wearing braces

No matter their age, there’s one common question we get from patients about their oral care: how long before I can get my braces off? It’s a fair question, given that most of us are trying to correct crooked teeth to improve our self-confidence—not to walk away with a whole new look!

If you’re wondering how long you’ll be wearing questions, we’re here to tell you that the answer isn’t always as straightforward as you might think. Let’s take a quick look at how long you might spend with braces, as well as the factors that can influence your timeline.

Average Amount of Time You’ll Spend Wearing Braces

On average, it can take anywhere from 12 to 24 months to complete this type of treatment. Note that this is only an average: some patients may be ready for the removal of their braces in under a single year, while others might need as many as three years for successful treatment.

You should also be aware that there are several things that can affect how long you’ll need braces, including things like the positions of your teeth, as we’ll discuss below.

What Factors Affect How Long You’ll Have Braces?

If you’re hoping to estimate the amount of time you might spend with traditional braces, it’s important to take these factors into account:

Your Age

Dental braces are often associated with teenagers, but they aren’t the only ones who need them. In fact, around 25% of the millions of people wearing braces in the U.S. are adults.

However, because their jaws are still developing, the teeth of young children and teens are often easier to move. In general, a child or teenager will need to wear braces for less time than an adult, though this isn’t a hard rule.

The Amount of Correction Needed

As you can probably guess, you’re more likely to need to wear braces for longer if your teeth have a lot of shifting to do before they’ve moved to the right place. With mild crowding, you might need braces for under a year, while someone with more severe overcrowding might need up to three. The same is also true for braces designed to fix a bite issue, which can often take longer.

Following Your Orthodontist’s Instructions

You’re less likely to need extended time with your braces if you’re following your orthodontist’s instructions.

Your orthodontist will explain how to maintain your oral health, and they might also ask you to use additional tools such as headgear at night. They’ll also recommend staying away from certain foods that could damage your braces and interrupt your care. Along with sticking to their recommended appointment schedule, following these instructions can ensure that you get your braces off faster.

Your Body and Its Response

In addition, your body itself will dictate how long you may need braces. Small factors out of your control, including things like your metabolic rate and bone density, can play a role in how fast your teeth take to their new adjustments.

The Experience of Your Orthodontist

Last, but not least, the experience of your orthodontist can play a role in the timeline for your braces. As you might expect, more experienced orthodontists are better at creating effective treatment plans in a shorter amount of time.

How Long Is the Process for Getting Braces?

Curious about the process of getting traditional metal or ceramic braces? Here’s what to expect.

The Initial Consultation

You’ll need to allow some time for the initial process, which requires a dentist’s referral and an initial consultation to decide what should be done to your teeth. Your orthodontist will also need time to design a treatment for your needs. All told, this initial process can take two weeks or more, depending on your appointment schedule and the complexity of your dental concerns.

Your First Visit

During the visit to place the braces, your orthodontist will clean and dry your teeth to ensure that the braces adhere. They will then use glue to place the metal or ceramic brackets onto each tooth. Your orthodontist will place metal bands onto your back teeth with glue as well, drying the glue with a special light.

Once the glue is set, your orthodontist will attach the wires in place. Last, they’ll place colored rubber bands to strengthen the braces.

In general, you can expect all of these steps to take anywhere from one to two hours. However, in certain complex cases, your orthodontist may need to put your braces on in two visits instead of one, requiring more time.

What’s the Difference in Timelines Between Invisalign and Traditional Braces?

Many of our patients who are debating Invisalign aligners vs traditional braces ask us about the different timelines.

In general, you can expect to wear Invisalign braces for anywhere from 12 to 18 months, though you may need as little as 6 months. As mentioned above, traditional braces take slightly longer to work at an average of 12 to 24 months. With both of these types of braces, this average can vary more or less depending on your dental concerns.

However, it’s worth remembering that Invisalign is better for moderate teeth straightening needs. In some cases, your orthodontist will recommend traditional braces for cases dealing with more severe issues, including overcrowding, certain bite problems, and large gaps.

Make the Most of Your Oral Care by Wearing Braces

Though wearing braces can feel like an inconvenience at first, it’s important to make sure you’re getting the oral help you need—no matter the timeline. After all, the months you spend reaping the benefits of braces can greatly help your oral care in the long-term, allowing you to walk away with less crowded teeth and a healthier smile.

If you have questions about the importance of braces for your smile, or if you’d like to learn more about your options, we’re here to help! Don’t hesitate to give us a call or reach out for a free consultation.