How Long Does Orthodontic Treatment Take?

How Long Does Orthodontic Treatment Take?

Dr. Farah Kar, top rated orthodontist meeting with orthodontic patient.

Every patient’s timeline is different and orthodontic treatment depends on a number of individual factors. With that being said, we can give an estimate for the expected timeline! 

The typical orthodontic treatment usually takes between 18 to 24 months. Some patients only need six months in braces, others need three or more years, and some patients may even need braces twice. It all depends on you, which is why our practice offers customized treatment plans based on patient needs, assessments, dental history, goals and more.

Orthodontic Treatment Timelines

So what can you expect with orthodontic treatment?

Your braces journey starts with scheduling a consultation. During this first visit, your orthodontist will examine your teeth, take digital X-rays, and go over treatment plans.

The first official appointment is when we take impressions of the teeth to prepare the patient for the placement of whichever treatment plan you decided on. The next appointment is the most important one because it’s when we fit the custom braces or aligners to the teeth.

In some cases, a simple treatment using a removable aligner might be all that’s needed. However, if teeth need more encouragement to move, you may need permanent braces with wires, brackets and bands bonded to the teeth. This is a fixed appliance, meaning you cannot remove it yourself. All treatments apply gentle pressure to move teeth into alignment over time.

Follow-up appointments are the most consistent visits. They happen every four to eight weeks. During these routine appointments, the Braces Braces team checks progress, makes sure everything is on track and moving as it should, and tightens or gives new trays before sending you off. These visits could be considered as taking the most time, but we keep them short to make sure they don’t take up too much of your busy schedule—in the end it’s less than 30 minutes of your day.

And finally, we’ve made it to the end and your braces or aligners are coming off! We’ll clean the teeth and check to make sure the results are as expected, and then you’re done.

What Factors Affect How Long Braces and Aligners Take?

The problems braces treat varies. It can be solely cosmetic, it can be a lack of function that’s impeding your daily life, or it can be tooth positioning causing decay which can turn into bigger problems. All of this affects expected treatment time, along with a variety of other factors.

Braces or Aligners

Your choice of traditional metal braces, clear braces or Invisalign aligners can impact how long treatment takes. In general, Invisalign takes less time. It’s an average orthodontic treatment time of 12 to 18 months rather than 18 to 24.
There are steps patients can follow to see the best results with both braces and aligners. If you’re not wearing rubber bands, which help shift braces, it can take longer to see results. The same goes for Invisalign aligners. Those must be worn 22 hours a day to remain at their most effective. Since this treatment is removable, if patients choose Invisalign treatment, our team always notes the importance of actively wearing aligners. Patients who follow through with instructions will be more likely to stay on track with timing.

Orthodontic Issues

Orthodontic treatments correct issues with your teeth and jaw, and the process involves diagnosis, prevention and correction. Devices like braces, aligners, retainers, brackets and headgear can correct protruding or crowded teeth as well as difficulty with biting, chewing and even speech issues. All of this has the potential to affect how long treatment takes.
If you only need to correct the alignment of the teeth, your treatment time will be relatively short. However, sometimes, orthodontic treatment also needs to correct your bite. Bite refers to how the upper and lower teeth fit together. It’s this second stage of treatment that takes more time.

Scope of Orthodontic Treatment

How bad is the misalignment? In addition to moving teeth, will the bite have to be corrected? Questions like these are always taken into account, so we can give you the most accurate estimate during your consultation.
To move misaligned teeth, slow steady pressure is used, which is why orthodontic treatment can take a while. Too much force can loosen teeth and even affect gums and bone, so a light pressure is needed. This means if teeth need to be moved a lot, the process will take longer than if just a minor correction is needed.
If your orthodontist recommends bite correction following alignment, it’s important you do that. Even though it takes time upfront, it safeguards jaw function and your ability to chew and bite in the future. Correcting your bite also reduces risk of TMJ disorders affecting the joints of the jaw.

Patient Considerations

The age of the patient can also affect orthodontic treatment times. Adults in braces tend to take slightly longer than children and teens because the teeth are more established and the jaw is no longer growing. Children usually have faster treatment times because their mouths, bones and tissues that support teeth are still growing. This makes their mouths more adaptable to changes.
Patients can influence length of time in other ways as well. We perform thorough examinations and assessments of the mouth, teeth and gums prior to treatment because oral health, inflammation and gum disease can affect the length of time for orthodontic treatment.

All this being said, a number of factors influence orthodontic treatment, but we take all of this into account when helping patients figure out the best and most effective result for your individual needs.

Find Out Your Estimated Timeline Today!

Braces take years, and years are definitely a commitment. They’re very worth it, though. Orthodontic treatment is an investment to improve the function and appearance of your teeth.

A patient’s willingness to follow through with instructions is vital in achieving the most efficient treatment times. Remember, orthodontic care is completed in stages. Merely completing the first stage and not the second can result in possible relapse and the need for more treatment. Wearing your rubber bands or keeping your aligners in is important.

Want to find out exactly how long orthodontic treatment will take in your situation? Contact us at Braces Braces to schedule your free initial consultation today. We can set up an appointment and help you decide which orthodontic treatment is best for your situation.