How long do braces stay in mouth?

The length of time braces need to stay on the teeth depends on several factors. Generally, braces are worn for 1 to 3 years. The severity of the bite problem and how well the patient follows orthodontic instructions can affect the overall treatment time.

How Long Do Braces Take to Straighten Teeth?

On average, braces take around 18-24 months (1.5 to 2 years) to adequately straighten and align the teeth. However, treatment times vary on a case by case basis.

Here are some factors that influence braces treatment duration:

  • Severity of the problem – People with minor alignment issues usually require braces for a shorter time than those with complex bite problems.
  • Type of braces – Newer braces like ceramic tend to work faster than traditional metal braces.
  • Compliance with orthodontist’s instructions – Patients who properly care for their braces and elastic bands can complete treatment sooner.
  • Oral habits – Thumb-sucking and tongue thrusting can prolong treatment time.
  • Overall dental health – Problems like gum disease lengthen total treatment time.
  • Mid-course corrections – Unexpected issues like jaw growth changes may require re-evaluation and new approaches.
  • Presence of wisdom teeth – Impacted wisdom teeth can affect progress and alignement.

As a general timeline, here are the phases of standard braces treatment:

Phase 1: Initial Alignment Stage

This is the first phase where braces start straightening the teeth, which takes 6 to 12 months on average. During this period, the orthodontist:

  • Places braces on the teeth
  • Makes periodic adjustments
  • Replaces elastics
  • Changes archwires

At each visit, the wires get tightened so the teeth can move into better alignment. People may need to wear elastics both during the day and at night to help shift certain teeth into position.

Phase 2: Correction Stage

After the teeth begin moving into alignment, more targeted correction takes place over 6 to 18 months. This involves:

  • Closing gaps between teeth
  • Reshaping teeth
  • Improving the bite
  • Realigning any teeth that have shifted

If extractions took place before braces, space closure occurs during this stage. Precision bends in the wire help guide teeth into their ideal final positions.

Phase 3: Finishing & Retention Stage

The final step in braces treatment involves settling the teeth in their corrected positions. It takes 6 to 12 months.

Key steps include:

  • Settling any minor irregularities in tooth alignment
  • Detailing the occlusion (bite)
  • Removing any gaps
  • Ensuring stability

Once the braces come off, retainers are worn to hold teeth in their new positions.

Based on these general phases, the total braces treatment timeline ranges between 1 to 3 years. However, no two patients are alike. Treatment length depends on each person’s unique orthodontic needs.

Factors That Affect Braces Time

Multiple factors can influence how long braces need to stay on the teeth:

1. Severity of the Orthodontic Problem

People with minor tooth alignment issues typically require shorter braces treatment than those with complex structural problems.

For example, simple crowding and small spacing can be resolved relatively quickly. In contrast, severe overbites, underbites and crossbites often necessitate longer treatment plans spanning 2-3 years.

Here are orthodontic issues that may prolong braces time:

  • Major crowding or spacing
  • Crossbites
  • Overbites and underbites
  • Impacted teeth
  • Jaw alignment problems like overjets and retrognathia
  • Cleft palate and other craniofacial syndromes

2. Overall Dental Health

Dental problems like gum disease, tooth decay and missing teeth can lengthen total treatment time.

For instance, a patient may need periodontal therapy before braces to stabilize gum inflammation. Restorative care is often required to fix cavities and broken fillings that interfere with brace placement.

Pre-existing dental issues should be fully addressed before undergoing ortho treatment. This helps minimize delays and complications.

3. Type of Braces

Newer types of braces tend to work faster than traditional metal braces.

Examples of faster orthodontic systems include:

  • Ceramic braces
  • Lingual braces
  • Invisalign clear aligners
  • SmartClip self-ligating braces
  • Damon braces

These newer options apply light, continuous force to teeth, enabling faster movement with less discomfort.

Here is a comparison of approximate treatment lengths:

Type of Braces Treatment Time
Metal braces 18 to 24 months
Ceramic braces 12 to 18 months
Lingual braces 18 to 24 months
Invisalign 12 to 18 months
SmartClip self-ligating 12 to 18 months
Damon braces 18 to 24 months

As shown, ceramic braces and Invisalign can straighten teeth faster by 6 to 12 months compared to basic metal braces.

4. Oral Habits

Poor oral habits can interfere with braces progress, lengthening overall treatment time.

Habits to avoid include:

  • Thumb-sucking
  • Tongue thrusting
  • Cheek biting
  • Lip sucking
  • Nail biting
  • Chewing on pens/pencils

The orthodontist will provide recommendations on how to stop any problematic habits affecting brace function. Using reminders and behavior modification techniques can help.

For kids, an appliance called a tongue crib may be recommended to prevent tongue thrusting. This retrains the tongue posture.

5. Patient Compliance

Following the orthodontist’s instructions is key to finishing treatment in the estimated time frame.

Being compliant involves:

  • Keeping all orthodontic appointments
  • Wearing elastics as directed
  • Avoiding broken appliances
  • Maintaining good oral hygiene
  • Restricting certain hard and sticky foods

Missed appointments and disregarding treatment guidelines leads to slower progress. Sticking closely to the recommended braces care routine enables teeth to move more quickly into proper alignment.

6. Mid-Treatment Changes

Sometimes during braces therapy, unexpected issues arise requiring the orthodontist to reassess and modify the approach.

For example, jaw growth during puberty may alter alignment and require braces for longer than originally estimated.

Other problems like unstable bite relationships, tooth impactions, or poor bracket placement could also warrant adjustments to the treatment plan and timeline.

7. Wisdom Teeth Extraction

Wisdom teeth often emerge and grow in during teenage years. Impacted wisdom teeth can disrupt orthodontic progress.

To prevent complications, the orthodontist may recommend wisdom tooth extraction before or during braces treatment. This requires additional healing time.

If wisdom teeth are removed later on, teeth may shift out of place. Braces may need to stay on longer to fix any new alignment issues.

Considerations for Adult Braces Time

Adults usually wear braces for the same duration as teens, which is 12 to 24 months on average. However, some factors related to age can influence treatment length:

  • Adult bones – Mature adult bone is less responsive to orthodontic pressure, potentially slowing tooth movement.
  • Gum health – Long-standing periodontal issues may need to be addressed first.
  • Tooth abrasion – Worn and abraded teeth can make bite adjustments tricky.
  • Restorative work – Adults often need dental restorations to optimize emergence and contact between teeth.
  • Complex cases – Adults are more likely to have complex, long-standing orthodontic issues.

When these factors come into play, adults may need to wear braces for towards the longer end of the typical 12 to 24-month range. The orthodontist takes all aspects of the case into account when estimating treatment time.

Tips to Shorten Braces Time

While genetics and the severity of a malocclusion largely determine braces length, there are some things patients can do to maximize efficiency:

  • Maintain excellent oral hygiene – Brush carefully after each meal and floss daily to avoid plaque buildup and gum disease. Follow the orthodontist’s home care recommendations.
  • Use orthodontic wax – Apply wax to stabilize irritating braces parts and keep them from poking the cheeks. This prevents breakage.
  • Avoid hard and sticky foods – Stick to a braces-friendly diet without very crunchy, chewy or sticky foods that can damage braces.
  • Wear elastics as directed – Consistently wearing elastics applies optimal force for quicker tooth movement.
  • Take ibuprofen as needed – Ask your orthodontist if you can take an anti-inflammatory medication to ease orthodontic pain.
  • Attend all adjustments – Keep each appointment for wire tightening and progress checks.
  • Stop harmful habits – Cease any habits negatively affecting braces like thumb-sucking.
  • Use vibrational dental devices – Small battery-powered plates placed against the cheek can gently accelerate orthodontic movement.

Following the orthodontist’s instructions closely is the number one way to keep treatment on track and ensure the shortest possible braces time.

Options to Reduce Braces Treatment Time

People eager to minimize braces duration can ask their orthodontist about these time-saving options:

Ceramic Braces

With clear or tooth-colored brackets, ceramic braces tend to move teeth around 6 months faster than metal braces.

Ceramic also offers an esthetic advantage. However, these braces are prone to more breakage.


Invisalign uses a series of clear plastic aligners to gradually move teeth into position. Each aligner is worn for 1-2 weeks before switching to the next.

With no brackets or wires, treatment typically ranges between 12 and 18 months. Invisalign works well for minor to moderate alignment problems. Teens and adults like the removable, discreet design.

Accelerated Osteogenic Orthodontics

This technique helps the jaw bone respond faster to orthodontic forces. It involves making small perforations in the bone to increase blood flow and shorten treatment by 4 to 6 months.

The perforations are made surgically or with a specialized dental device during the initial braces appointment. After a short recovery, the faster bone response reduces overall treatment time.

Surgical Orthodontics

For complex bite misalignments like severe underbites, jaw surgery combined with braces may improve results and shorten time in braces.

The surgery repositions the jaw bones in proper alignment so the final phase of orthodontics goes quicker. Braces time can be reduced by 6 to 12 months with this approach.

Acceledent Device

This small orthodontic device is worn against the teeth for 20 minutes daily. It applies high frequency vibrations to the jaw area, stimulating cellular activity. This may help teeth migrate more rapidly with braces.

Studies show Acceledent may shorten braces treatment by up to 50%. Consult your orthodontist to see if this device could work for your situation.

Propel Orthodontics

Propel accelerated braces technology uses small temporary anchors placed in the jawbone. The anchors apply pulsating forces to the sites of tooth movement.

This stimulates bone remodeling and allows teeth to shift more rapidly into corrected alignment. Braces time may be reduced by 30% to 50% using Propel technology.

Braces Retainers: How Long They Are Worn After Braces

Once braces straighten the teeth, it’s crucial to wear retainers full-time to hold teeth in position. Without retainers, teeth are prone to shifting.

Here are general retainer guidelines:

  • First 6 months – Retainers should be worn all day and night,除了吃饭刷牙
  • Following 6 months – Wear retainers nightly all night while sleeping
  • 1-3 years – Continue wearing retainers at night. Many orthodontists recommend lifetime nighttime wear to maintain results.

The two main types of retainers are:

  • Hawley retainers – Clear plastic with a wire that sits against the front 6 teeth. Less discreet but can be adjusted.
  • Clear plastic retainers – Made of transparent plastic that sits over the entire arch of upper and/or lower teeth. More esthetic but can’t be adjusted.

Regular retainer wear is vital for maintaining straightened teeth over the long term. Missing days of wear or going extended periods without retainers risks teeth shifting and undoing brace results.


While every patient’s braces timeline is unique, the average treatment length ranges between 12 and 24 months. Exact duration depends on the severity of alignment issues and patient compliance.

Talk to your orthodontist to get a personalized estimate based on your specific case. With good oral hygiene and closely following instructions, you’ll stay on track for the shortest braces treatment time possible. Consistently wearing retainers after braces ensures your beautiful new smile stays stable for years to come.

Leave a Comment