The Pros and Cons of 6 Months Smiles

By July 17, 2017 February 26th, 2019 Orthodontics
The Pros and Cons of 6 Months Smiles

Our Tri-cities, TN adult Invisalign and braces patients are typically most concerned with how long treatment will last, how much it will cost and whether they can straighten their teeth discreetly. We know the majority of grown-ups have busy lives, financial commitments and a desire for an esthetic option. We totally get why programs like Six Month Smiles are appealing. Who wouldn’t want a stellar smile at warp speed? However, before you get your hopes up and shell out your hard-earned money, let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of Six Month Smiles.

The Pros of Six Month Smiles

First things first, what is Six Month Smiles? The system bills itself as an affordable way for people ages 16 and up to straighten their teeth in about six months with clear braces. Treatment is performed by a general dentist as opposed to an orthodontist, in most cases. Your dentist takes impressions of your teeth, sends them to Six Month Smiles and then the company mails them a “patient tray kit.” The kit contains brackets that have been positioned by a technician and set in bonding trays so they’re ready to go for the dentist. It also contains all of the other materials needed like the wires and ligatures. Here are the pros:

  • You wear clear braces.
  • The cost of Six Month Smiles typically ranges from $3,000 to $4,500, which can be a bit less expensive than other options (we’ll also cover this in the cons though).
  • There are fewer office visits since it’s designed for short-term treatment.
  • It could be an option for patients with extremely milds cases that just need a simple cosmetic update.
  • The processing time is relatively quick and the dentist receives the kit within five days of sending off the scans or impressions.

The Cons of Six Month Smiles

Those 6 Month Smiles before and after pictures on the company’s site look fantastic, however, you’ll probably notice that none of the people featured in the success stories had significant problems with their teeth prior to treatment. Does Six Month Smiles work? In a very limited number of cases, such as with a patient who has a perfect bite in the back and very slight spacing or crowding of the front teeth only, it might. For most individuals, the program probably won’t be a viable option. Let’s get more in depth with the Six Month Smiles problems:

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  • While the company says they have this amazing design, the braces they use are regular clear braces and an orthodontist will actually have access to newer, more cutting-edge materials, technology and treatment options.
  • The sole reason the average treatment time is six months is because it only addresses cosmetic concerns. The braces just move the teeth that are visible when you smile, namely your top front teeth. It even notes this in the fine print.
  • Six Month Smiles doesn’t fix your bite (how the upper and lower teeth fit together) or the alignment of your jaws. Only moving certain teeth can actually make your bite worse, which can lead to problems with chewing and speaking and result in permanent, unwanted changes in your facial structure. If this happens, more extensive treatment will be necessary down the road.
  • The cost of 6 Month Smiles isn’t drastically different from that of traditional orthodontic treatment. The price could potentially be slightly less because you’re only wearing braces for six months and correcting the front teeth.
  • In the Six Month Smiles vs. Invisalign debate, we have to mention that Invisalign is significantly less noticeable as the aligners are made from smooth, flexible plastic that’s molded to fit your mouth precisely. Lingual braces aren’t visible at all when you smile and regular clear braces will be the same. If you’re in the market for the most discreet orthodontic treatment, Six Months Smiles isn’t it.
  • The program is for individuals ages 16 and up. This leaves out a huge segment of patients.
  • Yes, as a board-certified orthodontist, Dr. Sturgill might be a little biased but becoming a Six Month Smiles provider involves simply paying a fee and attending a two-day seminar. The dentist then gets a box that contains the brackets already in their specific places determined by Six Month Smiles technicians. These techs never see your mouth in person and aren’t dentists or orthodontists themselves but employees trained in “short term ortho” bracket placement. Considering the importance of your smile, going to someone who will be treating you using a kit, which has been put together by a random person, is not in your best interest.
  • We love dentists and we’re not knocking them. Orthodontists are dentists after all. Yet, general dentists are specialists in your overall oral health care. Orthodontists are specialists in diagnosing and treating malocclusion, or an improper bite. It’s like going to a podiatrist for a heart condition. Sure, a cardiologist and podiatrist both went to medical school but their specialties are different. Receiving the correct diagnosis and determining the underlying cause of your malocclusion is the key to successful treatment and the braces, six months or not, are only as effective as the doctor using them.

The Bottom Line

A certified specialist in orthodontics completes two or three more years of specialty training in an orthodontic residency program after graduating dental school. They learn about the intricacies of straightening the teeth and aligning the bite and gain extensive experience in working with patients before branching out on their own. Dr. Sturgill took things a step further by getting board certified. He spent hundreds of additional hours fulfilling the requirements to demonstrate he was able to offer the highest level of care possible and earned the distinction of becoming a Diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics. He now teaches aspiring orthodontists. If learning to straighten teeth could really be achieved in two days, these rigorous educational and experience requirements wouldn’t exist!

As we mentioned, in rare cases, Six Month Smiles could be effective for fixing very slight, cosmetic imperfections. Most likely it would be a realistic option for a person who had orthodontic treatment in the past, got lax about wearing their retainer and is just seeking a touchup. For people who never had orthodontic treatment before (or even those who did have it but experienced more tooth movement than they think), there is a possibility that there is an imperceptible issue with the bite and shifting the front teeth will throw everything off balance no matter how minor the case appears at first glance. An orthodontist has the training to see this and plan your treatment accordingly. We have patients at Sturgill Orthodontics whose treatment only lasts six months. Not everyone needs braces for a year or two. Yet, the difference is, it’s completely customized to each patient’s needs and tooth movement is monitored by an expert.

If a treatment sounds too good to be true, unfortunately, it probably is. Straightening teeth is a lot more complex than it seems, hence the years and years of training an orthodontist completes. The risks outweigh the benefits in the case of Six Month Smiles. For an expert diagnosis and the most effective, efficient and esthetically appealing treatment options, schedule your free consultation at Sturgill Orthodontics. We offer a variety of different types of braces as well as Invisalign in Tri-cities, TN. We can help you achieve a gorgeous smile in a way that fits your budget and lifestyle without compromising on quality and expertise.