When people ask how long braces take to work, they’re usually asking how long it will take before they are taken out. The average time a patient wears braces is 18-24 months.
A patient’s treatment time can be longer or shorter depending on the severity of the case and the amount of movement that needs to happen.
Orthodontists can give you a better idea of your treatment time when they evaluate your teeth and bite in person.
How do Braces Work?
Most people know that braces are used to straighten teeth, but how do they work?
When you visit a dentist for the first time, they will look at your teeth and ask you questions about what you want from orthodontic treatment.
The orthodontist may take X-rays, photos, and impressions of your teeth, which are used to create a customized treatment plan just for you.
You’ll then have braces put on your teeth. The orthodontist will use an adhesive to attach brackets to your teeth. The brackets are connected by a wire that runs across all teeth.
While the wire is attached to the brackets and cannot be removed, an orthodontist can tighten it to create more pressure between the upper and lower jaws.
The constant pressure applied by braces gradually moves the teeth into their new positions in your mouth.
Every four to six weeks, you’ll return to the orthodontist so they can tighten the wires and make sure everything is moving properly.
Invisalign, a clear plastic aligner tray, is another option available for mild cases.
Factors that Determine How Long you will Wear Braces
When you ask your orthodontist how long you’ll need to wear braces, the answer is usually “it depends.” It depends on how crooked your teeth are, how crowded they are, and several other factors.
Here are some of the most important factors in determining how long you’ll need to wear braces.
Some people think that age determines how long they need to wear braces. However, it has nothing to do with age but everything to do with oral development.
Older people may have completed their growth and have more tooth structure loss than younger patients.
This can make treatment time longer because there is less space available in the mouth to move teeth into alignment.
That said, tooth movement occurs more slowly in adults than in children and teens, so adults might need to wear braces longer than younger patients.
The Severity of your Bite Problem
If your bite is off by a lot, it will take more time to correct it than if it’s just slightly off.
A severe overbite, underbite, or crossbite can be corrected with a special type of braces called headgear, which attaches to the back of your teeth.
The Position of your Teeth
If teeth are crowded or too far apart, it could mean that you have a jaw that’s too small for your teeth or that you have too much gum tissue between them.
That makes it difficult for the teeth to move into their ideal positions and makes them vulnerable to injury.
Sometimes extraction is necessary before starting treatment with braces, so there’s enough room for all the teeth in the smaller space available in the mouth.
Other times, the orthodontist may recommend widening the jaw with surgery before treatment can begin.
How Well you Follow Instructions
Braces work best when you keep your teeth clean and don’t break any brackets or wires by eating hard foods or chewing on pencils and pens.
In addition to making treatment take longer, broken brackets, wires, or bands can lead to serious mouth injuries if not treated promptly by an orthodontist.
What can you do to shorten the Time Spent Wearing Braces?
Ultimately, there are some things you can do to make your time with braces go faster:
- Wear your elastic bands as prescribed by your orthodontist (if you’re required to wear them). Wearing elastics helps move your teeth more quickly into their correct positions and shortens overall treatment time.
- Avoid breaking brackets and wires (no sticky, chewy, or hard foods). Broken appliances slow down treatment progress by requiring additional appointments for repairs.
- Keep up with regular cleaning appointments with your dentist. Dirty teeth and gums prolong treatment time because they can lead to dental issues such as cavities, gum disease, or tooth loss.
Braces are a wonderful tool for straightening your teeth, but they’re not the type of appliance you use for a few days or weeks.
The length of time you wear braces depends on several factors that we have outlined in this article.