of this article is for informational purposes only and does not imply endorsement.