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How Long Do I Really Have to Wear Braces?

how long should a patient wear braces

Orthodontics is complex – it involves altering and rearranging living cells and tissues. Because of that, it must be done gently and with great care. We have to apply just the right amount of pressure to align the teeth correctly – too little pressure and the teeth won’t move, but too much pressure and irreversible damage can occur.

Because we are all created differently, our teeth move differently. That makes it hard to predict exactly how long orthodontic treatment will take. Therefore, we provide an estimated timeframe rather than an exact date. This provides a more realistic idea of treatment length.

As a general rule, the amount of time you will spend in orthodontic treatment will depend on the complexity of the underlying problem we are treating. Teeth that are more crowded, or cases where extractions are necessary, will take longer than simpler cases. Aligning the jaw properly will also require more work and will take longer than cases where the alignment is ideal.

Age is also a contributing factor in the length of treatment. While orthodontic treatment can be performed at any age, the older you get, the slower the teeth move. Therefore, we recommend treatment begin as early as possible. Age 7 is the ideal time for the first orthodontic evaluation.

There are also other factors that affect the length of orthodontic treatment, and these are out of the hands of the orthodontist. Patient compliance is a huge factor in treatment time. Poor oral hygiene, broken or damaged braces, missed appointments, not following your orthodontist’s protocols with elastics, headgear or Invisalign aligner wear are all factors that can lengthen treatment time. We each have to do our part to ensure treatment stays on track and is completed in a timely manner.

So, how long does orthodontic treatment take? It can range from just a few months, to more than three years. On average, the typical course of braces in a healthy teenager with proper oral hygiene and excellent compliance will take between 18 and 24 months. Adults will be slightly longer than that, depending on the severity of their case.

No matter how long one’s orthodontic may take, one thing is sure: The end result is definitely worth the wait!

Dr. Reza Salmassian is a Board Certified Orthodontist. For any questions regarding this article or to schedule your complimentary orthodontic evaluation, please contact Dr. Salmassian’s office at 661-222-7444 or visit us at

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