Did you or your child just get braces or Invisalign? If you’re like the rest of the patients at our Tulsa and Claremore orthodontist office, the first thing you’re probably wondering is how long your treatment will take. While there’s no simple, one-size-fits-all answer, there are a number of things that can affect the length of your orthodontic treatment.
At The Brace Place, we know adjusting to life with braces can take time — but don’t wish it away. Instead, look at your treatment time as a journey towards the smile of your dreams. That said, there are certain things you can do to keep your orthodontic treatment on track. While it won’t necessarily mean you’ll get your braces off faster, it will at least minimize delays.
The length of your orthodontic treatment comes down to a few factors. Some depend on you — like how well you care for your teeth and whether you listen to your doctor’s advice or not. Others, like how complicated your case is, are out of your control. To get a better idea of how long your braces or Invisalign treatment will take, here’s a list of common factors that contribute to treatment time.
1. Your Oral Hygiene Practices
As you already know, the health of your teeth depends on how well you take care of them. Same goes for braces or Invisalign. The more diligent you are about brushing and flossing, the fewer delays you’ll have throughout your orthodontic treatment. So in many ways, practicing good oral hygiene will actually help you get your braces off faster!
If you have braces, you should brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day, but ideally after every meal so you don’t have pesky food particles hiding behind your brackets and wires all day. The same rules apply if you have Invisalign. Brushing your teeth after you eat will help keep your aligners (and teeth!) stain-free.
2. How Well You Adhere to Your Doctor’s Instructions
Believe it or not, there’s a method to your orthodontist’s madness. When Dr. Patel tells you not to eat crunchy foods or play sports without a mouthguard, it’s not because he doesn’t want you to have any fun — it’s because he wants your braces treatment to go as smoothly as possible. Listening to your doctor and following his or her instructions will mean less time in the orthodontist chair and more time enjoying your life. So do what your orthodontist says and your treatment will be over before you know it.
3. Avoiding Damage to Your Braces
Speaking of crunchy foods and mouthguards, any damage to your braces can cause setbacks in your orthodontic treatment. For people with braces, that means avoiding crunchy, sticky or chewy foods, and any foods you have to bite into (like apples or raw carrots), and wearing a mouthguard for any contact sports. For those with Invisalign, this means taking care of your aligners and only washing them in lukewarm water, since hot water can warp the plastic.
4. Losing Your Invisalign Aligners
Invisalign wearers, this one’s for you. We get it: things happen and at some point during your Invisalign treatment, you might end up misplacing your aligners. Our first word of advice is not to panic. Just call your orthodontist and he’ll be able to suggest the best course of action. This may mean going back to your previous set of aligners or skipping ahead to your next set, depending on your unique situation. Disrupting your Invisalign plan can definitely slow down your progress, though, so be careful and always put your aligners safely in their case when you’re not wearing them!
5. Your Current Smile
This is easily the biggest contributing factor to how long your braces or Invisalign treatment will take. Your treatment plan is based on your original smile and is 100% tailored to your specific needs. Some people are working to correct an over- or underbite, while others are treating issues like crooked or crowded teeth. Determining the length of your treatment comes down to how far your teeth need to move to reach their optimal position. Severely misaligned bites typically take longer to correct than minor issues, like a few crooked teeth. It all depends on your current smile — basically, the less complicated your condition, the shorter your treatment will be.
We know you’re excited to see your new smile without your braces or Invisalign in the way. To keep your treatment moving forward without delay, make sure to practice proper oral hygiene, listen to your orthodontist’s instructions and, most importantly, be patient. That way, when the day comes to remove your braces or put away your aligners for good, you’ll be able to think back on your treatment experience with a smile.