How long braces take to straighten teeth depends on many factors. Time spent preparing your mouth for braces, your age, degree of teeth grinding, bone density, metabolic rate, and your orthodontic objectives play the largest roles in determining how long braces take to straighten teeth. Patient cooperation, such as maintaining the braces and keeping appointments, will also play a role.
Your orthodontist will be interested in much more than just how crooked your teeth are. Orthodontists specialize in the movement of teeth and the function of the jaw, as well as in the aesthetics of the face. For this reason, how long it takes for braces to straighten teeth will depend on many factors besides just how much straightening your smile needs.
Upon your initial consultation, your orthodontist should be able to give you a time estimate for how long braces will take to straighten your teeth, based on their experience with patients who have had similar orthodontic issues in the past. Most of the time, braces are worn not only to straighten teeth but to alter your bite and the way your jaw functions.
Questions your orthodontist will ask themselves while evaluating your mouth for braces include whether any of your teeth are straight, whether the teeth meet properly, and whether the jaw hurts, clicks, or moves normally. They will also be checking to see if all baby teeth have fallen out and whether all adult teeth have grown in. The amount of crowding and gaps in the mouth and whether gums and teeth look generally healthy will be observed and noted as well. Your orthodontist will likely also want to know if you have had any issues with speaking or breathing.
Simple spacing issues take the least amount of time to correct. If your bite needs correcting, this will add to the total time, as well as what sort of correction your bite needs, such as whether you have an overbite, underbite, or other bite alignment problem.
Extractions and waiting for teeth to grow in will also add to the total time it takes for braces to straighten teeth. When teeth need to be extracted, time between extractions and rate of healing will play a role. Often, braces are not applied all at once, especially when extractions are necessary or if the patient is waiting on any adult teeth to finish coming in.
Other types of dental surgery, such as a jaw correction surgery, may need to be performed first to ensure that the mouth is fully prepared for braces. You may only actually wear the braces for a year and a half or so, but surgeries and extractions can take months, in some cases, before a full set of braces are even applied to the teeth.
After initial consultation and any other orthodontic and dental issues are addressed, braces are normally worn for a minimum of six months, on up to three years or more. The average patient spends about two years with traditional braces. Movement in the teeth can often be seen as early as four to eight weeks from the date of application of braces.
Braces take time to straighten teeth not only due to the preparation involved, but also because braces are slowly shifting your teeth, teeth that are deeply embedded in the jawbone. For this process to remain relatively painless and to provide safe, lasting results, braces must be adjusted slowly over time.
Younger patients, typically lagged 10 – 14 years, will tend to see results faster than adult patients. This is primarily due to children’s bones being softer than adult bones as well as the higher metabolic rates of children, especially those in the puberty phase.
Finally, patients should not underestimate the importance of compliance when wearing braces. Care should be taken not to break or loosen any brackets by maintaining good dental hygiene and not eating hard or sticky foods that may harm your dental work. Rubber bands should be worn as directed, as well as any retainers or devices prescribed upon removal of braces. Keeping appointments for tightening, additions, and adjustments matter just as much as anything else in how long braces take to straighten teeth.
If you are considering braces, call us today. We have all the answers you are looking for.