It’s one of the most common questions patients have during their consultations with us—how long do you have to wear braces? In a perfect world, we’d be able to give everyone a clear answer so they know exactly what to expect and can mark the precise day on their calendar when they’ll be done with their braces for good. The reality is a little more complicated—there are a number of factors at play, which means some people may only need braces for a year or less, while others could need braces for two or even three years.
The Average Treatment Time for Braces
For the average patient, braces need to be worn for one to two years, but as with everything, there are outliers. It’s possible to need braces for less than a year or even more than three years.
While it’s helpful to know the average treatment time, it’s important to understand that the only way to know how long you’ll need to wear braces is to come in for a consultation. As mentioned above, we can’t give you an exact timeline, but we can give you a good estimate.
Factors That Impact Your Treatment Time
Perhaps the most important factor in your treatment time for braces is the extent of orthodontic correction that is needed. Patients that only have minor misalignments in their teeth won’t need braces as long as patients who have severe bite issues in addition to misalignments. If you’ve been told you have an open bite, underbite, cross bite, or deep bite, you can expect to wear braces longer. Impacted teeth are another wild card that can extend treatment time.
Although you don’t have any control over how much orthodontic correction you need, you do have control over another factor in your treatment time: following our instructions. If you disregard the food restrictions we provide you and eat sticky candy or chew on ice, it’s likely that you will break off a bracket at some point; whenever this occurs, it adds time to your orthodontic treatment. If you make a habit of this, it has the potential to delay getting your braces off by months because whenever a bracket comes off, your teeth aren’t moving as they should and even relapsing.
Skipping appointments, not wearing elastics or other orthodontic appliances as directed, and poor hygiene can all cause you to have to wear your braces longer than you might have planned. Even when you feel that your teeth look fine, it’s important not to remove braces too soon because it takes time for your bones to set, which ensures lasting results.
The other way to guarantee that your beautiful new smile lasts a lifetime is to wear your retainers after your time in braces is complete. Once your braces are removed, it doesn’t mean your orthodontic treatment is done—it just means you’re ready for the next phase!