If you want straighter teeth you may have been wondering how long do braces take? Or maybe you recently started treatment with braces and are wondering how long you need to wear them?
Well, there are several factors that impact how long braces take to work, these include:
- Type of braces
- The amount of dental correction needed
- Your age
- How well you comply with wear time if you have removable braces
We break down all these factors in this article so you can get the best idea of how long it will take to straighten your teeth.
Table of contents
How long do you have to wear braces?
On average, you can expect it to take one to two years to complete treatment with metal braces or clear braces. However, the amount of time depends on the person and how much work they need to improve their smile, and some patients only need to wear them for a few months.
If you have an open bite or need your jaw alignment corrected, treatment may take much longer. And, in some cases, you may need to wear an orthodontic appliance for up to a year before starting braces. Some patients can get away with wearing traditional braces for less than a year.
It's different for all patients
Orthodontic treatment is different for every patient — there is no single answer for everyone. You should talk with your orthodontist for the most accurate estimate for your wearing time.
Some people need to leave their braces on for three years. However, following all the advice of your orthodontist will help shorten the length of treatment. And if you're wondering how to remove braces at home — the answer is don't! Always have a professional do it for you.
How long do braces take to straighten teeth?
It can take between 3 and 24 months to improve crooked teeth, depending on your treatment plan and desired results. If you have complex alignment issues, it will take more time to adjust your teeth. If you have only slight alignment issues, it will take less time to achieve the desired results.
The professional orthodontist will level and align your teeth into the desired position during the initial
phase of therapy.
This will be achieved by adjusting your braces at the clinic every four to eight weeks, so
your teeth continue moving in the direction you want them to.
Dr Azariy Yusupov, DDS, Amazing Smiles Orthodontics
The best way to know how long braces take is to talk with your dentist or orthodontist. They will let you know what your unique case is and how long it will take to treat. And, if you follow all of their directions, you can ensure it takes the minimum time necessary.
Why do braces take so long?
You may be wondering why it takes so long to complete orthodontic treatment. The answer is that braces need to gently move the teeth into position in a slow and gradual manner. This is because your teeth are attached to the bone inside your mouth — thus, there is no way to quickly move them into position safely.
Furthermore, once your teeth move into the correct position, you still need to have them on for a bit because of your gums and soft tissue. The brackets and wires keep everything in place until the tissues harden.
The following video shows how braces work, so you can see why it may take a long time for them to straighten your teeth.
Once your treatment is complete, you will also need to wear a retainer at night. You will ideally need to wear this retainer for the rest of your life, as your teeth could move back once the braces are off. However, there is nothing to worry about if you follow your dentist's instructions and maintain good oral health.
Can you have braces for 6 months?
There are treatment options available for those who want to get their braces off quickly. Six Month Smiles is a special orthodontic method that works without brackets. You can plan on getting your final results within six months, depending on your oral health situation.
Many brands of at-home aligners also promise treatment times as short as four months, appealing to many adult patients. SmileDirectClub and Newsmile are two such examples. As well as offering fast treatment, they have the added benefit of a low cost. However, not everyone is a good candidate for this type of treatment. Take an assessment to see if they would work for you, or browse more details below.
- Free scans at 17 UK SmileShop locations
- Nighttime aligners available
- Lifetime Smile Guarantee™
- £1,639 or £69.43/month + free teeth whitening
SmileDirectClub has been offering aligner treatment at home for over 8 years, making them one of the most experienced companies in this market.
Treatment takes 4-6 months on average, or 10 months for nighttime-only aligners. Their UK-based customer care is available 24/7 should you need to reach out at any time.
There are several ways you can get started:
- Take a smile assessment to see if you're eligible
- Order a home impression kit
- Visit a SmileShop for free scans (17 UK locations)
Every aligner package comes with free bright on™ teeth whitening, so you can whiten your teeth while you straighten them!
- Free retainers and whitening
- Nighttime aligners available
- 0% interest finance options
£1,395£1,295 or £83.33/month
NewSmile is a Canadian company that brought its clear aligners to the UK market in 2022. NewSmile aligners are made from the clearest material and the company offers excellent service at the best price.
They don't have any physical locations, so you'll need to purchase an aligner kit to get started. One of their Impression Specialists will guide you through the process on a video call when you're ready.
NewSmile aligners are very affordable, costing just £1,395 (currently discounted to £1,295). But even better, this price includes whitening foam to use in your aligners, plus your first set of retainers!
Choose their daytime package for treatment in 4-6 months, or nighttime aligners for a more discreet treatment that takes 8-10 months. Both options come with 0% interest payment plans available.
If you are interested in any kind of orthodontic work, we recommend you have a dental checkup before commencing. Your dentist will check for any problems that should be treated first, like cavities or gum disease.
It is important to note that with any braces or aligner treatments, however long they take, you will need to wear a retainer at night, likely for the rest of your life. This is to make sure your teeth don't move back to their old positions.
What affects the length of orthodontic treatment?
Each orthodontic case is different. Some people require more advanced treatment due to severe alignment issues, whereas others require little treatment. If you need braces to correct any orthodontic issues, your treatment may take longer. But, if you need braces for purely cosmetic reasons your treatment may take a shorter amount of time. You'll need to consider the following factors.
Your age can have an effect on the length of treatment time, with children and teenagers generally having a shorter treatment time. This is due to the fact that their jaws and bites are still growing and changing shape and are therefore more easily guided into the desired positions.
But, you may be wondering, how old do you have to be to get braces? While it's never too late to benefit from orthodontic treatment, orthodontists say that the ideal age to get braces is about 12 – 13 years old. And, sometimes even younger if early treatment may prevent future orthodontic issues.
Types of orthodontic treatment
First of all, the type of treatment plan you choose will determine the amount of time it takes to correct your bite.
Metal braces and clear aligners
If you have train track braces it will take anywhere from several months to three years for the treatment to correct your bite. These types of braces are the most effective orthodontic treatment available, and you visit your orthodontist for regular adjustments.
Traditional fixed braces may hurt more than other types of braces or clear aligners, but they can generally treat more complex issues. If you require severe alignment correction, traditional braces may be your only option.
Self-ligating braces are very similar to conventional braces but have a slightly shorter treatment time due to their efficiency. However, clear aligners have even shorter treatment times than either option.
This study shows that clear aligners have a shorter treatment time than traditional braces. However, it does point out that those that straighten teeth without braces generally have less complex alignment issues.
Metal braces will also limit your ability to whiten your teeth, but clear aligners can be combined with whitening treatments. Clear aligners can also hurt less than metal braces, but that can also be due to the fact that they treat less complex orthodontic problems.
If you are using white braces, you can expect the treatment to take longer. The material can't withstand as much tension as traditional braces can, making the process require more time.
Lingual braces are placed on the inside of the teeth and can not be seen by others, making them popular for adults who need to wear braces. This type of braces is unique, but they have a longer treatment time.
Your orthodontist will start by using x-rays on your teeth so they can accurately determine where your braces need to be applied. The process requires more appointments because this dental treatment is harder to adjust than the alternative options.
Severity of issues
Next, the complexity of your oral issue determines how long it could take to treat. If you have a bad bite or jaw, it can take longer to get the best possible smile. Additionally, an adult may need to wear them longer than a child, as their mouth is harder and more “set”.
Finally, if patients follow their dentist's instructions properly, they can expect to complete the process quicker and easier. When patient's don't follow instructions correctly, the treatment can run into problems increasing their treatment time.
This can be particularly problematic when it comes to removable aligners. If you are a parent, make sure your child follows the orthodontist's instructions.
Brushing with braces correctly and maintaining good oral hygiene will help while wearing braces.
So, how long do braces take? Well, now you know that the treatment time depends on:
- Your teeth
- Whether you choose traditional braces or clear aligners
- Your age
- Your compliance
Children who are still growing tend to respond the best to braces as their jaws are still growing, but they are still a good option for many adults too.
It is important to look after your oral hygiene and dental health as this can impact your treatment time as well.
If you're searching for a quick treatment option, SmileDirectClub could be a good choice. Their aligner treatment takes 4-6 months on average and costs less than traditional braces. Check now to see if you're a good candidate!
For those who are still unsure, speak with your dentist at your next appointment. They'll be happy to advise you about your options.
How long do braces take?
Braces can take between 1 and 3 years to work and the treatment to be complete. However, every person has a different severity of misalignment so there is no set timescale. It can also depend on other factors such as the type of braces, patient compliance, and age.
How long do braces take for adults and children?
Children's teeth move faster in comparison to adult teeth, so a common misconception is that braces take longer for adults. But they generally have shorter treatment times. This is because adults are better at following the dentist's instructions correctly and are better at maintaining their oral health.
NCBI. A comparison of treatment effectiveness between clear aligner and fixed appliance therapies. Consulted on 3rd August 2021.