This is a question that is asked probably almost as frequently as “when will my treatment be done?” And in much the same way, it won’t always have the same answer for every brace wearer.
The shift in your teeth’s position is gradual. And that is by design. There are biomechanics that dictate how your teeth will best move into their new positions and it requires a stepwise approach, allowing the correct amount of time for the movement to set properly.
Your tooth movement requires bone to be broken down on the side the tooth is being pulled towards (known as resorption) and then to be “grown” (known as deposition) on the side of the tooth which holds it in its new position.
When Will the Change Become Noticeable?
There are a variety of factors that affect the rate at which your teeth will start to shift. The reason that orthodontists give a range is because your treatment schedule is set according to your individual requirements.
As a general rule, your total time in braces will be between 18 and 24 months. In that time, you can start to actually notice the changes in your teeth’s appearance as early as four weeks from being fitted. But two or three months is the average expectation.
This ArchWired thread looks at some of the experiences that brace wearers had with noticing the change. The range of malocclusions is fairly wide and so the treatment times and noticeable changes are, too.
Why Does It Take This Long?
Adjusting your teeth is done incrementally using varied forces, to maximize movement in the shortest period of time. Basically, it is done as quickly as possible without doing it too quickly—both of which have their potential downsides.
If the movement is too slow, it can result in the root resorption (shortening of the roots). Too quickly and, along with greater discomfort, the supporting bone won’t have enough time to grow the bone for proper support. There is also an increased risk of root resorption.
Your Orthodontist’s Timetable
Rest assured, as quickly as you would like to be out of your braces, your orthodontist is trying to get you out of them just as quickly—but it won’t be at the expense of a winning smile and healthy bite. Taking shortcuts or extending treatment can have detrimental long-term effects that don’t benefit anyone.
So while you are looking for the telltale signs that your teeth are moving towards that perfect smile, your braces and other appliances will doing their part to make sure that there is healthy bite to go along with it.
Picture The Difference
The changes can be subtle enough that you might not be aware of them at all. If you want to keep tabs on the change, take a photo at the beginning of every month and compare them. This is where you will notice the actual difference. Apps like Lapse It can help you capture the whole experience from start to finish as a sequence.
If you’re wondering what that can look like, here is a time lapse video from a treatment over 18 months:
To keep the process moving along as closely to schedule as possible, following your doctor’s instructions regarding dental hygiene and appliance maintenance are vital. Otherwise your treatment can be pushed back.