How Long Do You Have to Wear Braces?

Whenever you get told that you or a child needs orthodontic care, one of the first questions is always, how long will you have to wear braces? Although the average term for most patients is between 12 and 18 months, many variables could shorten or lengthen the time for each case. Find out how the orthodontist evaluates each unique smile to develop custom treatment plans.

Factors Affecting How Long You Have to Wear Braces

When determining how long a patient will need braces, a doctor will look at many factors, including:

  • Degree of malocclusion
  • Age of patient
  • Type of appliance used
  • Bite problems requiring correcting

To gather the information necessary to create a treatment plan, the doctor will use X-rays, digital imaging, dental and medical history, and a complete oral examination. The whole treatment process happens in several phases.

The Phases of Orthodontic Care

Wear Braces First is the planning. During this phase, the doctor will gather information, conduct an examination, and develop treatment recommendations. The doctor can create a 3D working “map” of the mouth using digital imaging, providing an extremely accurate model. Sophisticated computer software allows the doctor to develop a treatment plan quickly.

The next phase also called the active phase, is when the patient has braces or other orthodontic appliances. The most common treatment in use is still traditional metal braces, but you may also select clear ceramic braces or Invisalign. This phase will typically last from 12 to 18 months. In some cases requiring only minor adjustment, it may be as short as three to six months. Conversely, it can last as long as 24 to 36 months in more complex cases. The doctor will adjust the archwire about every six to eight weeks during this phase.

Once the second phase of treatment is complete, and the hardware come off, patients enter the retention phase. Teeth do not always stay in their new positions, so wearing a retainer is necessary. At first, you will likely need to wear the retainer more, and the time requirement will decrease as time progresses.

The Type of Braces Might Make a Difference

The type of braces you have might make a difference in the duration of your treatment. In some cases, traditional braces can be more aggressively applied to speed progress. Although not always the case, this may allow you to have a shorter treatment period. Let’s explore how the different types of equipment work.

Traditional Metal Braces

Orthodontists have been using traditional metal braces for centuries and they remain the most reliable orthodontic appliance for almost all malocclusions. Braces work on the principle of tension. The doctor affixes small brackets to each tooth with a tiny clip on the front. A wire (the archwire) threads through each clip and is locked in place. The doctor creates tension that converts to the force necessary to move teeth by tightening the archwire. Small rubber bands, called elastics, help keep the archwire in place.

Clear Ceramic Braces

Clear braces use the same principle as metal. The difference is in the bracket. Clear braces use a transparent bracket that blends with the natural color of your teeth. They have all the benefits of metal braces but a more subtle appearance.

Wear braces -- Invisalign Invisalign®

Invisalign is a system that uses a series of sequential tray aligners to push teeth into alignment gently. The nearly invisible aligners are a popular alternative for comfort and appearance. Patients should wear the trays for 20 to 22 hours every day but can remove them for meals, drinks, and oral hygiene. A new set of trays is used about every two weeks. Each tray set gently provides pressure to the teeth to move them into alignment. Braces PULL teeth into alignment while Invisalign gently PUSHES teeth to straighten them.

How Early Can You Start Braces Treatment?

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that all children see an orthodontist for their first visit before their seventh birthday. Not every child needs braces at that age, but it is the best age for the doctor to correct potential problems if they exist. Early treatment allows the orthodontist to use a child’s natural growth patterns to guide jaw growth as the secondary (adult) teeth begin to drop into place.

Ways to Shorten Braces Treatment

When the orthodontist gives you a treatment plan, it may say you will be in braces for 18 months. Although these can be pretty accurate, there are things that you can do to keep your treatment on track. Sometimes, this extra effort may shorten treatment, but not always. Some tips to stay on the schedule include:

Chop solid foods into bite-sized pieces. Thinks like apples, raw veggies, and even crusty bread are easier to chew when you cut them. Reducing the strain on both your teeth and the hardware reduces the risk of damaging the hardware or shifting teeth.

Be diligent about your oral hygiene. Brush and floss thoroughly several times each day. Ensure all the food particles that may become lodged in your braces. When you can’t brush soon after eating, rinse with plain water, swishing well to remove as many loose particles as possible.

Avoid certain food and drinks that will accelerate tooth decay. Adhering to any dietary restrictions will help by decreasing broken appliances that could prolong treatment.

Ditch bad chewing habits. Only chew food — skip chewing on the erasers, pencils, your toothbrush, nails, and anything that is not food. These habits may harm the hardware and cause problems with your teeth too.

Don’t miss appointments. Follow-up appointments with your orthodontist are essential. The doctor will check your progress during each visit and adjust to continue your tooth movement. If you miss appointments, it may delay your treatment.

Caring for Your Teeth After Braces

Many people think that they will have a perfect smile forever without further effort once they get their braces off. Unfortunately, that is not true. You will need to maintain your oral hygiene routine. You will have a retainer to wear on a prescribed schedule. You will often wear the retainer at night, but occasional day wearing may be necessary.

Goldkind Family Orthodontics — Making Braces Affordable

Wear Braces Goldkind Family Orthodontics believes that anyone who needs orthodontic care should be able to get it. To maintain affordable pricing, we offer several different options. You can estimate your payment using our online payment calculator. We can’t quote an exact price for you until after a complete examination, but the calculator can provide a baseline.

Dr. Michael Goldkind is an expert in orthodontics with an excellent chairside manner. He is fantastic with children, teens, and adults. When you want a family-oriented office for all your orthodontic needs — Goldkind Family Orthodontics is a great choice. You can get started right away with our Appointment Request form. We understand the complexities of family budgeting, so your first appointment is complimentary!