Can I speed up my orthodontic treatment?

Moving teeth is a delicate, tricky, and slow process because it involves living cells and tissues. Three factors are involved during orthodontic tooth movement: the force applied on the tooth, the duration of that force, and the healing period that follows. Let’s talk about each of these factors some more.

The first factor is the amount of pressure exerted on a tooth. Too much force can damage the teeth and their supporting structures whereas too little will not be sufficient enough for any movement. A perfect balance of pressure is therefore needed to move teeth efficiently without causing harm.

The duration of force is also another critical factor. Even with the right amount of pressure a tooth will not move if that pressure is not applied for an exact duration of time. Research has shown that 6 hours of constant pressure is needed to move teeth. Pressure lasting less than that will not cause any movement and extended amount of pressure will again cause damage.

The last important factor is the healing phase. A proper rest period is needed for the cells and tissues of our teeth after they have been moved. Without that healing period teeth will not move again or if they do, damage will occur. It is the same process with muscles. Professional trainers always emphasize a period of rest before another strenuous exercise session to allow for the muscles to heal and recuperate. Well, same goes with teeth! That period to be exact is 21 days! (Teeth can be quite lazy).

So now we know that a proper balance of pressure and time is needed to move teeth followed by ample healing time. Then how much exactly do teeth actually move? Well, research has also shown than on average teeth move about 1mm per month. This is the same distance as the letter “T” you are now reading. Quite slow indeed and hence why most orthodontic treatment last between 18-24 months.

With the information just provided you now have an idea of how tricky and delicate tooth movement really is. Can we move teeth faster? Yes, but it is not recommended and will cause damage and pain. So next time you ask your orthodontist to speed up your treatment don’t be surprised if you see a small little frown on his/her forehead!

Dr. Salmassian is a Board Certified Orthodontist and specializes in orthodontics for children and adults.  For any questions regarding this article or to schedule your complimentary evaluation please contact Salmassian Orthodontics at 661-222-7444.