Accelerated orthodontics is becoming ever more popular in the treatment of adult dental patients who display crooked teeth or less than flattering smiles. The name alone is appealing to patients ‘Accelerated Orthodontics‘ already suggests to the patient that they will be guaranteed a speedier course of treatment, but is that a good enough reason to take up this particular treatment option? Let’s consider the pros and cons.
Indeed, as the name suggests ‘Accelerated Orthodontics’ delivers just that. With regular orthodontic treatment as in those that involve the wear of fixed brackets on the front of the teeth, the orthodontist hopes to achieve favorable movement of the teeth. On occasion though this movement is not possible since the teeth in question may be too numerous or too wide to comfortably exist in their desired position. With regular orthodontics this would leave the orthodontist no choice but to extract one or a number of teeth to make room. The manoeuvrings of the remaining teeth to fill the gap left behind is what takes up a considerable portion of time. ‘Accelerated Orthodontics’ cuts corners (so to speak) by having the dentist gently shave away tooth material form the edges of all the teeth in the arch creating a total space equivalent or close to that of a single tooth extraction. This allows for an ‘Accelerated Orthodontic’ treatment time of six to eight months, rather than the two years or more that the average adult orthodontic patient may have to endure
The ‘Accelerated’ procedure also gives the added advantage of going relatively unnoticed by friends and co-workers as there are no unsightly gaps and any fixed orthodontic wear (such as the small metal brackets) can be fitted to the backs of the teeth rather than to the front.
Firstly, there is the issue of expense. The professionals capable of providing this service are not located within every dental practice – they are specially trained and will charge accordingly. Also, since they are specialists it is more likely that will be located at practices and surgeries based in the larger cities (also leading to an increased cost in treatment through additional fuel costs and in some cases time off from work).
Some patients may complain of a mild itching or in some cases a burning sensation – this is not uncommon. The teeth are being moved at a far faster rate than normal and it is not just a process of moving a tooth through gum tissue, there is also the movement of the tooth root through the underlying bone – some unpleasantness of sensation is bound to be expected.
The stability of any results must also be brought into question. As the roots of the teeth are being pushed and pulled through bone far more quickly the osteoclastic/osteoblastic action may not be as thorough as usual. In essence as teeth are moved the roots plough through the bone to a new position so, bone has to be lost for the teeth to take up that new position and new bone is laid down to fill the space where the root used to be. ‘Accelerated Orthodontics’ causes this process to happen far more quickly and it is possible that the newly laid down bone makes it more likely for the teeth to try to revert back to their old positions if retainer wear is not maintained after the course of fixed treatment.
The patient’s role is key then, not just in terms of retainer wear but also from the point their general dental hygiene. The edges of the teeth are now roughened and therefore more likely to be affected by decay or tartar formation than before. Also, the enamel, the tooth’s protective coating has been shaved away; this can make the tooth more brittle and more prone to attack from bacteria and staining from certain food stuffs and cigarette smoke.
‘Accelerated Orthodontics’ is also fairly new. This means that very little research has been done in the over all results and any long-term effects that this particular branch of treatment might bring. With this lack of research insurance companies in the US are less inclined to cover such treatments. So, be sure to check before committing to any treatment.