It happens all the time…..a patient comes in a week before the wedding and says “Doc, can you fix my teeth”?
Most of the time the answer is no, teeth take a long time to move; however, there are times when a small problem in the patient’s smile can be corrected in a very short period of time. For example, a space in between the teeth, or a tooth that sticks out can be fixed within a couple of months, weeks and yes, even in one hour!
How is that possible? Let me explain…..
When I was in my orthodontic post-graduate program at Montefiore Medical Center, one of my teachers, Dr. Shelton, patented a method called “fingerdontics”.
Besides being a high end Manhattan orthodontist, Dr. Shelton was also a professional jazz flutist and naturally a very patient man, and for the method of fingerdontics you needed to have a lot of patience. (First a warning, before I explain his method, do not try this yourself as you may damage your teeth.) He would lean his finger gently on a tooth while explaining to us that teeth are actually joints. The tooth sits in a socket of bone and is surrounded by fibers that connect it to the bone. These fibers can stretch, so after just a short time the tooth will visibly move. After his “show and tell” he would leave the room, and within seconds the teeth moved back out of place! We all learned the lesson; the problem with “fingerdontics” is that the same fibers that stretched and allowed for the tooth to move will then return to their original shape and bring the tooth back with them. This is what orthodontists call tooth memory.
One way to reset tooth memory is through the normal course of orthodontic therapy. This allows for the extra time that enables the fibers to reshape in the new position. The other way is to place a fixed or permanent retainer after the teeth are moved.
So how is it possible to move teeth in one hour and make sure they stay that way? We place a fixed retainer on the back of the teeth. I use a small and sleek fixed retainer and coat it with a very smooth material. Patients are very happy because the fixed retainer is comfortable and avoids the need to wear a removable retainer full time. I’ve also modified Dr Shelton’s “fingerdontic” method, since I have rachmanus on the patient and my finger, and instead use a couple of braces to accomplish the same thing.
To sum up:
We often can correct minor spacing or tooth misalignment in one hour with some braces and a fixed retainer. So when you have an important business meeting tomorrow but fear you look like Nanny McPhee, or you are afraid your date tonight might mistakenly call you Sponge Bob, it can’t hurt to give us a call. You might still have time; in fact you might have more than enough time! One hour braces!
Please note that we don’t recommend you wait till the last minute to get orthodontic therapy. If you see something in your smile that you want to correct, it is always better to come in for a consultation as soon as possible.
This patient (AS) didn’t like the spacing between his teeth and refused to walk outside with braces or invisalign. We placed four braces, while he sat in my office for one hour. We then placed his fixed retainer, and he was all smiles!
Dr. Gherman received his degree in orthodonticts from Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine
15 Ibn Gevirol Street, Jerusalem