If you are considering treatment to straighten your teeth, you might wonder how long your orthodontic treatment may take. The answer is – it depends.
First, the short answer. Orthodontic treatment typically takes between 12 and 36 months. Your treatment may take less time, or longer.
How long your orthodontic treatment will take depends on a number of factors. You can control some factors, but you cannot control others.
The jaws of younger patients are still growing and moving, so treatment time may be shorter. Braces for kids may work faster than braces for adults.
If you are like most people, you are getting braces because your teeth are crooked, spaced too far apart, or sticking out; poorly aligned teeth are a cosmetic problem, but they can also increase your risk for cavities, gum disease, and erosion of the tough enamel coating on your teeth. The duration of your treatment depends on how much straightening your teeth need – teeth that are slightly crooked may take just a few months to straighten, for example, while severely crooked teeth may require years of orthodontic treatment.
Dentists refer to the way your top and bottom teeth align as your “bite.” Types of bite problems include:
Underbite – occurs when the lower front teeth extend beyond the upper front teeth when your mouth is closed; orthodontists often recommend treating underbite while patients are still young, as the bone that holds teeth in place is more maleable
Overbite – also known as deep bite, occurs when the upper front teeth overlap your lower front teeth when your mouth is closed; lack of preventive care early in life can make correcting an overbite more difficult later in life
Crossbite – occurs when the top and bottom teeth bite in an incorrect overlapping position, or do not come together as they should
Open bite – when the upper and lower back or front teeth do not meet
Crowding – inadequate space in your mouth can cause overcrowded teeth; correction requires creating extra space by removing teeth, and this can take longer than simply shifting some teeth
Spacing – extra spaces between teeth are a cosmetic concern, rather than a health hazard
Treating a bite may take longer than straightening crooked teeth. People with severe bite problems can expect longer orthodontic treatment time, especially if correcting their bite requires surgical orthodontics.
There are several ways to straighten teeth, and some types of orthodontic treatment take longer than do others.
Metal braces – these traditional braces feature metal brackets and wires; often used to correct more severe issues, which can take longer to treat
Clear aligners – clear, plastic-like trays that you can remove to eat and brush; because they are often used to correct less severe malocclusions, treatment typically takes less time than with metal braces
Lingual braces – glued to the back of your teeth, lingual braces are highly effective at moving teeth quickly
Orthodontists sometimes recommend the use of orthodontic tools in addition to braces or aligners, and these tools could affect your treatment time.
Rubber bands – used to fix bite problems; failure to wear rubber bands as directed can lengthen treatment time
Palatal expanders – use gentle force to widen your jaw; may shorten orthodontic treatment time
Headgear – typically worn at night, headgear connects to your braces to correct jaw alignment issues
Following your orthodontist’s recommendations can help shorten the amount of time it takes to straighten your teeth. Wear rubber bands and headgear as directed, for example, and wear your clear aligner trays at least 22 hours per day. Follow your orthodontist’s advice when it comes to eating hard or sticky foods that can break your braces, as broken braces can affect how long you will have to wear them.
Invisalign can take less time than braces to straighten your teeth, especially if you wear them as directed. Invisalign can take 12 to 18 months.
Speak with your orthodontist about your concerns about how long your orthodontic treatment may take. If you are having trouble keeping your clear aligner trays in for at least 22 hours per day, for example, your orthodontist can help find ways to overcome any obstacles that prevent you from wearing them.
For more information about how long orthodontic treatment takes, make an appointment with Starling Orthodontics. We provide the orthodontic treatment Brentwood residents rely on and we can help you get straighter teeth fast.