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They’re probably the most common questions: How long do braces take to work? How long do you need braces? People aren’t always blessed with a lot of patience, but the fact is, braces treatment takes a different amount of time. How much time? That all depends on how much your dental braces have to do. 

Smiles by the Bay provides self-ligating and custom-designed braces aimed and reducing your treatment times from those of traditional metal braces. The length of treatment depends on how many dental problems you (such as jaw alignment, spacing, and crowding) have and how severe they are. That’s why we encourage you to seek out braces treatment as soon as possible before your dental issues worsen. 

How Do Braces Work?

It may be easier to understand why braces take as long as they do if you understand how braces work first. There is much more to orthodontic treatment than just adding wires and brackets to your teeth. It’s a detailed, well-plotted process. 

We map out the journey of each tooth. Why? Because moving a tooth too fast or too soon can damage it or those around it. It can even weaken your jawbone. That’s why we encourage anyone who needs braces treatment to visit a trained and certified orthodontist. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends seeing an orthodontist at age 7. Early treatment can cut down on treatment time.

How do braces work? The brackets, bands, and wires apply gentle pressure to your teeth, which causes the bone around their roots to break down. The teeth shift, and the bone rebuilds itself behind them. This allows the teeth to move while keeping a tight grip on them so they don’t fall out. If the teeth were moved too fast, the bone wouldn’t have time to rebuild, and your teeth might fall out! That’s why we tell our patients to have patience regarding braces treatment. (Here are more details on how braces work!)

How Long Do You Have to Wear Braces?

How long do braces stay on? That depends on several factors. The average treatment time for traditional metal braces is 12-24 months. Someone with a mild overbite and only a couple of crooked teeth may only need 12 months. Someone with a severe overbite, a crossbite, several crooked teeth, and impacted teeth may need every day of that 24 months. 

The good news is Smiles by the Bay uses braces made to shorten treatment times. Our clear braces are self-ligating braces. That means instead of an archwire attached to each bracket by elastics that have to be changed out every six weeks, our braces have brackets with tiny “doors” that hold the archwire in place and allow it to slide easier. This makes the braces more comfortable for the patient, and the unrestricted movement of the archwire allows the braces to work faster in aligning your teeth.

We also offer LightForce Braces, which use 3D, custom-printed brackets to fit your teeth perfectly. This means your brackets apply pressure at the best place on your tooth for optimum movement. It reduces the time you have to stay in your braces. LightForce braces can work in as little as six months! 

5 Tips for Getting Your Braces Off on Time

Certain things can delay your braces treatment, from not wearing rubber bands properly to breaking brackets or wires. What’s the best way to keep your braces treatment on track? Here are some suggestions.

  • Brush and floss regularly. Cavities and tooth decay can slow your treatment. We may have to remove part of your braces to fill a cavity or treat tooth decay or gum disease. The longer you go without all your braces, the more delayed your treatment may be. Make sure you brush and floss every day, preferably after every meal. 
  • Brush and floss well. It’s not just about brushing and flossing. It’s about brushing and flossing correctly. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to brush your teeth. Electric brushes work better because their motion removes food particles and plaque around your brackets that manual brushing may not reach. Use a floss threader to get over and under archwires and floss your teeth properly. 
  • Wear your rubber bands. We cannot emphasize the importance of wearing your rubber bands as prescribed. Rubber bands move your teeth just as braces do. They often fix a crossbite or properly line up your teeth. Not wearing them for the length of time recommended daily could delay your treatment.
  • Avoid foods on the “no-no” list. Avoid hard, crunchy, sticky, or chewy foods that damage your braces. These foods could pull a wire or break off a bracket. It may take time to get your braces repaired, which could slow down your treatment time. Here’s a list of some foods to avoid. 
  • Report any loose brackets or broken wires immediately. If you break a wire or notice a loose or broken bracket, contact Smiles by the Bay immediately. We’ll set an appointment to fix your braces. The sooner we can fix that, the better we can avoid delays.

This has been a bit of a whirlwind of information, and we hope it has been helpful to you as you evaluate your options for orthodontic treatment. We’ve barely scratched the surface of what you may be looking for in terms of answers and if that’s the case, we invite you to head over to our Invisalign treatment page to find more answers to some questions you might have. We also realize that a webpage may not have all the answers, so give us a call if you can’t find the answer to your question. We want to help you make the best treatment decision for you and your family. We’re here to help.

You might be wondering what could be your next step. The easiest thing to do is to start a complimentary Virtual Consult. Using your phone, you’ll snap some quick pictures of your mouth which, through the Virtual Consult tool, you’ll be able to upload your pictures directly to us. Our doctor will look at the pictures and decide whether to ask you to come in for a first visit. Virtual Consult is a great way to get people to check out their options without having to make a trip into the office.

Smiles by the Bay

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Happy patients are the best patients! We want to see you smile at every visit!

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