How long do braces take?
That’s a question with no easy answer. Every mouth is different, and depending on your particular malocclusions, the appliances you choose, and how well you adhere to your orthodontist’s recommendations, your treatment time might be shorter or longer.
When you sit down with your orthodontist for an initial consult, he or she will give you an estimate on treatment time.
However, if you make these 3 mistakes, your treatment could take weeks or months longer.
Mistake 1: Missing Your Appointments
Whether you’re using brackets or aligners, your regular appointments are scheduled at specific milestones to move your treatment forward.
Brackets need tightening at the right intervals to move your teeth gradually, but steadily, to the right positions. Aligners need to be switched out at appropriate times for the same reason.
If you regularly miss and reschedule your appointments during treatment, you’re extending your treatment time a little bit with every delay. Those delays add up – imagine adding an extra week to your overall treatment time each month!
Stick to your appointment schedule. Your orthodontist is trying to get you the smile you want as quickly as possible.
Mistake 2: Asking for Looser Brackets to Avoid Pain
Straightening your teeth can feel uncomfortable, especially just after your brackets are tightened.
Some teens and adults think their brackets are too tight, so they ask their doctor to loosen them a little in an attempt to reduce discomfort.
If you’re truly in pain, tell your orthodontist!
However, keep in mind that your treatment has been carefully calculated to straighten your smile in the shortest possible time without causing damage. Asking for looser brackets won’t eliminate discomfort, and you’ll have your braces for much longer and therefore need to endure more.
You’re likely to find your braces more comfortable if you follow your doctor’s recommendations closely. Eat soft foods, keep your wires or aligners clean, and allow callouses to form to reduce pain from rubbing metal.
Over the counter pain relievers are also great for minimizing discomfort after an adjustment.
Mistake 3: Not Wearing Your Aligners
For braces, this isn’t an issue. For clear aligners like Invisalign, though, taking out your aligners and not wearing them as directed can significantly extend your treatment time.
One of the advantages of Invisalign is that it can be removed for brushing and flossing, eating, or even photographs. For some people, that becomes a disadvantage when those aligners don’t get used properly.
Aligners are also lost sometimes, especially when taken out for meals. Often, an aligner gets wrapped in a napkin (instead of put away in its case) and is accidentally thrown away. That’s why orthodontists recommend being thoughtful about your aligners whenever they’re not in your mouth.
It can be tempting to wear your Invisalign less often than you should, but if you don’t wear your trays, they won’t move your teeth. If they don’t move your teeth, you can’t put in the next tray. If you can’t put in the next tray, your treatment takes longer.
Work With Your Orthodontist
Getting the smile you want depends on you, not just your orthodontist.
The best orthodontist in the world couldn’t give you a perfect smile without your cooperation. After all, your orthodontist only takes care of your mouth every 4-6 weeks. You take care of your mouth every day.
When your doctor gives you instructions, follow them! It’s okay to ask questions if you don’t understand why you’re being asked to follow certain routines or avoid particular things, but don’t just ignore those recommendations. All of those home care things are just as important as your appointments.