by Todd K. Rowe , DMD
The popularity of ArchWired.com attests to the growing interest among adults to learn about and compare the latest orthodontic treatment options to straighten teeth, correct bites or both. One orthodontic advancement that stands out and offers adult patients distinct benefits is the Damon System.
Over the past 4-5 years we have had an opportunity to treat and evaluate several hundred patients using nine different bracket systems, including traditional braces and self-ligating brackets (which do not require elastic o-rings). We quickly discovered the efficiency advantages of self-ligated brackets for our patients and our practice operations. Of the many systems we have used, Damon’s concept of passive self-ligation now constitutes over 95% of our adult and adolescent patients over age 13.
With the Damon System, I am able to move teeth faster and more comfortably while eliminating tooth extractions and/or jaw surgery in the vast majority of cases. Most importantly, my patients are delighted by the facial transformation that I’m able to achieve as a result of using the system.
This article presents an overview of how the system works and its benefits, along with case studies of actual patients from my practice whose treatment and results were dramatically enhanced because of orthodontic treatment with the Damon System.
The Science Behind the System
Most types of traditional braces use steel or elastic ligatures to hold the arch wires in place. Those ligatures create friction and binding, slowing tooth movement, requiring higher forces to move teeth and resulting in more patient discomfort. The Damon System combines self-ligating brackets without o-rings, technologically advanced shape memory wire and a biologically sensible treatment protocol. Without the friction of ligatures, the Damon System uses very gentle pressure to move teeth quickly and comfortably to their desired positions. The initial wires apply up to 75% less force than the NiTi (nickel-titanium memory wires) we were using for traditional brackets a few years ago. Lighter wire forces reduce patient discomfort and less friction allows more of the force to be applied toward moving the teeth as desired, rather than being used to overcome the friction of the elastic ties to the arch wire/bracket.
We can see patients less frequently and achieve more tooth movement with each wire activation between visits. On average, I am able to treat patients in 18 – 20 months, which is approximately six months faster than with traditional technologies we have used. Patients begin to see substantial improvements in as little as 10 weeks of treatment. The latest CT scan research confirms that the Damon System’s gentle pressure can stimulate broad, natural arch development, virtually eliminating the need to extract permanent teeth to make space or undergo surgery for TMJ*. What’s more, our adult patients are not required to wear headgear or use rapid palatal expanders with the Damon System. When patients keep their full set of teeth, it provides the structural foundation to support long-lasting facial beauty.
I have found that an emphasis on enhanced facial aesthetics – and not just straight teeth – is one of the major reasons why more and more of my adult patients are choosing to undergo treatment. In fact, one of the key benefits that many of my patients are excited to see as they undergo treatment is a “bracelift” effect – where a broad arch, better facial balance, smoother cheek contours and the elimination of dark triangles within smile contours produce a more youthful face overall.
Another benefit that patients appreciate is the reduced number of office visits over the course of their treatment, typically 8 – 10 fewer visits per patient. That’s because the wires do not need to be adjusted as frequently. As busy as we all are, fewer appointments are always a good thing!
The following case studies of two of my patients illustrate the minimally invasive and speedy benefits of the Damon System, even when applied to complex cases.
Case Study – Judy
Judy came to me with a deep overbite and extreme crowding, including overlapping of her front teeth. Traditional braces would have required up to 2 ½ years of treatment and likely included extractions of premolars to create space for overall alignment. She had been considering braces for years but had continually put it off. When we discussed the benefits of the Damon System to treat her, she readily agreed that it would be the best option for her. After 21 months her teeth and smile were transformed. Plus, throughout treatment, she was delighted that she felt virtually no pain. Judy loved coming to each appointment to check our progress photos and was amazed to see the noticeable changes that occurred between each visit. She is thrilled with her new brighter and fuller smile.
Judy's face and teeth, before (left) and after (right) treatment with Damon Brackets
Case Study – Lisa
Lisa came to me with a severe open bite, jaw pain and jaw clicking. After consulting with our local oral surgeons, it was recommended that she have surgery to break her jaw, a procedure that requires hospitalization, screws to hold the bones together, a restricted diet, up to three years of braces treatment and costs up to $20,000! With the Damon System we were able to avoid jaw surgery. We elected to remove first premolars and with light Damon force mechanics were able to close her open bite and improve her jaw balance in 23 months. While we did remove teeth for Lisa (only required in less than 10% of the time with my patients) we avoided a much more invasive surgical procedure – a trade off she is quite happy she made.
Lisa's face and teeth, before (left) and after (right) treatment with Damon Brackets
To summarize, both patients were treated faster, more comfortably, with fewer appointments and less invasively than they anticipated. Both readily admit the results exceeded their expectations. Overall, since using the Damon System, I have more than doubled the number of adult patients in my practice. Previously, I used to dislike treating adult patients because treatments took too long and the results were unpredictable. Now, I have learned to count on smoother, more consistent treatment with better results than ever.
Dr. Todd K. Rowe is a board certified orthodontist, receiving his DMD degree from the Harvard School of Dental Medicine and his MS in Orthodontics from the University of Michigan. He is the president-elect of the Massachusetts Association of Orthodontics. Dr. Rowe maintains a private practice in Leominster, Massachusetts.
You can reach Dr. Rowe's practice by calling (978) 537-6100 or visiting www.drtoddrowe.com
For more information about the Damon Bracket System, visit the Ormco website at www.damonbraces.com.
*Damon, D.: "Three keys to non-extraction therapy," Ortho Tribune (2006): 13-14.