Why Do Braces Take So Long?

Why Do Braces Take So Long
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Wearing braces is a detailed and systematic process that orthodontists use to correct various dental misalignments. The treatment involves several stages, with the duration of treatment varying based on several factors. 

This article will discuss each stage of the braces treatment, from initial alignment to final adjustments. We will answer the question “Why do braces take so long?” and explore factors like the type of braces used, the patient’s age, the severity of the dental misalignment, and patient compliance, all of which can influence how long the treatment lasts. By understanding these stages and factors, patients can set realistic expectations for their orthodontic treatment.

How Do Braces Work – Stages of Bracing

Wearing braces involves a series of steps that orthodontists follow to address various dental issues. Each stage of bracing serves a particular purpose in the overall treatment. By understanding these stages, patients can gain clarity about the timeline and expectations of their treatment. Let’s look at the main parts of the braces treatment process.

Initial Alignment

In the initial alignment stage, braces apply gentle pressure on the teeth to align crooked or crowded teeth. This stage typically involves correcting the most noticeable misalignments, providing a more uniform appearance. Orthodontists progressively adjust the braces, using methods such as archwires and elastic bands, to guide the teeth into their desired positions.

Correcting Bite

The second stage focuses on correcting bite issues, including overbites, underbites, and crossbites. Braces achieve this by influencing the jaw’s growth and development through anchored appliances, such as headgear or elastics, which exert pressure on the jaw. It is a crucial step in improving overall oral function and preventing future dental issues.

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Types of Malocclusion

Space Closure

During the space closure stage, braces work to close any gaps between the teeth. Orthodontists use appropriately sized archwires and power chains, which connect brackets and apply consistent force, to gently guide teeth and eliminate excess space.

Detailed Finishing

The final stage, detailed finishing, involves refining tooth positions to ensure optimal alignment. Precision adjustments, including torque and rotations, are made to achieve precise tooth placement for a harmonious relationship between the upper and lower teeth. 

Factors Determining Treatment Length

Orthodontic treatment with braces is a comprehensive process that depends on various factors to determine its length. While everyone hopes for a quick and efficient treatment, the reality can be different based on individual circumstances. The alignment of one’s teeth, their age, the specific type of braces chosen, and even how closely they follow their orthodontist’s advice can influence how long they’ll need to wear braces. Let’s take a look at these factors to better understand the nuances that dictate the duration of orthodontic treatment.

Severity of the Misalignment

The complexity of one’s teeth alignment issues plays an important role in determining the duration of brace treatment. The more crooked or misaligned the teeth are, the longer the treatment might take. If teeth are only slightly out of place, they require less time to be moved into the correct position, resulting in a shorter duration for wearing braces. On the other hand, severe cases, such as extreme overcrowding, large gaps, or significant overbites and underbites, necessitate a more extended period of treatment. This is because the teeth and jaw need more substantial adjustments to achieve the desired alignment.

Patient Age

A person’s age also impacts the duration of orthodontic treatment. Generally, younger patients, typically in their early teens or younger, have softer jawbones. This allows for a faster and easier movement of teeth, often leading to shorter treatment times. On the other hand, adults have more mature bones, which can make the realignment process slower. As a result, while kids might see quicker results, adults might need to wear braces for a longer period to achieve the desired outcome. 

See also: Is 40 Too Old for Braces?

Type of Braces or Orthodontic Appliances Used

The duration of orthodontic treatment often depends on the type of braces chosen. Metal braces, a traditional option, tend to be efficient and can address a wide range of issues, often within 6 to 24 months. Porcelain braces, while offering a more discreet appearance due to their color blending with teeth, may require a slightly longer period because they are not as strong as metal ones. Lingual appliances, fitted behind the teeth and thus hidden from view, can extend treatment time further due to the complexity of their placement and adjustment. 

Patient Compliance

Orthodontic treatment is a dynamic process that requires not only the expertise of an orthodontist but also the active participation of the patient. Essentially, the more closely a patient follows the orthodontist’s instructions, the better and faster the results tend to be. This includes wearing any additional equipment like elastics as advised, attending regular check-ups, and practicing good oral care. Avoiding foods that could harm the braces and reporting any problems immediately can also make a difference. When patients don’t adhere to these guidelines, treatment can take longer than initially estimated. 

Why Your Braces Take Longer Than Expected – Potential Delays and Setbacks

The duration of orthodontic treatment with braces can vary widely among patients. While many of them anticipate a set timeline, sometimes the process extends beyond initial estimates. Various factors can cause this extension, and it’s important to understand the potential reasons behind such delays. Let’s take a look:

Oral Health Issues

Poor oral hygiene can contribute to extended braces treatment. When teeth and gums are not clean and healthy, they may not move as expected, prolonging the treatment. It is crucial for patients to maintain good oral hygiene, including brushing, flossing, and regular dental checkups, to avoid setbacks due to oral health issues.

Physical Trauma or Accidents

Physical trauma to the mouth or face can also cause delays in braces treatment. Accidents may result in damaged braces or injured teeth, requiring additional time for healing and repairs. It is important to take precautionary measures, such as wearing mouthguards during sports activities, to minimize the risk of injury.

Inconsistent Adjustments

Frequent rescheduling of adjustment appointments can extend the treatment duration. Delayed adjustments may hinder the expected teeth movement progress. 

DOS AND DON’TS to Complete Treatment on Time

Braces treatment involves certain practices that can help achieve optimal results in the expected timeframe. Knowing what to do and what to avoid is crucial for the success of the treatment. 


  • Maintain proper oral hygiene by brushing and flossing regularly.
  • Attend all orthodontic appointments as scheduled. The adjustments made during these visits are vital for progress.
  • Follow your orthodontist’s instructions on wearing rubber bands, retainers, and other orthodontic appliances.
  • Choose softer foods and cut them into small pieces to avoid damaging your braces.


  • Eat hard, sticky, or chewy foods that can damage your brackets and wires, leading to delays in treatment. Avoid caramel, popcorn, and raw vegetables like carrots.
  • Engage in high-impact sports without using a mouthguard. Protect your braces and teeth from injury.
  • Try adjusting your braces or rubber bands by yourself. Leave it to the professionals.

Why Do Braces Take Longer than Invisalign?

When considering orthodontic treatment, many patients find themselves comparing traditional braces with Invisalign. Both options aim to correct dental misalignments, but the duration and methods they employ differ significantly.

Traditional braces generally take longer to produce results when compared to Invisalign. The main reason for this difference in treatment time is that braces require a series of physical adjustments to the brackets and wires in order to move teeth into their desired positions. These adjustments are performed by an orthodontist at regular intervals, and each adjustment causes the teeth to shift gradually.

In contrast, Invisalign treatment consists of a series of custom-made clear aligners that are replaced every two weeks. This allows for a more consistent and continuous pressure on the teeth, often leading to faster results. Moreover, Invisalign treatment plans are usually shorter than those for braces, with Invisalign patients typically requiring 7 to 18 months of treatment, compared to 20-24 months for traditional braces.

Aligners as an Alternative to Braces

Individuals who are looking for a more time-efficient and affordable solution for straightening their teeth should explore the option of clear aligners. Clear aligners are comfortable and discreet when worn, and offer efficient results.

See some reviews of the best invisible aligners available here:

Byte Review –  The top pick, this aligner is affordable and comes with a free HyperBite and teeth whitening kit.  This product also has a lifetime guarantee.



An affordable option with refundable impression kits, free HyperByte, and a Byte for Life guarantee.

Check out Byte Aligners

NewSmile Review –  A low-cost option with premium aesthetics this product comes with a free retainer and teeth whitening kit.



Affordable at-home treatment with positive reviews offering superior look and comfort.

Check out NewSmile Aligners

Candid Review –  Similar to Invisalign aligners with very positive reviews.



A hybrid of in-office and at-home treatment that provides 1-on-1 orthodontist support.

Check out Candid Aligners

ALIGNERCO – The lowest price and a zero deposit monthly payment plan. 



The cheapest at-home aligners, with monthly plans, no down payment, and considerable discounts.

Check out AlignerCo Aligners


Lombardo, G., Vena, F., Negri, P., Pagano, S., Barilotti, C., Paglia, L., Colombo, S., Orso, M., Cianetti, S., Worldwide prevalence of malocclusion in the different stages of dentition: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Eur J Paediatr Dent. 2020 Jun;21(2):115-122. DOI: 10.23804/ejpd.2020.21.02.05. Available online at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32567942/

Ke, Y. et al. A comparison of treatment effectiveness between clear aligner and fixed appliance therapies. BMC Oral Health. 2019. doi: 10.1186/s12903-018-0695-z Available online at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6343314/

Agostino, P., Ugolini, A., Signori, A., Silvestrini-Biavati, A., Harrison, J. E., Riley, P., Orthodontic treatment for posterior crossbites. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014 Aug 8:(8):CD000979. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD000979.pub2.

Iza Wojnarowski

Content contributor

Iza is a dedicated content contributor for Toothific. Having worn braces twice and currently using Invisalign to correct a mild overbite, Iza brings a unique perspective to her writing. She spends her time staying updated on the latest dental trends and treatments, ensuring her readers have the most current information for their dental care needs.

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