One question that my patients sometimes ask is, “Can I speed up my orthodontic treatment?” For example, a patient is planning to get married or is preparing to apply for their dream job. In these cases, the patient may want to accelerate their treatment. The first and most important factor in keeping treatment moving on time is to commit to coming to all appointments and, in the case of Invisalign, wearing the aligners for the time specified in the treatment plan. Fortunately, beyond that there are some safe, effective ways to speed up orthodontic treatment.
The first way that orthodontic treatment can be accelerated is through the use of low-level laser. With this method, a very low intensity medical laser is used to recruit cells that are responsible for moving teeth. It results in faster turnover of bone, which causes healthy acceleration of tooth movement. The application of this laser also decreases pain.
If a patient opts for this method, the procedure is done in the office every couple of months. It takes about 20 minutes and is normally done at the same time as the patient’s regular appointment, meaning that there is no need to come in to the office additional times.
The second way to accelerate orthodontic treatment is through the use of high frequency vibrations. Like the low-level laser described above, high frequency vibrations are also effective in controlling pain and recruiting the cells responsible for tooth movement. In this case, the patient is given a device to use for about 5 minutes per day at home. An added bonus is that it can also be used anytime to control pain – this is especially handy if the patient feels discomfort after a new adjustment.
This method works well for patients who are using Invisalign because they’re already taking care of their treatment at home and not coming into the office very often. It can also be especially good for busy people who prefer an at-home solution.
Another way to accelerate orthodontic treatment is through the use of what’s called micro-trauma. In this procedure, the orthodontist focuses on areas that are being stubborn and are therefore difficult to move. In this case, tiny holes are poked in the gums to create cells that are needed to move teeth. This method can be used anytime during the course of treatment when stubborn teeth are noticed. An example of its effectiveness is that patients who are using Invisalign can change their aligners every four days versus every week.
Patients should know that this method requires a special appointment that takes about 20 minutes. Anesthesia is given during the appointment to numb the gums. It gets the fastest results but may not be the right choice for everyone because of the use of anesthesia.
The final option to speed up orthodontic treatment is the use of Insignia braces, which are custom braces with a prescription designed by Dr. Booms and myself. A scan of the teeth is taken, just like we do for Invisalign patients, and then prescription brackets and wires are custom milled based on the patient’s specific individual needs. Insignia braces do not require any additional appointments, but patients should note that there is a waiting period of about 6 weeks while the custom braces are being made.
When patients indicate that speed is particularly important, I’m happy to recommend one of the above acceleration options based on their individual needs. These options can be added to a treatment plan for one additional fee, which can be included in the patient’s regular payment plan.
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