The amount of time spent in orthodontic treatment is different for every patient. At the beginning of your treatment, your orthodontist may be able to provide you an estimate for how long treatment will take, however, there is no way to know exactly how long treatment will be. The average amount of time spent in braces is between 18-24 months.
There are several factors that go into the total treatment time. These include the age the patient is when treatment begins, the type of treatment that is used, the compliance of the patient, and how well the patient’s mouth responds to the treatment.
It is important to remember that every malocclusion is different, and therefore every treatment will be different. Some patients may see their treatment time go by in a flash, while friends feel their treatment has been taking much longer. It is important to remember not to compare treatment time to anyone else’s because each patient has a unique situation. One patient with an overbite may be able to complete treatment in 13 months, while another is still in treatment 27 months later. The important thing to remember is that each patient is unique and each malocclusion is different.
If you begin treatment by seeing an orthodontist at the age of 7 and beginning treatment at the recommended age, you may enjoy shorter treatment times than other patients. The reason we recommend seeing an orthodontist at the age of 7 is because then we have the advantage of a jaw that is still growing. That means that if Dr. Pavlo needs to guide the growth of the jaw, that can happen without surgical intervention because the jaw is still malleable. Waiting for treatment until after the jaw has stopped growing may make treatment more involved, and therefore it may take longer.
For some patients, the treatment option they choose may affect their treatment time, as well. There are numerous options that are more cosmetically pleasing, but there is a reason metal braces are still used. They are effective and efficient – both at moving teeth and on a family’s budget. Options such as clear aligners are great, however, they have a much higher degree of patient compliance required and therefore treatment time can be impacted.
Patient compliance is also a large factor in treatment time. You can lengthen the amount of time you are in braces by not following your orthodontist’s instructions. If you opt for clear aligner therapy, it is important that you stick to the schedule given by your orthodontist. Aligners should be worn a minimum of 22 hours a day to be effective, so even though they are removable, that doesn’t mean you can take them out whenever you want. Likewise, the schedule in which you are to wear the aligner sets should be adhered to. You may think you can speed up treatment by moving to a new aligner set before your orthodontist told you to, but you may actually throw your treatment completely off track.
Metal braces can also have a degree of patient compliance involved. If your treatment also involves adjustment of the bite and not just straightening, you may be prescribed elastics. These elastics connect from one bracket to another and work to provide the force necessary to achieve a movement that brackets and wires alone cannot achieve. Failure to wear your elastics as prescribed can lengthen your treatment time.
It is also important that you maintain all appointments with your dentist. Healthy teeth will respond much better to treatment, so be sure you are brushing and flossing as recommended and seeing your dentist every six months.