Time in Braces: Factors that Affect Your Treatment Rate

Man in braces with orthodontic braces holding magnifying glass

There is no way to know for sure how long you will wear braces until an orthodontist evaluates the position and alignment of your teeth. He will consider many variables including the condition of the teeth and gums, the space available in your mouth and the distance your teeth need to move. He will then develop your treatment plan, which will include an estimate of its duration.

The average length of time patients wear braces is one to two years. However, it all depends on the particular malocclusion that determines how long braces stay on—which in some cases means three years or more, or sometimes less than one year. Several factors affect the amount and type of work the orthodontist needs to complete.

Your Current Smile

The amount of adjustment your teeth and bones require will best predict your treatment rate. Teeth or bites that are severely misaligned will take longer to correct than those that need minor adjustments. The distance your teeth need to travel, as well as available space in your mouth for them to fit into their new positions will play a significant role. Your treatment will go faster when the teeth have to travel a short distance and there is room in your mouth for them to move.

Your Age

Your age when the orthodontist applies your braces will in part determine how long you will wear them. The younger you are, the faster your time in braces will be (relative to your treatment plan). This is because children’s bones and tissues are still growing, and take less time to adapt to changes than those of older teens or adults. However, the mechanical process used to move the teeth is the same in children and adults, so the time differences will be relatively minor.

The Type of Braces You Choose

The type of braces you choose for your orthodontic treatment also may affect its speed. Metal brackets are generally the fastest and most efficient at adjusting misaligned teeth. However, some patients prefer to stretch treatment a little longer to use braces that are less noticeable such as ceramic or Invisalign.

Your Dental Health And Hygiene

The orthodontist will provide instructions for caring for your teeth while in braces. Following these directions can ensure that you don’t spend longer in braces than your treatment plan stipulates. Gum inflammation or cavities resulting from poor oral hygiene can force the orthodontist to slow the rate of your treatment as he addresses your dental problems. In addition, broken brackets or wires resulting from eating chewy or crunchy foods can slow the re-alignment process.

Medications You Are Taking

According to the NIH, many medications can impact the rate of tooth movement. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen and aspirin all slow the rate of tooth movement when used frequently. This also is the case for fluorides, estrogen, corticosteroids and immunosuppressants. On the other hand, drugs such as thyroid hormone and Vitamin D increase the rate of movement. Here is a list of classes of medications that could interfere with orthodontic treatment. Do not begin or stop any medication without consulting your doctor.

No matter the length of your treatment, Orthodontic Associates will use state-of-the-art appliances, as well as revolutionary services and a wealth of orthodontic experience to provide you with the best possible experience in braces. You or your family member can choose from any of our nine convenient locations around Baltimore to set up your consultation. We look forward to making you smile.


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