Almost the first question everyone who needs braces asks their orthodontist is: “How long do braces take?” Wondering how long you’ll have to wear them is a natural part of the process of getting braces, but truthfully, it’s not always a simple question to answer. While no one wants to have metal brackets attached to their teeth for long, there are certain factors that have to be taken into account for both a quick and effective treatment.
How Long Do You Need Braces?
The average time in braces that a typical adult can expect is between 1 and 3 years. However, there are a number of different factors that can affect the length of treatment including age, complexity, number of orthodontic problems being treated, compliance with care routines, and the type of braces used. Age matters the least to how long a patient needs to wear their braces, but one of the benefits of early orthodontic treatment is that younger patients tend to have more malleable jaws and teeth, meaning their average time in braces may be shorter compared to an adult with the same orthodontic issues. To learn more about age and braces, visit our blog post “Can adults get braces?”
Does the Severity of the Issues Matter?
The severity of the problems being corrected is the most important variable in how long you might wear braces—and is the also most important factor for your overall oral health. In fact, you may want to reframe the question of “how long do braces take?” to “How long will effective treatment take for my unique situation?”
Your orthodontist will explain the kinds of corrections that your braces are intended to treat, with some of the most common being crooked, misaligned, rotated, or crowded teeth, as well as a misaligned bite. The more compounding corrections that need to be made, the longer you will need to wear your braces.
When Do Braces Start to Work?
Braces begin to work from the moment they are applied to your teeth, and many patients experience a few hours or days of mild discomfort or pressure immediately following their appointment as the device begins to move their teeth. However, most patients won’t notice any measurable change in how their teeth look until later, with the earliest braces results after 1 month. It can take some time to adjust to wearing braces, and it’s natural to want to see a reward for the changes to your lifestyle, but the braces process month by month requires patience for optimal results.
Can You Have Braces for 6 Months?
It’s possible that your treatment may only take as little as six months, but this usually only happens if you have mildly crooked teeth or are having braces reapplied after initial treatment earlier in life.
Is Invisalign Treatment Faster Than Braces?
Many adult patients inquire about the difference in treatment time for braces vs. Invisalign, which makes sense when you consider that Invisalign is both discreet and easily removable for eating and cleaning clear plastic retainers. However, while Invisalign can be more comfortable than braces, Invisalign retainers only straighten teeth while you are wearing them, meaning that they can be less effective if you forget to wear them or take them out for long periods of time. Since braces are constantly straightening the teeth, Invisalign treatment can actually take longer than braces in certain cases.
Can I Shorten the Time for Braces Treatment?
While some of the variables around average time in braces can be controlled, many cannot, and its more important to wear the braces for the correct amount of time than deal with the changes in lifestyle that braces require only to then have your orthodontic problems remain unchanged when you are done. Some of the best tips for shortening the length of time you need to wear braces include:
Follow Your Orthodontist’s Instructions
Because everyone’s bite is different, your orthodontist may direct you to wear certain accessories to your braces like headgear, or rubber bands that treat a specific characteristic of your bite. Often, these extra accessories will only have to be worn for a few weeks or months of your total treatment time, and failing to do so can result in additional time or even more obstructive accessories that need to be included later.
Avoid Any Foods That Could Damage Braces
Braces move your teeth in very specific ways over a specific amount of time, and only your orthodontist can make the adjustments needed to ensure they are moving in the way they’re supposed to. Eating sticky, hard, or especially crunchy foods can damage the wire or the brackets attached to your teeth, preventing them from moving your teeth the way they are supposed to. Your orthodontist may not notice the damage until your next checkup, meaning that they may need time to make additional adjustments.
If you live in Northern Nevada and have questions about braces in Sparks, NV, come visit us at Elevated Orthodontics, the number-one orthodontic dentist in Sparks! We’re dedicated to helping our patients understand the process, duration, and care requirements of braces to help them protect their oral health—and get the straight, perfect smiles of their dreams. Patients who are looking for orthodontics in Reno can visit us at our sister location in South Reno for the same level of care that’s closer to home! If you would like more information about how long braces take, tips on shortening your treatment duration, or any other questions, call or visit us today to make an appointment.