November 22, 2016
Finding out you need braces is probably not the number one item on your Christmas wish list this year. If you’ve had the gift of orthodontic work unexpectedly dropped in your lap this holiday season, we know you have a lot of questions, and our team here at Dudley Smiles know one of the biggest is bound to be:
how long will I have to wear braces?
Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer for this. The length of time you’ll need to wear braces relies mainly on your particular circumstances.
There are three main factors that can help us estimate about how long it will take to create the perfect alignment for you, resulting in a stellar smile!
- Your age. Children often see results faster than adults. Research has shown that the earlier someone has braces put on, the faster the length of the treatment .
- The amount of correction needed. The more shifting we need to happen, the longer it’s likely to take.
- The type of braces you choose or need. Severe problems often require using traditional braces and may take a little longer to get the results you want. Milder issues may respond well to other types of braces that need less time to achieve the look you desire.
What you can expect with braces
After we examine your mouth, we’ll take X-rays, and then make plaster models of your teeth. This helps to give us a good estimate how long you’ll need to wear braces. It’s impossible to predict an exact timeline, but there are some general guidelines.
- Most patients will need to wear fixed braces for around 18 to 24 months.
- For problems that are harder to correct, or for our older patients, treatment may take up to three years.
- If you have less severe issues or are a good candidate for clear aligners like Invisalign, treatment may take as little as 6 to 18 months.
The role you play in your braces care
The good news is you can help control the length of time you’re in braces by carefully following our advice about proper oral hygiene and basic care for braces. To keep from having to wear your braces longer than expected, make sure you take these steps to get the best, and quickest, results:
- If you wear Invisalign aligners, take them out only as directed. You should aim to have them in for 20-22 hours per day, only removing them when you eat, brush your teeth, and floss. Don’t skip a day unless you have our okay first!
- If you have rubber bands attached to your braces or you wear any nighttime headgear, make sure you follow all directions you’re given carefully. They’re very important to keep the process on track.
- If you play any contact sports, we can fit you with a protective mouth guard! These will help protect your teeth and your braces.
- Avoid any foods that could damage your braces. Hard and sticky foods are your temporary enemies! These types of treats can break or displace your braces, or the wires that connect the brackets.
- Keep your teeth clean and healthy! This seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised by how many people slack off on this one after a while. Ask our experienced Dudley Smiles team how to care for your teeth and braces to help avoid any oral health problems that could mean keeping braces on longer.
Retain your braces results
A retainer goes on after your braces come off and is an important addition to your orthodontic care. No matter your age, a retainer helps keep your new smile in place by giving your gums and jaws time to get used to the new positions of your teeth.
It also helps to keep them in their new place, which has the added benefit of preventing other dental difficulties down the road. For example, straight teeth are actually much easier to clean, which keeps cavities and gum disease at bay. A correct bite also relieves unnecessary stress on bone and gum tissue.
The most common retainer is a small plastic plate that uses a thin piece of wire to hold your teeth in place, but they do come in a variety of designs. Some look similar to clear aligners that fit over your teeth. Retainers may be removable, or fixed in place. There are upper, lower, and pairs of retainers. You might need only one, or you may need a pair.
You’ll probably wear your retainer full-time for the first six months or so. If it’s removable, we’ll generally advise you to only take them out to eat and to brush and floss your teeth. Don’t worry — we’ll be sure to let you know the second you can switch to wearing your retainer only at night!
Because teeth tend to naturally move as we age, one of the best ways to keep your straight smile over the years is to continue using your retainer at night. Make sure to keep your retainer clean and in its protective case when not in your mouth.
Modern braces by Dudley Smiles
However long you may need treatment, you can rest assured that many of today’s braces are more comfortable and less noticeable than ever before. Modern orthodontics are a great option for any age, and braces remain a popular and effective method for straightening teeth and correcting bite. To explore the options we have available to Issaquah or Kent patients in need of braces, contact the Dudley Smiles team today to schedule your free – and fun! – consult.