fbpx Skip to main content

You’ve taken the life-changing step of getting braces. Congratulations! Now that you’ve got them on, one of the first questions you might have is, “How long do braces take?” The simple answer is that everyone’s braces treatment is different. Just like your teeth and orthodontic issues are unique to you, how long you wear braces is also unlike anyone else’s timeline.

However, we’ve found that braces treatment typically goes from six to 30 months, with an average of about 22 months for standard treatment. How is your length of treatment decided? Experienced orthodontists like Dr. VanderWall use a few criteria like the ones below for determining how long you have braces so you can have a good idea of when you’ll be able to reveal your new smile! 

Factors That Determine How Long Your Braces Will Take

Here are four main factors that point to how long you’ll wear braces: 

  1. The complexity of your orthodontic issues
  2. Your age
  3. The health of your teeth
  4. The type of braces you choose 

1. The Complexity Of Your Orthodontic Issues

The biggest factor that dictates how long you’ll have braces is the severity of your case. And it makes sense that complex cases take longer. For example, braces for correcting only a few crooked teeth will take less time than if you have multiple issues happening simultaneously — like crooked teeth, gaps and a bad bite. 

Seeing an orthodontist early can prevent severe having orthodontic problems later. That’s why the American Orthodontists Association recommends that your first orthodontic appointment happen at around age seven. 

By this age, a few adult teeth have grown in and your jaw shape is pretty much established. An orthodontist like Dr. VanderWall can see potential problems and alleviate them with early orthodontic treatment. Or, if immediate treatment isn’t needed, he can monitor your child’s teeth as they grow and let you know when to start treatment before issues become severe.

One thing Dr. VanderWall considers when estimating how long your braces will take is how far your teeth have to move to get to their ideal spots. Whether you have twisted teeth that need to rotate, upper teeth that need to move down, or teeth that need shifting to fill gaps, the science behind moving teeth takes time. So teeth that have a ways to go naturally need more time than those that just need slight adjustment. Want the science behind how braces work? Here are the mechanics of wearing braces:

How Teeth Move With Braces

Teeth are attached to your jawbone by periodontal ligaments. When braces exert a pulling pressure to move them, the ligaments on one side of your teeth compress, while the ligaments on the other side stretch.

In response, the bone on the compressed side loses blood supply and your body’s natural inflammation process kicks in. Cells called osteoclasts arrive and the bone breaks down so that your teeth are free to move with your braces. On the stretched-ligament side, cells called osteoblasts begin building new bone to form around the teeth, securing them in place. Eventually, the periodontal ligaments tighten back up and a retainer is needed to help the ligaments and secure your teeth’s new positions.

2. Your Age Informs How Long Braces Will Take

Does a patient’s age matter when it comes to how long braces are on? Simply put, yes. As you might have guessed, adult orthodontic treatment typically takes longer than having braces in your teenage years or younger. Adult teeth have sat securely in their positions for longer and take more effort and time to move. Faster braces treatment is possible with teens and kids since their teeth shift easier: their jaws are still growing, and their teeth are still moving.

With age comes the potential for oral health issues or dental trauma that can affect how long you have braces. Any unresolved problems like cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease must be cleared up before you can start braces treatment. Issues like cracked or chipped teeth also must be looked at before braces. 

3. The Relationship Between Your Oral Health and Wearing Braces

Ok, so it’s not just adults who have to factor in their oral health when it comes to how long you have braces. Good or bad oral health impacts everyone wearing an appliance, no matter their age. Problems like cavities and gum disease can prolong braces treatment whether you’re 11-years-old or 60! 

Depending on where your oral health issues sit, your orthodontist might have to remove your braces temporarily so your dentist can access your teeth. And removing your braces for any length of time typically results in prolonged treatment. Your teeth’s natural inclination is to start moving back to their original positions, so pausing braces treatment can set back your progress.

4. The Type of Braces You Choose

Gone are the days when you had only one braces option. At VanderWall Orthodontics, we offer four modern braces: innovative LightForce braces, modern metal braces, clear ceramic braces, and InBrace® lingual braces. Like we said at the top of this post, everyone’s teeth are different, so we provide braces to suit every smile goal — plus your lifestyle and budget. That said, the type of braces you choose also determines how long it takes to transform your smile.

LightForce Braces – Of our four braces options, LightForce braces are known to have shorter treatment times, making them relatively fast braces when compared with the others. These fully custom braces are 3D printed to each patient’s exact teeth contours, so you get the most personalized braces experience available.

Metal Braces – Stainless steel metal braces are known for their durability, which is great to consider when considering that damage to your braces can prolong your treatment time. The brackets on metal braces can also withstand more pressure than ceramic brackets, so your teeth might move faster with metal braces than with ceramic ones.

Ceramic Braces – Ceramic braces have a leg up on metal braces when it comes to looks. Clear ceramic brackets and a thin wire make them less noticeable and much more discreet than metal braces.

InBrace Lingual Braces – These behind-the-teeth braces can sometimes take the longest to move your teeth. However, you save time when wearing them because you don’t have adjustments appointments like you do with metal or ceramic braces.  

Many people choose InBrace lingual braces because you can’t see them — they’re attached to the backs of your teeth. The memory wire system also promises more comfort and easier cleaning.

And Clear Aligners? How Long Does Invisalign Take?

We’ve talked at length about braces. But we understand that some patients are more interested in getting Invisalign instead. So how long does Invisalign take? Is Invisalign faster than braces? Or are braces faster than Invisalign?

Again, the answer is: it depends on your unique case. You might have heard that only mild orthodontic issues are fixable with Invisalign. But you’ll be happy to hear that as a leading provider of Invisalign in Cary, Durham and Raleigh, NC, most patients are candidates for clear aligner treatment with Dr. VanderWall. Even those with more complex cases. The best way to find out if Invisalign is faster and better for you than braces is to schedule a complimentary consultation with us at VanderWall Orthodontics. 

But, really, how long do you have to wear Invisalign? Typically, Invisalign can take less than a year to straighten teeth up to a couple of years, similar to braces. To answer the question, “How long does it take for Invisalign to work?” you also have to consider how well you stick to your wearing schedule (22 hours a day, every day). And just like braces, if you damage your appliance or have oral health issues that put a pause on treatment, you might have to go a little longer to get the smile results you want.

How to Get Braces or Invisalign Off Faster?

Essentially, the type of teeth-straightening appliance you choose plus your teeth’s natural mechanics equals how fast braces or Invisalign will work for you. However, here are a few tips for how to get your braces off faster… or at least not make your treatment time longer.

Good oral hygiene – As we mentioned earlier, cavities, tooth decay and gum disease can halt your teeth straightening. So to avoid delays, it’s important to practice diligent oral hygiene with braces. That means brushing at least twice a day and flossing once, eating teeth-healthy foods, and minimizing your consumption of acidic drinks that can hurt your enamel.

WIth Invisalign, ensure you clean your Invisalign trays daily to eliminate sugars and food debris.

Seeing your dentist twice a year – Along with diligent, at-home oral care, remember to go in for a check-up and cleaning with your dentist twice a year. This way, you get a deep, professional clean to keep your teeth sparkling, and your dentist can catch and treat any potential oral health issues early.

Going to all your check-in or adjustment appointments – It’s important to visit us at VanderWall Orthodontics at the scheduled times. Whether you need a quick check-in or it’s time for tightening and adjustments, seeing us at the right times ensures your smile is on-track and your treatment is going efficiently.

Following your prescribed wearing schedule – This one’s for Invisalign wearers. Yes, you take them out when you eat, clean your teeth, or when drinking anything other than water. And that pretty much adds up to the two hours you can have your aligners out per day. The remaining 22 hours are needed to effectively and efficiently move your teeth within your prescribed timeframe.

That said, we understand it’s tempting to take out your Invisalign clear aligners for certain occasions. Maybe you have a big presentation or dinner out with a special someone… or you just feel like you want a break. If you do, you may end up extending the time you need Invisalign. 

And remember, always switch your trays to the next set as instructed to stay on track and progress smoothly towards your final smile.

Efficient Care With VanderWall Orthodontics

The expert, quality care we provide at VanderWall Orthodontics means you’re off to a great start if you want a healthy, beautiful smile efficiently. Whether your treatment goes by fast or as expected, with braces or Invisalign, our goal is always that our patients get outstanding results and enjoy the experience. 

Contact us today for your complimentary consultation!

Dr. Clay VanderWall

Author Dr. Clay VanderWall

Dr. VanderWall attended Kalamazoo College, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Health Sciences. He spent a semester doing research at the Dental Research Center of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill where he wrote his Senior Individualized Project (SIP). He furthered his studies at the University of Detroit-Mercy School of Dentistry, receiving his Doctor of Dental Surgery in 1999. He graduated with honors and was inducted into the national dental honor society, Omicron Kappa Upsilon (OKU). He also received the Pierre Fauchard Academy Student Award and was a recipient of the Health Professions Scholarship from the United States Navy.

More posts by Dr. Clay VanderWall