Like many general dentists, I avoided orthodontics early in my career, because I had been conditioned to believe that all cases were too difficult for me to attempt. Then, about 11 years ago, I discovered that I could develop a very nice comfort zone with straightforward cases with Invisalign. I actually did so many Invisalign cases, that I was awarded Align’s top level, Elite status - one year I started 120 Invisalign cases, it was a very good year.
I avoided attending the Six Month Smiles course, because I thought it would be stepping on my dear friend’s toes, my Orthodontist to whom I refer many cases. Imagine my surprise that when I approached her with my desire to incorporate Six Month Smiles, and her response was very positive. She has more business than she can handle, and she knows that a dentist that understands orthodontics on any level above basic actually becomes a better referral source.
Before I attended the Six Month Smiles course, I clearly had a reasonable comfort zone with moving teeth. Once I entered the world of 6MS, a new, very brightly lit bulb hit my brain. I quickly discovered the difference between Six Month Smiles and aligners was bigger than I had ever imagined. I once told someone, “it’s like riding a moped, when I could have been driving a car”. As a clinical instructor for 6MS, I’m aware that I’m biased, but I started where everyone else did, so I think my opinions are valid.
Here are the main reasons that I believe 6MS to be far superior to aligners:
- Cost. This isn’t even a contest. The fees that I charge are similar, but the case fees for 6MS is far less than what I paid for aligners.
- Control. This is huge. Anyone that has ever used aligners knows that compliance is the entire name of the game. I have honestly grown extremely tired of patients lying to me about how much they wear aligners. I’m not THAT naive, and I wore aligners in 2001 myself, so I get it. With 6MS, if someone wants to lie to me about what they are doing, normally, it’s a few minutes for me to replace a bracket and we move on - with me still in control! Of course, I’m sort of joking about the lying, but not really…
- Time. For years, if I wanted to move a tooth, even a little, I had to repeat records, wait for a refinement to show up in the mail and schedule the patient. Now, I can change a wire, move a bracket, use IPR, a power chain or use POP pliers to adjust my plan - all at the visit when the patient is sitting in front of me. There is a reason that Six Month Smiles has a time frame in the name, it really works and many patients are done in less than 6 months. With aligners, it’s not unusual for cases to take 2-3 years for the same case type.
Dentists that have used both systems should be able to relate to how different the experience is for us and for our patients. A happy patient makes for a happy dentist and team!