Short term Orthodontics – what is it?
Short Term Orthodontics is a relatively new term generally applied to Orthodontic Treatments which, for any number of reasons differ from that offered by a traditional course of “Full Orthodontics” . It can also be described as Short Duration Orthodontics or Cosmetic Orthodontics, but one could also choose to see it more as “Patient Focussed Orthodontics”, as it is intended to focus more on the needs and wishes of the patient, rather than the frequently more idealogical aims and goals of an Orthodontist. Certainly, BOTH of these things need to be taken into consideration, and all the pros and cons of each solution fully discussed before choosing.
In general, teeth treated during this short term orthodontics are your front and side teeth, and the back teeth are generally left in their original position. The aim is to straighten and align teeth, in much the same way as in “Full” orthodontics, whilst accepting that the result, whilst being perfectly acceptable to the patient, may not conform to some of the more complete goals obtainable by undergoing “full” Orthodontics. This can be completed by using brackets and wires on teeth (SMARTbrace, QuickStraightTeeth, Fastbraces and Six-Month Smiles are all examples of systems that may be used to this end), or by using clear aligners to move the teeth (Invisalign Lite for example).
At Brixworth Dental Care, in addition to “Full Orthodontic Fixed Braces”, we are accredited in Invisalign ( Diamond Provider) and Six Month Smiles, as well as being one of only four practices in the UK to offer the totally bespoke STO solution, SmartBrace.
All of these treatments are usually most suitable for adults who want to improve the appearance of the teeth that people see the most, but are not too concerned about moving all the teeth into the “perfect” relationship to each other. The treatment times are generally 6 to 12 months, compared to perhaps double that for conventional treatments.
For many years, patients who wanted cosmetic treatment to deal with crowding in their front 8 teeth would have been treated by placing veneers and crowns. Frequently, healthy tooth structure would be removed from the already crowded teeth, to enable the placement of porcelain or composite covers that then gave the appearance that the teeth were straight. Often the teeth that were most out of line would require significant drilling, and this could potentially cause problems with the nerve of the tooth.
More recently, in line with the general move of dentistry towards minimally invasive treatments, it is now generally recognised that it is desirable to try to keep as much healthy tooth tissue as possible. As such, it is now much more appropriate to move these crowded teeth so that they are well aligned with each other, thus at least reducing the amount of restorative dentistry provided later, or in many cases eliminate it altogether This new approach together with non-invasive whitening of the teeth frequently allows us to achieve the great result that the patient wanted, in lees time and at a lower cost than previously possible. In other situations, it may be appropriate to ‘bond’ unnoticeable white filling material to the teeth to repair areas of wear from when the teeth were crowded, and to reshape them. It may also be appropriate to veneer or crown the teeth following orthodontic treatment, but as the teeth have by this time been moved into a pleasing alignment with each other, minimal or even no preparation is then required, and so healthy tooth structure is preserved.
Adults choosing to straighten their teeth often choose Short Term Orthodontics to achieve great, pleasing results in a time frame that suits them and their lifestyle.
As always, all other treatment options should be taken in to consideration, including of course the option of “doing nothing”, prior to embarking on a chosen path.
Certain compromises in treatment objectives may or may not result in different degrees of stability at the end of treatment, and retention requirements must be fully discussed from the outset.