6 Month Braces | A Case Study
In February 2014 I began my treatment of Powerprox Six Month Braces, train track braces that are designed to be discreet and align teeth in the space of just a few months.
My two front teeth naturally sit in a crossed position and during my teens I had the four back molars pulled out to make room for a reshuffle and also wore a removable brace. The brace came with a metal key that had to be inserted to adjust it every so often, thus widening my jaw and creating space. My teeth were uncrossed after a few months of wearing the brace and that was that. My bottom set of teeth had always been a little crooked but that wasn't severe enough to even be addressed at the time as this was a free treatment on the National Health. There were no plastic retainers to wear at night and the teeth were just left to their own devices which is why, over the period of a decade, they managed to jig their way back to where they had started. Although fairly minor it bugged me for such a long time that I decided I had to do something about it.
Initially I had thought I would just do the top set of teeth and then perhaps do the bottom set at a later date to spread the cost but my dentist advised me that it is better to do both sets as you want to move the teeth as one entity and make sure they are fitting together correctly. In fact it was more economical to do them at the same time rather than start the whole process afresh further down the line (although this may not be the same for all dentists).
When choosing a brace treatment, what would you base your decision on?
How The Brace Treatment Works
The Powerprox Six Month Braces, Six Month Smile and other similar products all work in the same kind of way using high tech archwires and applying constant pressure to the teeth. The wires have shape memory meaning that they have the ability to return to their original shape after bending; moving your teeth as they do so. These types of treatments are what is known as 'Short Term Orthodontics' (STO) and focus on aligning the teeth that are on show when you smile. They are also sometimes called 'Cosmetically Focused Limited Outcome Orthodontics' as they don’t address issues to do with the bite, such as an overbite. The treatment is completed in a shorter period of time because of this.
Choosing A Dentist
Selecting the right dentist and surgery to get you through your treatment as smoothly as possible is a crucial part of the process. When choosing a dentist it is essential that you feel as at ease as possible and relaxed enough to be able to communicate exactly what you want.
Essential Brace Kit:
- Wax to smooth out any irritating points on the brace.
- Painkillers to ease irritation and tenderness.
- Ulcer gel such as Bonjela or Iglu.
The Treatment Stages
Stage One: Impressions and photographs
Step one is to take impressions of upper and lower teeth and take photographs every which way, inside and out so that the experts can prepare your bespoke treatment.
Stage Two: Fit the Brace
This appointment takes around 2 hours as every bracket has to be meticulously cemented to each tooth and the first wire put in place.
Stage Three: Settling Phase
It takes a good couple of weeks to get used to the braces. Your mouth is sore and prone to ulcers while it gets used to the alien objects and your teeth feel tender as the movement begins straightaway. After a few days I wondered if I would ever be able to eat again! Then a few more days passed and it turned out that I wasn't going to starve to death after all and was able to eat without much discomfort.
With any type of train tracks you have to be fastidious in your cleaning of them. Despite ordinarily, without brace, having an effective oral hygiene routine, I struggled to keep my teeth in pristine condition. In fact in the early days I was actually quite useless. Once I got to grips with using a couple of different sized interdental brushes to clean around the brackets and a little proddy stick thing for the gums I coped a little better.
How Train Track Braces Are Fitted
Stage Four: Wire Change and Movement
I had 3 different wires in total that were changed at one month intervals with the final one staying in for the remainder of the course.
Power chains are also sometimes used during treatment to assist with movement. These are elastic ligatures that attach to parts of the brace and are often used to close a gap or for extra force.
The jigging around of teeth happens remarkably fast. A gap can be closed up while the dentist makes adjustments there and then or within just a few days the teeth will shuffle into position. However, the pushing up/down and the twisting and swivelling of teeth is a longer process. The duration of your treatment will depend on how much teeth turning is required and how patient you are to keep on going. As it was, I wasn’t worried by one of my teeth that needed turning slightly and I didn’t want my upper teeth pushed too far upwards into their supposed correct alignment as I thought it may change my slightly goofy character. So once the primary straightening was done and the upper teeth had been pushed up a few millimetres I was more than ready to have the braces removed. This was around the 6 month mark.
Stage Five: Brace Removal
About a week before the brace was removed, moulds are taken for the temporary retainers. This has to be done over the top of the brackets and then the lab files down the mould so you get something resembling your teeth. You have to wear the temporary one whilst awaiting the permanent set as without the brace on the teeth will start rearranging themselves immediately.
The brace removal appointment takes a good couple of hours. The brackets are taken off and the cement is painstakingly removed from each tooth and your teeth are given a good polish to make them look shiny and new, ready for the big reveal. I also had a little bit of filing done on the bottom edge of one of my front teeth as I had a chip in it from biting into a fork a few years back so my dentist evened it out a little for me. Once she had finished filing and polishing, hey presto, the mirror comes out and all is revealed! I have to say I was really chuffed. Almost immediately I adjusted to not having train tracks in my mouth although I did then have to readjust to the plastic retainers. For the rest of day, and possibly week, I kept on doing teethy smiles and grinning at myself whenever I passed a mirror, which happened to be often!! It was annoying having the plastic retainers in because you do want to show off your new smile and smiling with retainers isn’t quite the same! But this is a necessity that has to be put up with for just a little while longer and the payoff is definitely worth the effort.
- Teeth move quickly.
- You don’t have to worry about keeping your brace in or losing it.
- The cost compared to other orthodontic treatment is quite reasonable, around £2,500 (about $4,000) upwards for both top and bottom teeth depending on where you go.
- The first week or two you will be in some discomfort and after each adjustment there will be a few days of putting up with tender teeth.
- Eating isn’t quite as much fun as normal and digging out and cleaning the brace is a bit of a chore.
- If you have white elastics around the brace these will stain if you eat foods such as curry, spaghetti, Chinese or anything with strong colouring. Each time you visit the dentist these will be replaced so you either have to save those sorts of foods for a day or so before your appointments or face having yellow looking teeth! In hindsight I perhaps would have gone for metal braces as I have seen a few people with clear/white train tracks and it often gives the appearance of having nicotine stained teeth as the braces themselves are pretty discreet. It is hard to tell which would be better unless you have experienced both though as I may have hated a mouth full of gleaming metal.
Ask an Expert
- My local dentist has said she is happy to answer any 6 month brace queries: Tweet Dr Lucy for advice or see the end of this article for other useful brace related and dental websites.
Was it Worth It?
It was most definitely worth the effort and cost. The time went so quickly and I am so incredibly pleased with the results. I do have to endure another 6 months of wearing the plastic retainers during the day and night but I have already done 3 months’ worth and it really isn't much of a hardship at all. After the 6 months is up you have to wear the retainers every night for 18 months and then reduce it from there but I have gotten used to wearing them now and, although I will be pleased not to wear them during the day, wearing them at night will be a breeze. There was another option to have a permanent bracket fixed to the back of the teeth and have a retainer to wear at night but I didn't want to go down that route. I do know a couple of people that have them fitted and have said that they don’t even notice they are there but for me I didn't want any more alien parts in my mouth making my teeth harder to clean so (against my dentists advice) I opted for the removable retainers with the determination to wear them properly! The motivation to make sure I wear them near enough all day and night is huge when I know the cost is wonky teeth again! Having been warned that it could take just a matter of hours before my teeth start moving in the early days following the end of treatment, I have been pretty good so far!
Which type of braces would you choose?
American Dental Association - Braces
The British Dental Health Foundation - Orthodontic Treatments.
Powerprox Six Month Braces Website
Six Month Smiles Cosmetic Braces Website
Cosmetic and General Dentist - Dr Lucy Nichols, New Malden