Orthodontic treatment to address malocclusion issues is normally done via the use of braces. Every patient’s case is different and the orthodontist evaluates each patient’s teeth and the patient’s dental needs to decide how long treatment to correct the misalignment will take. After this initial evaluation, the orthodontist is able to answer the patient’s questions of approximately how long do braces stay on for.
The average time for the duration of treatment with braces ranges from one year and a half to three years. Some patients, however, can complete treatment in a slightly shorter time span. Others can expect their treatment to last beyond the three years. This all depends on the complexity of their misaligned teeth and bite issues. A simple case with a minor overbite and no other issues can be corrected in a shorter time than a case that requires extractions, or pulling of the teeth to deal with crowded teeth, as well as extrusions, or pulling teeth further from the gums, or major rotations of teeth.
The reason orthodontic treatment with braces normally takes longer than a year and a half is because the process of moving teeth into correct position is a delicate one and cannot be rushed. Braces are composed of brackets, arch wires and elastic or metal ties. Brackets are bonded to the teeth, either on the outside of the teeth or on the tongue side of the teeth, then the arch wire is threaded through the brackets and attached to each bracket with a small elastic ligature or a thin wire. The arch wire is adjusted about once a month to control the pressure that moves the teeth into the aligned position. Additionally, some users also need rubber bands attached to the top and bottom brackets to apply more pressure in a certain direction. If used properly and daily, these rubber bands, called inter arch elastics, help lower the total duration of the treatment.
During treatment with braces, the teeth are moved slowly, then given time for the teeth to rest and for bone to grow into the space around the teeth to support them. The teeth are somewhat loose during treatment and excessive pressure or rushed pressure can harm them, even causing a patient to lose a tooth. When a patient wonders how long do braces stay on for, she needs to consider that the total duration is designed to provide the best results while protecting the teeth. Additionally, once the braces are removed, patients will need to continue treatment for at least a year or two with the use of retainers, which can be removable or fixed.
There is a treatment with braces, however, that has a short duration. Known as Six Month Smile, this treatment last about six months, but is designed to only cosmetically correct the teeth, not focusing on major bite issues at all. It is also used in conjunction with other cosmetic dentistry treatments, such as applying veneers. This option is not available to all patients, and focuses on cosmetic results rather than major proper alignment.