How short-term orthodontics can enhance multiple aspects of general dental practice production

June 15, 2016
Gary M. Radz, DDS, explains how general dentists can provide a sought-after service, boost their revenue, and elevate the excellent conservative dentistry they perform with Six Month Smiles short-term orthodontics.

Gary M. Radz, DDS

Dentistry has experienced an evolution in the functionally and cosmetically driven treatments that enable general dentists to expand the care and services they offer.

We now can provide such in-demand dentistry as in-office tooth whitening with less sensitivity and greater efficacy, as well as esthetic and durable same-day all-ceramic restorations for posterior and anterior indications. With proper training and empowerment of the entire dental team, we can also offer patients more esthetic and convenient orthodontic options compared to traditional braces.1

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Clear aligners are among these options, but compliance issues and length of treatment may deter some patients from undergoing this type of treatment.2 A short-term orthodontic option such as Six Month Smiles, which combines the ease of use of aligners with the reliability of braces, can also be added to a practice's service mix.3

Realizing practice and treatment efficiency

Six Month Smiles treatment is a practical and systematic esthetic braces system that can be added easily to general practices. Cases are set up to make treatment easy, efficient, practical, and profitable. A centralized processing center precisely positions unique Lucid-Lok brackets on models of the patient's teeth, which are created based on either traditional vinyl polysiloxane (VPS) or digital impressions. With the brackets in place, according to the specific short-term orthodontic treatment goals for the individual patient, these models are used to fabricate custom bonding trays that guide and simplify precise intraoral bracket placement. With the one-step seating system, brackets can be placed on an entire arch in just minutes.4

When placing Six Month Smiles short-term braces, dentists don't need to apply brackets tooth by tooth, saving chair time for themselves and their patients. They simply etch the teeth surfaces, apply adhesive, and seat the tray intraorally. When the brackets are secure, the tray is removed, and the unique shape-memory NiTi wires that work with the prepositioned brackets are attached.5

These wires are adjusted and changed every four weeks during recall appointments; no bending is required.4 Depending on the extent of tooth movement required for the desired esthetic result, treatment can range from four to nine months.

Generating new patients and maximizing referrals

Once general dentists are trained in properly providing Six Month Smiles treatment and begin marketing it within their practices, they'll likely experience an increase in patients who are interested in straightening their smiles. Short-term orthodontics can predictably achieve a wide range of tooth movements, including extrusions, rotations, intrusions, and tipping. Most adults with malpositioned teeth are candidates.6 Treating these patients with short-term orthodontics and helping them realize their goals at a more affordable cost than aligners or conventional braces creates a win for ourselves as well, since patients who are happy with their smiles are more likely to refer friends and family.

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As with any dental treatment, success is predicated on careful case selection, and understanding and managing patient expectations. If a patient's desired outcome requires changing angle class, then short-term orthodontic treatment is not appropriate. Comprehensive orthodontics and a referral to an orthodontist are ideal. When handled properly, the referral becomes a win for the orthodontist too.

Interestingly, dentists who provide and properly discuss Six Month Smiles actually refer more patients to orthodontists than before they offered this treatment option. Since offering this cosmetically focused orthodontic treatment, we have screened an average of 200 potential orthodontic cases each year, many of which must be referred to orthodontists to accommodate patient expectations.

Boosting the bottom line

Although more patients are willing to invest in their smiles, many are still reluctant to commit to more expensive cosmetic procedures, whether veneers or full-mouth makeovers. Even when dentistry is needed to maintain or reestablish their oral health, patients may not perceive value in those procedures or what they may have to endure to achieve the desired result.

When treatment is more affordable and requires less time than patients expect, they'll be more likely to say "yes" to get the smile that will change their life. That translates to more revenue for the practice. Even if a general dentist performs only one Six Month Smiles case per month-billed out at $4,000 to the patient-that equates to more than $45,000 per year in revenue.

Enhancing restorative case acceptance and outcomes

Short-term orthodontics focuses on moving teeth efficiently into the appropriate position to create a cosmetic change-rather than correcting every imperfection-to improve smile symmetry and tooth position.4,6 This makes it ideal for patients who desire and/or require restorative treatments, but whose malalignment might otherwise necessitate aggressive tooth preparations and/or compromise restoration longevity. For dentists who provide whitening, veneers, and other cosmetic treatments, short-term orthodontics can be a prerequisite or complement for those procedures to establish a foundation for success.7


With Six Month Smiles short-term orthodontics, general dentists can provide a sought-after service, boost their revenue, and elevate the excellent conservative dentistry they perform. Delighted patients can realize the smile of their dreams in less time than they'd imagined, and referrals they direct to the practice lead to increased productivity and profitability.

Ample opportunities for thorough training throughout the year and across the country, as well as ongoing support online via the Six Month Smiles Forum, ensure that proper techniques are followed. Mentors and instructors provide guidance and direction to dentists when planning cases for patients with specific treatment objectives. Training fees are minimal, as are costs associated with instruments and supplies for beginning to submit cases.


1. Ren Y, Boxum C, Sandham A. Patients' perceptions, treatment need, and complexity of orthodontic re-treatment. Eur J Orthod. 2009;31(2):189-195. doi: 10.1093/ejo/cjn096.

2. Kravitz ND, Kusnoto B, BeGole E, Obrez A, Agran B. How well does Invisalign work? A prospective clinical study evaluating the efficacy of tooth movement with Invisalign. Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop. 2009;135(1):27-35.

3. Proffit WR, Fields HW. Contemporary Orthodontics. 3rd ed. St. Louis, MO: Mosby; 2000:616.

4. Swain R. The Six Month Smiles System. Creating dramatic changes in tooth position and smile symmetry with a novel orthodontic system. Inside Dentistry. 2012;8(4).

5. Mullins WS, Bagby MD, Norman TL. Mechanical behavior of thermo-responsive orthodontic archwires. Dent Mater. 1996;12(5):308-314.

6. Nauman A. Patient-friendly short-term orthodontics. Dentistry Today. 2013;32(3):106, 108-109.

7. Chiche GJ, Pinault A. Smile rejuvenation: a methodic approach. Pract Periodontics Aesthet Dent. 1993;5(3):37-44; quiz 44.

Gary M. Radz, DDS, is in private practice in Denver, Colorado. He is a founding member of the Catapult Group and director of industry relations for SmileSource. He is known internationally for his experience in cosmetic dentistry. A frequent lecturer, he has presented at domestic and international dental meetings. Contact him at [email protected].

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