Girl with braces holding toothbrushes

How Long Does Orthodontic Treatment Take?

How long do I have to wear my braces? This is a question that is very often asked by people considering orthodontic treatment and when they are already in treatment.

Orthodontic treatment can have different duration times for different people, depending on their individual needs and how severe the correction needs to be.

Some patients can be in treatment 3 years or over and some patients only require 12 months or less. On average, it takes about 24 months to complete orthodontic treatment.

The theory that everyone’s teeth and mouth are the same and that everyone receives the same type of orthodontic treatment is just not the case.

A lot of people assume that if they choose to have braces that their treatment will be the same as their friends who had braces, and the duration of treatment would also be the same which is not the case.

Even if your teeth look similar to the next person, there are many factors that are not obviously visible that play a role in how long and what type of treatment it will be.

A number of factors influence the duration of orthodontic treatment. Let’s look at the variables that may be determining factors in treatment duration:

The Age Of The Patient

How old you are can play a part on treatment time as children and teenagers are still growing.

This means that the jaw is still developing and for children, in some cases, their adult teeth have not fully erupted or their baby teeth are being stubborn and are still in place.

There is a first phase treatment option for this age group which can assist in correction early in teeth development. After adult teeth have fully erupted and the patient is ready for full orthodontic treatment, it may be faster and easier.

While a teenager is still developing (from a skeletal standpoint) it makes it far easier for orthodontic manipulation. Potentially adults can wear braces longer for a full comprehensive treatment outcome as they have finished growing and the biology is set.

However depending on the desired treatment outcome of the individual, there could be options to get the desired result within a year for some adults.

Severity of the Case

A major factor on the duration of orthodontic treatment would be the severity of the individual’s orthodontic case, and factors that are depending on this would be their dental and skeletal presentation.

The theory that everyone’s teeth and mouth are the same and that everyone receives the same type of orthodontic treatment is just not the case.

Noting that someone who presents with mild crowding and or spacing would more than likely be completing orthodontic treatment within a year or just over. However severe cases of crowding, narrow palates and jaw issues will take longer.

As an example, orthodontic issues such as teeth that have grown into the palate, will extend the length of treatment.

Patient Commitment

The patient plays a large role in their treatment duration.

The orthodontic team is there to help with the details on how to best look after and progress treatment. They will instruct on the importance of attending the allotted appointments, the relevance in good oral hygiene, what foods to avoid, the implication of not complying with elastic wear and how to best look after the braces or appliances.

However it is up to the individual to play their part in ensuring their treatment moves forward in the timely manner based on the orthodontists’ instructions. Non-compliance can extend treatment by a few weeks to a few months.

The Patient’s Biology

So far we’ve discussed factors that play a role being the age of person seeking treatment, the individual’s orthodontic case, and lastly the person’s commitment.

Whilst these all play a vital role in duration of treatment, another factor is the person’s biological make up.  Keeping this in mind everyone responds differently to treatment as teeth move at different speeds.

Final Thoughts

In the end if you would like a good indication on how long it will take to complete orthodontic treatment the best way is to have a consultation with an orthodontist who will examine the teeth and mouth and explain the treatment in detail and the approximate time of treatment.

The consultation is the best place to ask all the questions you may have about your teeth.

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