If you’re considering braces, you may have a lot of questions — and that’s absolutely normal. And one of the most common questions we get is “Why do braces take so long?” That’s a valid concern — after all, braces can take anywhere from one to three years, with the average time around 22 months.

The time needed will depend on the problem each patient has. For example, a simple case could take as little as a few months to treat, but a complete bite correction could take a few years. And that’s true whether you choose regular braces or Invisalign: Moving your teeth into the correct position takes time. So, to put your mind at ease, let’s discuss why it takes so long, and exactly what’s happening in your mouth when you have braces. 
To begin, you may not realize that repositioning your teeth will involve some bone remodeling. Your teeth connect to your jawbone, and when they move position, the bone must reshape to fit their new position. Now, “bone remodeling” may sound odd, but it’s not. It’s a natural, lifelong process where mature bone tissue is removed and new tissue replaces it. Braces simply cause the process to happen a bit differently.
Moving teeth is the same process whether you’re wearing traditional braces or Invisalign, however, the methods are different.

Moving Teeth with Traditional Braces

Traditional metal braces or ceramic (clear) braces are “fixed,” which means we cement the brackets to your teeth. We then attach wires to the brackets, and these create a gentle pressure that moves your teeth slowly. Then, new bone tissue forms around the teeth once they’re in their new, permanent position. 
The braces require regular adjustments in order to work. At each appointment for an adjustment, the doctor will adjust the wires a bit at a time. A regular schedule of adjustments keeps constant pressure on the teeth so that they continue to move.
Additionally, it takes time for the new bone tissue to form and hold the teeth in place. Without the new tissue forming, your teeth could actually loosen and fall out! That’s why it’s vital to keep to a regular adjustment schedule.

Using Invisalign to Move Teeth

Unlike traditional braces, Invisalign isn’t a “fixed” braces system. Instead of brackets and wires, Invisalign uses a series of clear plastic trays that mold to your teeth. So, how do they make the teeth move without traditional aligners? We place small, tooth-colored “bumps” of dental bonding material on certain teeth and specific locations. These provide a grip for your Invisalign aligners to stay in their fixed position.
Another way Invisalign is different from traditional braces is that you don’t have to come into the office to get your wires adjusted. Instead, we give you a series of clear aligners at the beginning of your treatment, and your doctor will let you know when you need to change them out. Your first set of aligners will begin to shift your teeth a little, then your second aligner will continue to move the teeth, and so on.
Also, unlike traditional braces, you can remove your Invisalign trays for eating and drinking, and when you’re cleaning your teeth. However, it’s important to wear them for 22 hours per day to ensure your teeth move according to plan. And as for how long braces take, it’s interesting to note that a study by the National Institutes of Health concluded that Invisalign moves teeth faster than traditional braces.

It Takes as Long as it Takes to Give You a Beautiful, Healthy Smile

As we have mentioned, it takes anywhere from one to three years to complete treatment with braces. And it’s vital to continue until your treatment is complete since it takes about a year for your bone to solidify around the teeth. And while some people will notice their teeth moving much faster than others, you still need to continue to wear your braces or Invisalign trays even after the teeth are in their new position. The bone needs time to solidify, and if braces or aligners are removed too soon, your teeth could move back into their prior position.

Then there’s the question of retainers: After we remove your braces or when you no longer need to use aligners, you will still need to wear a retainer. This will keep your teeth in the proper position, and the doctor will let you know exactly how long you’ll need to wear your retainer to ensure permanent results.

So, when it comes to how long braces take, well, the answer is “as long as your teeth need.” And remember, it will be worth all that time when you see your new, gorgeous smile!

We Are Here for You!

At Love Orthodontics, we are committed to excellence. We focus on creating your beautiful, healthy, functional smile for a lifetime. And we do it with a strong emphasis on your comfort, safety, and satisfaction. Give us a call for a free consultation to see how we can help you!