What is Propel and How Does it Work?

One of the most frequent questions patients ask is, “Is there a way to make braces work faster?” At Family Orthodontics of Annapolis, the answer is, absolutely!

As a Propel® provider, we’ve got the goods to get you in and out of braces or Invisalign in nearly half the time. Dr. Riddhi and our team love innovative gadgets and if it’s something safe and proven that can help our patients achieve results more quickly, comfortably and effectively, you better believe we’ll add it to our menu. That’s why we’ve invested in Propel Excellerator Series technology. 

What is Propel?

A lot of patients, especially adults, cringe at the thought of spending years straightening their teeth and now there’s a way to bypass that thanks to the brilliant minds at Propel Orthodontics. The Propel Excellerator™ Series is a line of chair-side devices that can be used in conjunction with metal braces, clear braces, Invisalign and even temporary anchorage devices (TADs). Dr. Riddhi M. O’Reilly is able to incorporate the procedure at a regular appointment and complete a session in mere minutes. It enhances predictability and patient comfort while making teeth move faster to safely cut treatment time by up to 50% and reduce your number of overall visits. While it varies patient to patient, most people are able to achieve the results they want in less than a year.

How Does Propel Work?

The duration of your orthodontic treatment can be influenced by a number of things. Yet, the biggest factor that affects how fast your teeth zip into their new positions is the rate of bone remodeling. Okay, so we’re going to get technical for a minute. Soft tissues (your gums and periodontal membrane) and underlying hard tissues (alveolar bone) support your teeth. As orthodontic appliances exert steady, gentle pressure, the teeth start to get a little loose and the bone breaks down, is reabsorbed and then rebuilt, in what’s known as remodeling. Essentially, as the bone remodels, the teeth are able to move and new bone forms to fill in the space where they once were. Eventually, the alveolar bone regenerates completely and secures the teeth where we want them. Cells, including those that cause inflammation, control this whole process.

The Propel device is used to make micro-osteoperforations (MOPs), or tiny perforations that are the size of a pinhole in the bone around the teeth. The MOPs encourage a natural inflammatory response, which stimulates the release of the cells involved in the breakdown of the bone. This kicks off bone remodeling and accelerates tooth movement. A study published in the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics found that MOPs increased the rate of tooth movement by more than twofold and reduced treatment time by up to 62%. Guess which device they used on participants to create MOPs? That’s right, Propel.

While pinholes and bone remodeling might sound kind of terrifying, Propel is gentle and discomfort during the procedure is minimal. It only takes Dr. Riddhi a few minutes and we can even numb the area first so you don’t feel a thing. One or two Propel treatments are usually required but more could be necessary to facilitate complex tooth movements. There’s no recovery time and right after your appointment, you can go to school, work, brunch, your Netflix marathon or whatever else you have planned for the day. It’s all natural and works with your own biology without the need for medications, surgery or any extra appliances. 

How Does Propel Work?

Yup! The Propel Excellerator device has been cleared as a Class II medical device for use in orthodontics. The authors of the study in the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics noted that Propel was an “effective, comfortable, and safe procedure that accelerates tooth movement significantly.” 

Propel Treatment Aftercare

As we said, there’s zero recovery time after a Propel procedure but there are a few steps you can take to make sure you get the most out of it. Following a treatment:

  • Your mouth might be slightly sensitive but it will go away in a day or two. It’s extremely important that you don’t take anti-inflammatory pain medication like Aspirin or Ibuprofen. Inflammation is a good thing in this case since the inflammatory response is how Propel works its magic to speed up orthodontic treatment.
  • Stay away from spicy foods and anything with citric acid (e.g., orange juice, lemons, limes) for several days because the treatment area can feel a bit like when pizza burns the roof of your mouth.
  • While the micro-perforations are healing, swish with undiluted hydrogen peroxide two or three times a day to keep your mouth sparkling clean and disinfected. Yeah, it tastes pretty bad so feel free to follow up by brushing with some delicious toothpaste. 

Am I a Candidate for Propel?

Propel works in the majority of cases but every mouth and situation is different so the only way to determine if you’re a candidate is to hightail it to an orthodontist’s office. If you’re interested in Propel, schedule a free consultation, Dr. Riddhi will examine you and gather your diagnostic records to get a clear picture of what’s going on with your teeth and jaws. We’ll chat with about your treatment options and see if Propel can put you on the fast track to a brand new smile.