How long does it take to straighten teeth?

Having braces fitted is a simple and effective way of straightening a crooked smile or fixing underlying jaw issues. But many people dramatically underestimate how long it can take.

More often than not, you’re in it for the medium-to-long haul when it comes to braces. 12-18 months isn’t unheard of, and it can sometimes stretch to 2-3 years.

However, with the right treatment options and expert care from specialist orthodontists, you can get the best results quickly — even if time is short!

Why straighten teeth? 

Although you might associate them more with younger people, it’s simply not true that braces are only for children. Braces are a viable and effective treatment option for anyone: 

  • Looking to straighten their teeth and improve their smile;
  • Having difficulty chewing due to crooked, crowded or misaligned teeth;
  • Dealing with serious jaw pain or discomfort;
  • Or suffering from sleep apnoea due to a misaligned jaw.

What are the treatment options for straighter teeth?

In order to straighten your teeth and either enhance your smile or overcome one of the issues described above, you’ll need braces

Braces work by consistently exerting pressure on your teeth for extended periods of time. During the course of the treatment, your teeth and jaw will gradually adapt to the desired shape to relieve this pressure.

There are a number of types of braces available, including:

  • Traditional braces, which are metal brackets glued individually to each tooth. A wire puts pressure on your teeth and jawline, and elastic O-rings attach the wire to the brackets.
  • Lingual braces, which are applied behind your teeth as opposed to the front. Often called “invisible braces”, this is the best (and only) form of non-visible fixed orthodontic therapy.
  • Invisalign, which straighten your teeth using a series of nearly invisible, removable aligners. These are custom-made specifically for your teeth. As you replace each aligner every two weeks, your teeth will – little by little, week by week – move gradually towards the projected final position.

How long does each option take to straighten teeth?

The short answer is, it depends — and the type of braces you choose won’t always dictate how long it takes to achieve your desired result. 

Instead, the treatment time will often be determined by how quickly your teeth move; the average is 1mm per month, but this differs from person to person.

It can also depend on how much movement is required to straighten your teeth, and whether or not you have any underlying issues with your jaw or bite that need to be corrected first.

However, as a rough guide, you’ll find that:

  • Traditional metal braces can take, on average, around two years (24 months) to achieve their full effect. 
  • The treatment time with lingual braces, meanwhile, is typically up to 30% faster compared with traditional fixed systems.
  • And a very minor case of crowding can take as little as six months to fix with Invisalign. Of course, more severe instances of crooked or crowded teeth will take longer.

At the end of the day, everyone is different. Our mouths are unique, and one person’s teeth might move more easily than another’s. There’s no telling how quick a course of treatment will be until it’s started. 

Your orthodontist can provide you with an estimated timeline during your consultation, but this will often be revised as treatment gets underway.

Pro Tip: If you have a big event in your calendar (like a wedding, for example), flag this to your orthodontist. They can help you plan your treatment so that you have some noticeable and fast improvements for the big day, before carrying on with the rest of the treatment after. 

Which is the best option for you?

This entirely depends on you and your situation. Whichever one you choose, the end result will be the same: straighter teeth.

However, your choice (and your orthodontist’s recommendation) can be influenced by a number of factors, including:

  • Your oral health
  • Your age
  • Your lifestyle — for example, do you play contact sports or a musical instrument?
  • Your expectations — will you feel self-conscious about wearing metal braces? 

Invisalign is a popular option as it’s unique to your mouth, discreet, and comfortable. It’s also incredibly effective and, with expert consultation and the correct prescription from a specialist orthodontist, you could achieve straighter teeth quicker than with traditional methods.

We’ve written about the five most popular benefits of Invisalign to help you decide if it’s right for you.

What happens after your initial treatment is completed?

Once you’ve finished your treatment and had your dental braces removed, you’ll need to wear a retainer and visit your orthodontist regularly to check the alignment of your teeth. 

These appointments can last for up to two years after removal. This is to safeguard your newly straightened smile from relapsing. 

Interested in straighter teeth? 

If you’d like to learn more about how braces can help you get the smile you deserve, speak with one of our specialist orthodontists. We’ll talk you through the best treatment options for you and your circumstances, and set you on the path to straighter teeth.

Contact us to arrange a consultation.

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