This may be the most common question I am asked as an orthodontist. In the digital world that we live in, we have all become accustomed to having things the minute or even the second we want them. While the average length of orthodontic treatment has been significantly reduced as a result of developments in technology over the years, orthodontic treatment is still measured in months and sometimes years, not in days or weeks.
Asking how long braces will be on for is like asking how long it will take to drive to San Diego. Are you leaving from Philadelphia or from Phoenix? How long it takes to arrive at your destination depends a lot on where you are leaving from. The same is true for orthodontic treatment with braces or Invisalign. The severity of the bite problems that are in place at the beginning of treatment will significantly affect how long it takes to get to the end of treatment. Treatment can be as short as a few weeks or as long as a few years depending on the severity of the bite problem to begin with. We can drive a faster car to shave down the time we spend in the car, but no matter how fast the car is you still have to obey the speed limit and it is still going to take a while. The average length of orthodontic treatment according to the Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics is around two years.
The “bottleneck” in orthodontic treatment is the rate at which the bone around the roots of the teeth remodels. Stimulating bone to remodel is how we move teeth with braces and Invisalign. While there are techniques to speed up this process, bone remodeling is still a relatively slow process. This is the same reason you have to have a cast on a broken arm for several weeks to allow the bone to set in the proper position. So hang in there and know that your braces will come off as soon as your smile is perfect. Good things come to those who wait! If you have questions about how long braces might take in your individual case, please contact our office at Budd Orthodontics for a free consultation.