One of the biggest questions that many young people have when they find out they will need to wear braces is how long it will take. While everyone wants the end result of straighter teeth and better jaw alignment, most of us want to move on from the maintenance and adjustments that go with wearing braces and other orthodontic devices as soon as possible. This is understandable.
The length of time that it takes for orthodontic treatment, including braces, to make a difference depends on a number of factors. To help you learn more, we’re sharing the following helpful guide.
How long do braces take?
On average, younger patients can expect to wear braces for anywhere from one to three years. The total length of your or your child’s orthodontic treatment can take shorter or longer depending on factors such as the severity of the case and the age of the patient.
Understanding Phases of Treatment for Pediatric Orthodontics and Braces
First, of all, braces are typically not put on before all permanent teeth come in, but there can still be a need for early orthodontic treatment.
In general, for children between the ages of seven and 10, the goal is to make sure that there is adequate space for the adult teeth to come in properly. Additionally, orthodontics can help to correct any habits or shifts that may be present causing asymmetries of the base of the jaw. This earliest stage of care is called interceptive or phase one treatment and it may last between eight to 12 months.
Once most of the permanent teeth have erupted, usually after the age of 10, the orthodontist will evaluate for comprehensive treatment, also called phase two. The objective at this stage is to align all of the teeth and establish the proper jaw relationships for ideal function and a beautiful smile. This second phase can take anywhere between 12 to 36 months depending on the severity of the case, and other factors.
After braces, most patients can expect to wear additional devices such as a retainer for an additional three to 10 years to ensure that the hard work and investment in braces pays off.
What factors can require the need for braces to be worn for longer?
Everyone is different, and you may not have an idea of how long braces will take until you have had an evaluation from a pediatric orthodontist. Once the braces are on, there can still be factors that vary the duration of your orthodontic treatment.
Here are some of the main factors that can affect how long braces take.
1. The Severity of Misalignment and How Crooked the Teeth Are
Braces are generally worn to straighten teeth when they are crowded and misaligned, and also fix issues such as an overbite, underbite, or crossbite. Logically, the more crooked the teeth are, and/or the more severe a jaw misalignment is, the longer braces can take to fix them.
2. Type of Braces You Wear
While traditional metal braces are far and away the most popular option, especially for younger patients, there are also other types of braces, such as ceramic braces or clear aligners, also called Invisalign®. There is some evidence to show that people wearing Invisalign have a shorter duration, but this also may be because clear aligners are generally recommended for less severe cases.
3. Your Habits, Maintenance, and Dedication
While orthodontists and the braces themselves do a lot of the work, patients are an essential piece of the puzzle. It is critical to take good care of your teeth, eat the right foods, and wear equipment properly to ensure that orthodontic treatment is effective and completed in a timely manner. Make sure to schedule and attend all appointments for checkups and adjustments, as skipping these can cause delays and extensions of your treatment.
Once the braces come off and you or your child are fitted for a retainer, it is important to wear the retainer and other equipment to make sure that the teeth and jaws stay aligned and that all of your time and hard work continue to result in a healthy and happy smile!
Keep Your Family’s Teeth Healthy with the Help of AC Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics
Going to the dentist or orthodontist can be scary — we get it. But it can and should be fun! Whether it’s care for baby teeth, big kid teeth, oral surgery, or orthodontics, our team of specialized pediatric dentists make the experience memorable while teaching you how to encourage healthy habits and good hygiene for lifelong smiles. Call us today or request an appointment online. We can’t wait to meet you!