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How Long Do You Have to Wear Braces? Length of Orthodontic Treatment

Natalie Asmussen
Natalie Asmussen
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Azariy Yusupov, DDS
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Did you recently get adult braces and are wondering how long you need to wear them? There are several factors that impact how long you need for braces treatment.

Your wear time will depend on:

  • The type of braces you have
  • 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 your orthodontics treatment will take.

What’s the shortest time you can have braces?

On average, you can expect it to take one to two years to complete orthodontic treatment with metal braces or clear braces. However, the treatment time depends on the person. Some patients only need to wear braces for a few months.

how long do you have to wear braces
Treatment time depends on type of braces

If you have an open bite or need your jaw alignment corrected, it will add to the treatment time. 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 solution 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 dentist and orthodontist will help shorten the length of treatment.

How long does it take to straighten teeth with braces?

It can take between 3 and 24 months to improve crooked teeth, depending on your treatment plan and desired results. If you have severe alignment issues, it will take more time. If you have only slight alignment issues, it will take less time to achieve the desired results.

Ask a dentist: How long does the initial phase of braces last?

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 your braces treatment will take is to talk with your orthodontist. They will let you know what your unique case is and how long it will take to treat. Plus, 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. Your orthodontist will tighten braces gradually. This is because your teeth are attached to 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 your braces on for a bit because of your gums and soft tissue. The brackets and wires keep everything in place until the tissues harden.

You will also need to wear a retainer at night, ideally 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 while wearing braces and after they come off.

Can you have braces for 6 months?

braces treatment time
Clear aligners take around 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 three months, appealing to many adult patients. But aligners are generally more suited to correcting a mild overbite or minor spacing problems.

If you are interested, book an appointment to discuss your options and cost with your orthodontist. They will let you know whether this short-duration treatment will work for you or if you should stick with traditional brackets. Depending on the patient, this option is available for both adults and children.

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. You'll need to consider the following factors.

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 and whether you can straighten teeth without braces.

Metal braces and clear aligners

If you have metal braces or clear aligners, 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 ortho for regular adjustments. Additionally, if you require severe alignment correction, traditional metal braces may be your only option.

Metal braces will limit your ability to whiten your teeth, but clear aligners can be combined with whitening treatments.

Ceramic braces

If you are using ceramic braces, you can expect the treatment to take longer. The material can't withstand as much tension as traditional metal braces can, making the process require more time.

Lingual braces

Lingual braces are unique. They 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. However, 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 kid, as their mouth is harder and more “set”.

Patient compliance

Finally, if patients follows the instructions of the dental professional, they can expect to complete the process easier (and faster). When orthodontists don't get their patient's complete compliance, the treatment can run into problems, causing it to take even longer.

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.

Having proper oral hygiene and using rubber bands correctly will help while wearing braces.


So, how long do you have to wear braces? Now you know that the treatment time depends on:

  • Your teeth
  • Whether you choose traditional braces or clear aligners
  • Your age

Children who are still growing tend to respond the best to braces, but treatment is still a good option for many adults too.

For those who are still unsure, talk with your dentist at your next appointment. They'll be happy to advise you about your options.

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