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Updated on December 2, 2023
5 min read

How Long Do Braces Take to Work?

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How Long Do Braces Take to Straighten Teeth?

Braces can take anywhere from six months to over three years to effectively straighten your teeth. On average, the total braces treatment time is about 25 months.1

The length of time you need to wear braces can vary depending on several factors. Some factors, such as how complex your alignment needs are, can't be changed.

dentist adjusting patients braces

However, you can closely follow your orthodontist’s instructions and maintain good oral hygiene. This can help make your treatment time as short as possible and prevent the need for additional treatment in the future.

5 Factors That Affect Treatment Time

No two people have the same teeth alignment needs. Orthodontic treatment can have a range of treatment times. Here are the five main factors that affect how long your treatment will take:

1. Complexity

Braces can handle a wide range of teeth alignment issues, but the complexity of your teeth misalignment will significantly affect how long treatment takes. 

If your teeth are severely misaligned, it will take longer for your braces to straighten your teeth. You may notice changes within a few weeks, but completely aligning your teeth may take two or three years.

Braces won’t need as long to correct minor crowding, a small gap, or a few misaligned teeth. Braces can usually correct these issues in less than one year.

2. Age

Your age can affect the length of your orthodontic treatment. Because children and teens are still growing, orthodontic treatment is easier than moving teeth in an adult.1

As a result, adults can still be great candidates for treatment with braces, but it may take longer than it would for a child.

Children and adolescents with jaw alignment issues can combine their braces with orthodontic headgear to guide their jaw growth. Adults, on the other hand, often need surgery to correct severe jaw misalignment.

3. Treatment Type

There are several types of braces or orthodontic devices, including:

  • Traditional metal braces made of stainless steel (the standard treatment for misaligned teeth)
  • Ceramic braces made of clear or tooth-colored ceramic
  • Clear aligners, a popular alternative to braces for milder alignment issues

Ceramic brackets may be less likely to fail than stainless steel brackets. This could make treatment with ceramic braces slightly faster than with traditional braces.2

woman with ceramic braces

Clear aligners also often take less time than braces. However, this is mainly because clear aligners are intended for more mild cases of teeth misalignment.

It’s also important to consider that clear aligners require more discipline from you as a patient (see below).

4. Adherence

Your adherence to your treatment plan can significantly affect your treatment length. It’s also the factor you have the most control over. Follow your orthodontist’s instructions to ensure your braces work as fast as possible.

Missing an appointment may add another month to your treatment time.3 Poor oral hygiene and eating foods that damage your braces can also slow treatment.

If you choose clear aligners as an alternative to braces, compliance with your treatment plan will still be important. Clear aligners have to be worn for 22 hours daily. You’ll also have to remember when to put them on and take them off.

While clear aligners don’t have the same food restrictions as braces, you’ll still have to maintain your oral hygiene.

5. Your Orthodontist

Your orthodontist’s experience, skill, and treatment plan also determine how long your braces take.

If your orthodontist has years of experience treating malocclusions or teeth misalignments like yours, you can be confident they will make your treatment as efficient as possible.

More frequent monitoring may also speed up your treatment time.3, 4 Your orthodontist may offer digital monitoring to check in more often.

Does Treatment Time Differ for Adults and Teens?

Because children and teens are still growing, it’s reasonable to expect their treatment may take less time. But the difference in treatment time between adults and teens isn't entirely clear.

Girl with teeth braces using interdental and traditional brush

One review found no significant difference in treatment time between adults and adolescents. However, more research may be needed to draw a firm conclusion.1

Adults and teens may have different treatment goals and expectations about how long treatment will take. A survey of 200 teenagers and 50 adults found that the teenagers hoped for shorter treatment times than the adults.5

Tips for Effective Braces Treatment

Your habits and decisions can significantly impact the length and results of your braces treatment. To ensure your time wearing braces is as effective as possible:

  • Choose an experienced orthodontist with good patient feedback
  • Brush and floss regularly to keep your teeth and braces clean
  • Follow your orthodontist’s instructions 
  • Don’t skip your adjustment appointments
  • Tell your orthodontist about any issues during treatment

You can’t control every factor involved in your braces treatment. But by doing the above, you can be sure you aren’t lengthening the treatment time. You’ll also increase your chances of getting the best possible outcome when your braces come off.

Why Are Adjustments Important?

As your braces work, your teeth gradually move into their new positions. Your appliances must also be adjusted every few weeks to provide the right amount of pressure.

When you miss an adjustment, your braces become less effective. They no longer apply the pressure needed to keep shifting your teeth at the same speed.

Skipping your adjustments will make your treatment longer. It may prevent you from getting the final results you want.

Summary

Braces are the standard treatment for people with misaligned teeth and bite issues. Treatment length with braces can vary depending on:

  • How complex your bite and alignment issues are
  • Your age
  • The type of braces (or clear aligners) you wear
  • How well you take care of your teeth and follow your treatment plan
  • The quality of your orthodontist


On average, orthodontic treatment takes just over two years. However, treatment times can vary, from just a few months for mild cases to over three years for severe misalignments.

Talk to your orthodontist to accurately assess your teeth alignment needs and develop a treatment plan.

Last updated on December 2, 2023
8 Sources Cited
Last updated on December 2, 2023
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Abbing, Allen, et al. "Duration of orthodontic treatment with fixed appliances in adolescents and adults: a systematic review with meta-analysis." Progress in Orthodontics, 2020.
  2. Ogiński, Tomasz et al. “A Clinical Comparison of Failure Rates of Metallic and Ceramic Brackets: A Twelve-Month Study.” BioMed Research International, 2020.
  3. Moresca, Ricardo. "Orthodontic treatment time: can it be shortened?" Dental Press Journal of Orthodontics, 2018.
  4. Torsello, Ferruccio, et al. "Factors Influencing Appliance Wearing Time during Orthodontic Treatments: A Literature Review." Applied Sciences, 2022.
  5. Uribe, Flavio, et al. "Patients', parents', and orthodontists' perceptions of the need for and costs of additional procedures to reduce treatment time." American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, 2014.
  6. Bichara, Lívia Monteiro, et al. “Factors influencing orthodontic treatment time for non-surgical Class III malocclusion.” Journal of Applied Oral Science, 2016.
  7. Mavreas, Dimitrios, and Athanasios E. Athanasiou. "Factors affecting the duration of orthodontic treatment: a systematic review." European Journal of Orthodontics, 2008.
  8. Kravitz, Neal D., et al. "What percentage of patients switch from Invisalign to braces? A retrospective study evaluating the conversion rate, number of refinement scans, and length of treatment." American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, 2022.
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