You can get braces at any age and it’s more common now to see adults with braces than it was a few decades ago. But how long do adults need to wear braces for and are treatment times different compared to children?
Just like teenagers, adults want to know how long their treatment will take. The answer is: “It varies”. Every case is unique and treatment could take from several months to three years.
There are four main factors that impact on the orthodontic treatment time for patients – age, complexity of their case, compliance and the type of braces used. The complexity and number of orthodontic problems being treated are the main things affecting treatment time, not the patient’s age. Age only plays a minor role.
Does a Patient’s Age Matter?
As many people suspect, adult orthodontic treatment can take slightly longer for adults than teenagers and children. Faster results are possible when we treat children because their jaws are still growing and teeth are still moving so they are easier to shift into the desired place. Adult teeth have been in place longer and take more effort to move into position.
Complex Cases Take Longer
No two cases are the same but some treatments are easier than others. The minimum time to wear braces can be as short as a few months to fix a basic problem like a crooked tooth or spacing issue. Some adults however have complex cases with many problems to treat. Adults are often surprised to hear that braces can not only fix their crooked teeth but can also correct other linked dental problems such as bone and gum loss, abnormal wear of tooth enamel, headaches, jaw pain and tooth decay. Complex cases can take as long as 36 months for all teeth to be in the desired position.
The Type of Braces Affects Treatment Time
The length of treatment with braces can depend on the orthodontic treatment being used. Braces can be metal, ceramic or lingual.
Metal and Clear Braces
High-grade stainless steel and clear ceramic braces are the most powerful orthodontic treatment method available. They are more efficient in their tooth movements than lingual braces and clear aligners thus a quicker movement into the desired position. These braces are also more likely to give the best result in the shortest time possible. The minimum time to wear braces can be as little as several months to fix a basic crooked tooth or spacing issue through to 36 months for both metal braces and ceramic braces. Ceramic braces use tooth-coloured brackets and arch wires so they are less conspicuous than metal braces. The ceramic brackets can’t tolerate quite the same amount of pressure as traditional metal ones.
Lingual braces (worn on the inside of teeth) are a popular option for adults as they are virtually undetectable to other people. It is common for lingual braces to take longer to treat. The Orthodontist scans a patient’s teeth so individual brackets can be custom made in a dental laboratory to fit each tooth. The braces are fitted to the backs of teeth and the wire fitted. When braces are on the outside of teeth, the wire can move teeth up and down, in and out more efficiently than lingual braces with the wire on the inside. Patients who choose lingual braces attend more appointments for longer periods to check on progress and make adjustments.
Considering Orthodontic Treatment as an Adult?
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While it’s not often a problem with adult patients, failure to comply with the Orthodontist’s instructions can increase treatment time. If you follow the directions of your Orthodontist, your treatment will progress smoothly on schedule. The most important things to remember about compliance are:
- Be thorough and consistent with teeth cleaning
- Stick to your appointments with your Orthodontist and follow their directions
- Don’t delay making an appointment to repair breakages as this could allow teeth to go back to their original positions
Remember orthodontic care doesn’t finish once braces are removed. Whether braces have been on for several months or three years, teeth can still move back to their original position without the aid of a retainer. Your Orthodontist will advise how often the clear plastic retainer must be worn or a permanent wire attached to the back of the bottom teeth.
If you are considering braces and would like to know how long you can expect treatment to last, make a no-obligation appointment at The Orthodontists by calling (08) 9364 8020 or book an appointment online.