Any time we do a consultation for treatment with braces, one of the most common questions we receive is, "How long will I have to wear braces?" Of course, this is no surprise - we would want to know the same thing!
The answer is complicated! Your treatment time depends on several things, most importantly, the complexity of your case. If you have a more severe bite problem than your best friend, odds are that you will wear braces for a longer time frame. In addition, everyone's teeth move at different speeds. As with all biological processes, our bodies differ from one another's. Your teeth will move at a pace dictated by your biology and the amount of force applied.
While you don't have the ability to control these factors, the good news is that there are lots of variables that you can control about the speed of your braces! Whenever I explain the duration of braces to patients, I tell them that there are three major things they can do to influence the speed of their treatment. Here are my recommendations for speedy treatment!
- Show up to your scheduled appointments! When you skip or reschedule appointments, we don't get a chance to do necessary adjustments. We choose your appointment intervals carefully, and without coming at the necessary time, your braces may reach a plateau during which they aren't continuing to help you make forward progress. Even worse, if you continue to wear elastics or other appliances without supervision, your treatment could actually take a step backward, adding time to your treatment!
- Be careful to avoid broken braces and appliances. Any time a brace or other appliance (springs, etc.) come loose, that means the brace or spring isn't doing it's job. When the appliances aren't doing their job, then your teeth may not be moving the way they're supposed to, or even worse, they could be relapsing back towards where they started, adding time to your treatment. The best way to avoid breaking appliances is to eat carefully and choose foods that aren't too hard or chewy. If something does come loose or break, it's a good idea to call the office and find out whether it needs to be replaced right away or if it can wait until your next visit.
- Always follow at-home directions carefully. What do we mean by this? It means wear those rubber bands!! When the doctor asks you to wear rubber bands (elastics), be sure to follow the directions to the letter. They only work properly if they are attached to the correct teeth and worn for the proper number of hours each day. If you forget exactly how your rubber bands are supposed to attach, give us a call, and we can guide you. Don't fall into the trap of just hooking them up the same way your friends do - everyone is asked to wear them in different patterns depending on your teeth! And most importantly, if you are asked to wear your rubber bands full time, be sure you're getting about 22 hours each day. Less than full-time wear means your teeth won't be making any progress!
So there you have it! All the tools you need to speed through treatment with braces!! Good luck :)