These days, you’re able to use a search engine to find the answer to almost any question in seconds, you can reach family members who live across the country instantly with a text message, and you have the ability to buy things online and have them arrive on your doorstep in a day. Considering we’ve become accustomed to getting what we need at lightning speed, the process of straightening your teeth with braces can seem long.
Why Do Braces Take So Long To Work?
While advances in orthodontics have shortened the average braces treatment time significantly, instant results will never be possible. Your braces have to work with natural biological processes in your body to straighten your teeth and align your jaw. How long braces take will depend on the severity of your case and how your body responds to treatment. In the grand scheme of things, however, braces treatment is just a small blip in time and the amazing smile you’ll get at the end will be well worth it.
In this post, we’ll cover:
- How do braces work?
- How long do braces take?
- Why do braces take so long?
- Which braces work faster?
- The keys to finishing your braces treatment on time
How Do Braces Work?
First and foremost, it’s important to understand how braces work. There are different types of braces, including metal braces, clear braces, and self-ligating braces. While the appearance and engineering might be slightly different, they all consist of brackets, which are bonded to your teeth, and archwires, which run through the brackets.
After Dr. Richard Chan has a chance to assess your smile and evaluate your diagnostic records at your consultation, he will develop a personalized treatment plan. Your treatment plan is what will determine when and where each tooth in your mouth will move. Once your braces are on, Dr. Chan will place very small and light wires into the brackets, and as the wires attempt to return to their original shape, they will put pressure on the teeth and gradually guide them into their ideal places.
For certain cases, in order to get the leverage necessary to simultaneously align the jaw, your braces will be paired with auxiliaries like rubber bands and/or temporary anchorage devices (TADs). Your braces will straighten your teeth in each arch and the auxiliaries will make sure the top and bottom teeth come together correctly.
How Long Do Braces Take?
So, how long do braces take? Every patient is unique and, as we said, how long braces last will depend on your specific orthodontic problem and how severe it is, as well as how quickly your body responds to treatment. In general, our Alaska, Bothell, Monroe, Mill Creek and Everett, WA braces patients are in treatment for between 12 and 30 months.
The shortest braces treatment typically involves mild orthodontic problems that are related to the positioning of the teeth, such as slight crowding or gaps between the teeth. If your problem is skeletal (related to the jaw), such as an overbite, underbite, or crossbite, treatment will take longer, especially if the issue is severe. This is because we won’t only be aligning the teeth, we will also be ensuring the upper and lower teeth come together in the correct positions to create a healthy bite.
Why Do Braces Take So Long?
Now, the million dollar question: Why do braces take so long? Your teeth are held firmly in your mouth by your jawbone, periodontal ligaments, and gum tissue. As your braces exert pressure, it causes your bone and tissue to break down and your periodontal ligaments to loosen, allowing the teeth to move where we direct them. Then, new bone needs to form and your ligaments need to tighten back up to secure your teeth in their newly aligned positions. As you can imagine, this process, called bone remodeling, takes time.
When it comes to how long it takes for braces to start working, you might notice small changes as early as four to six weeks after getting your braces put on. But, the bigger changes, which are what will give you lasting, stable results, are happening below your gums as old bone disappears and new bone develops. These changes take longer.
Additionally, while super fast braces might sound like a good idea, they’re not. Too much force, too quickly can damage your teeth and jaw. In order to get the results you want in a way that is safe and supports your oral health, it’s important that the pressure from your braces is applied to your teeth gently and consistently. As a certified specialist in orthodontics, Dr. Chan has the training and experience to determine the perfect amount of force to make this happen.
Which Braces Work Faster?
Of course, everyone wants to know which braces work faster. A fellow orthodontist, Dr. Vladimir Tabakman of Houston Orthodontic Specialists, summed it up perfectly in a post when he said, “Your teeth move in response to pressure and it doesn’t matter whether the force is coming from self-ligating braces, conventional braces or clear aligners. Your teeth don’t know or care what brand of braces or type of appliance is used to shift them into place.”
The Keys to Finishing Your Braces Treatment on Time
Some of the factors that determine how long it takes for braces to work are beyond your control. But, the good news is, there are a number of things you can do to make sure you don’t prolong the process and that you’re able to get the shortest braces treatment time possible for your case. Follow these tips for treatment success:
- Maintain excellent oral hygiene throughout your braces treatment. Brush your teeth in the morning, after meals and snacks, and before bed using a fluoride toothpaste. Be sure to floss your teeth once daily too. You might also want to consider using an interproximal brush to clean the tight spaces around your brackets. Adding a water flosser to the mix can be helpful as well for eliminating any lingering plaque. Teeth move most efficiently in a healthy mouth, and getting cavities with braces could mean having to have your appliance removed so the problem can be treated. When the mouth is dirty, inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) occurs, and this can slow down the movement of the teeth.
- Follow Dr. Chan’s instructions. If you’ve been given auxiliaries like rubber bands, wearing them according to plan will allow them to do their job. While wearing the rubber bands as instructed may help you get your braces off on time or even early, wearing them less time than instructed might significantly extend your time in braces. In fact, this is the number one cause of extended treatment!
- Keep your braces safe by avoiding really hard, chewy, and sticky foods and wearing a mouthguard when playing sports. Frequently damaging your braces and needing to have them repaired could lengthen your treatment.
- Don’t skip your appointments. During your regular check-ups, Dr. Chan makes adjustments to keep the teeth moving into place and ensures your treatment is on track. If he spots an issue, he can step in early and fix it so that your progress isn’t interrupted.
Understanding why braces take so long and the steps to follow to keep your treatment on schedule can help you breeze through the process and get the beautiful, healthy smile you deserve. At Richard Chan Orthodontics, we use the latest technology and advanced appliances to give you the shortest braces treatment time in a way that’s safe and effective. To find out your options for braces in Mill Creek, Monroe, Bothell, and Everett, WA or Juneau, AK, schedule a complimentary consultation with Dr. Richard Chan today!