The beauty of short-term orthodontics

It’s a common misconception that all orthodontic treatment takes years. While in some cases, that’s definitely true, often much shorter periods are required to significantly improve dental alignment and other orthodontic issues.

What does the term ‘short-term orthodontics’ mean?

As the name suggests, short-term orthodontics involves a short course of orthodontic therapy. Predominately, short-term orthodontics is used for adult treatment where there’s no necessity to change occlusions. Short-term orthodontics is appropriate for situations where a practitioner is looking to improve the cosmetic alignment of the patient’s anterior teeth.

 

What makes short-term orthodontic treatment so much more attractive to patients?

Most adults have barriers which dissuade them from going down the path of conventional orthodontic treatment. The first is the time involved, which in the case of conventional orthodontic treatment generally involves two or more years.

Another barrier to conventional orthodontic treatment is appearance. For instance, conventional orthodontic treatment usually requires the application of traditional metal braces, which is unappealing for most adults.

Cost often provides a barrier to traditional orthodontic treatment too, especially where it’s being incurred over a number of years and has a high up front deposit required.

In addition, traditional orthodontic treatment can often involve extractions or jaw surgery, which most adult patients are reluctant to undergo, except where strictly necessary.

Considering these barriers, short-term orthodontics, where appropriate, have obvious appeal.

 

Veneers versus short-term orthodontics

Frequently, adult patients are only after a cosmetic correction of the front teeth. In the past, a ‘quick fix’ dental option for achieving that involved going down the veneer path. These days, we’re aware that veneers are not only costly, they’re destructive. Because of gingival margin change, most veneers have a life span of approximately 10 to 15 years, after which time they need to be changed over, and every time a veneer is changed, more tooth surface is destroyed.

In contrast, short-term orthodontics, like the Smilefast system, see teeth correctly aligned in six to nine months, thereby improving their appearance in a non-destructive way. In the case of the Smilefast system, clear braces and clear aesthetic wires are used for approximately six to nine months to significantly improve the alignment of teeth.

 

The lifespan of orthodontic options

The suggestion that orthodontic treatment is not permanent is correct to a degree. Orthodontic problems may return in younger patients whose jaws will grow rapidly However, in the case of short-term orthodontics, we’re dealing mainly with adults who have finished most of their growth.

Admittedly, even so, teeth can move slightly as the jawbone changes throughout life.

The response to that is to place bonded retainers on the lingual surface of a patient’s upper and lower teeth, and the use of a removable, clear retainer at night time, both of which provide good insurance against teeth shifting. That gives the best treatment outcome and the best aesthetic outcome for the patient.