Can we speed up orthodontic treatment?
Braces are a fantastic way to straighten crooked teeth, but sadly they have never been (and never will be) a quick fix. Treatment times vary patient to patient – but you’ll most likely be looking at months, or sometimes years in braces.
Luckily, many patients appreciate that good things come to those who wait, and they don’t let the timeframe put them off. While others choose quick alternatives such as veneers, regardless of what’s best in the long run, or even put off treatment entirely.
The demand for faster orthodontic treatment has been met with several ‘solutions’ from manufacturers and orthodontists over the years, but how well do they work?
While ‘short term’ braces can straighten teeth in a relatively quick time frame, around three to six months, there is little evidence to suggest that they’re moving teeth faster than traditional fixed braces. There’s a simple explanation for the comparatively quick transformation though. The braces are designed to treat ‘cosmetic’ problems, so they’re simply aligning the front teeth and don’t consider the way they bite together or function.
Self-ligating braces use clips instead of elastic bands to hold the brace’s wire in position, which supposedly creates less friction and faster tooth movement. Currently, there isn’t enough scientific evidence to support this claim. Nonetheless self-ligating braces are an effective way to straighten teeth and can provide other benefits, for example they’re more resistant to stains than braces with elastic bands, and easier to keep clean.
Micropulse devices claim to speed up treatment and improve comfort by using small vibrations to
stimulate bone modelling. They fit over your teeth and braces, much like a gumshield, and need to be worn for a short period every day. While there is some anecdotal evidence that these devices can speed up treatment, opinion is divided among orthodontists and there’s a call for more research from independent parties.
Photobiomodulation involves shining a low-level light onto the teeth and gums to increase blood flow and facilitate tooth movement. Currently there is a lack of evidence to support this technique, and the validity of the studies undertaken to date is questionable.
Corticotomy and piezocision are two surgical treatments that can allegedly help teeth to move faster. Again the research is not conclusive, and many orthodontists see the practice as unethical and unnecessarily invasive.
We would urge anyone looking to speed up their orthodontic treatment to carefully weigh up the potential pros and cons. Faster results aren’t guaranteed, so is it worth the cost or commitment?
In our experience, most patients become so accustomed to their brace that a few extra months isn’t a
problem. You could also consider lingual braces, which are fitted behind the teeth where they’ll be hidden from sight throughout your treatment.