Braces are a safe and useful orthodontic treatment for patients of all ages who want to get straighter, healthier teeth. While not all braces are created equal, some types can result in a significant departure from your usual eating and cleaning routine. With this in mind, it’s natural to ask: how long do braces take to straighten your teeth? In truth, several factors can affect the average time for braces to work. Let’s take a look at what they are and what exactly the process for getting braces looks like.
What Types of Braces Are There?
The type of orthodontic device or braces that you choose can have a considerable effect on how long they take to work. Some of the most common ones include:
Certain companies like Invisalign offer clear plastic aligners that are custom-made to treat less complex cases—oftentimes, treatment can last 6 months to a year. These aligners can be removed at will, but the less often you wear them, the longer they will take to work. Clear aligners can also be combined with a whitening treatment that can’t be used with traditional metal braces.
Traditional metal braces are often the only treatment for complex or severe cases that require straightening. Metal braces consist of a metal bracket that is bonded onto the teeth and adjusted with a guide wire which gradually moves teeth into the desired position.
Metal braces are unfortunately less comfortable than aligners or other options, and can require special dietary restrictions and cleaning protocols to work properly and maintain proper oral health. While potentially a little more achey at first, metal braces are the most effective type of orthodontic smile straightening available and are often the most affordable option as well.
Ceramic braces are similar to metal braces, except they use a special transparent material to bond the brackets to the teeth. This material cannot withstand as much tension as a metal bracket, and, as a result, treatment can often take longer.
Before you can ask your orthodontist “How long do you have to wear braces?” Your orthodontist will first have to x-ray your teeth so they can accurately determine which type of braces will suit your specific situation the best.
What Is the Process of Getting Braces?
Usually, your orthodontist will start by taking X-ray images of your teeth to better understand the specific ways in which your teeth need to move. Maybe you have an under, over, or crossbite which means your teeth don’t meet where they should when your jaw is closed. Once this is established, your orthodontist will give you their recommendations and options for the type of orthodontic appliance available to you.
How Does Age Affect How Long Braces Take?
Age is one of the biggest factors determining how long it can take for braces to fully straighten teeth. During childhood, the jaw is more malleable than later on in adulthood, as are the soft tissues and ligaments that hold the teeth in place. Having braces between the ages of 8 and 12 can mean a quicker treatment with either braces or Invisalign.
How Long Do Braces Take To Straighten Teeth?
The short answer is: it depends. Because braces are designed to physically move the teeth attached to your jaw bone, the process must be done slowly and safely. As already discussed, a mix of factors like your age, type of orthodontic device, and range of treatment needed all combine to decide your final wear time. When asking “how long do braces last?” most people will hear an answer of between 1 and 3 years.
Aside from the variables that are harder to control, like age, one thing that can shorten the amount of time you have to wear braces is adhering to the care instructions given to you by your orthodontist. If you are asked to wear additional corrective devices like headgear or rubber bands attached to your braces or to avoid certain sticky or hard foods, you can at the very least maintain the completion schedule your orthodontist envisioned for your treatment—and, in some cases, speed it up. Alternatively, failing to adhere to your orthodontist’s care regimen and mean your braces will take longer to straighten your teeth.
If you are considering braces and are looking for knowledgeable professionals in Northern Nevada, Elevated Orthodontics is prepared to help you straighten your smile with state-of-the-art care and equipment. Call or visit our clinic today to schedule an initial consultation about which kind of treatment would be best for you. Elevated Orthodontics is currently taking new patients who want the straightest, healthiest smile of their lives. Don’t wait! Call today.