How Long Will My Braces Be On?

As an orthodontist in Olathe and Overland Park, one of the most common questions I hear is, “How long will I have to wear braces?” Since orthodontics isn’t a one-size-fits-all deal and everyone’s mouths are unique, it will vary from patient to patient. Based on a national survey, it takes an average of 23 months to complete orthodontic treatment.. Some lucky patients get in and out in as little as six months and others can require treatment for three years. While we can’t give you an exact length of time, we can talk about factors that influence the duration of your braces or Invisalign treatment.

Type of Orthodontic Treatment

“Traditional” orthodontic treatment consists of metal braces and wires. These traditional appliances are the most common type of braces used, but are not the only option available to patients. Metal braces are made from high-grade stainless steel and are therefore very strong. Ceramic braces are more aesthetic compared to metal braces, but tend to be thicker because they are more brittle. Friction between the wire and the braces as teeth move tends to be higher in ceramic braces compared to metal braces and this can play a role in the length of treatment (higher friction results in slower tooth movement). A skilled orthodontist with a good understanding of the mechanics needed to move teeth can make adjustments to overcome the additional friction and recent advancements in ceramic brackets have also narrowed the treatment time gap between metal and ceramic braces. At Moon Orthodontics we also offer SureSmile, a cutting-edge orthodontic technology that can significantly decrease treatment time. SureSmile utilizes 3-D digital diagnostics and treatment simulation in conjunction with robotically-adjusted memory-alloy archwires for more precise and efficient tooth movement which results in shorter treatment times.

Another option available to patients is Invisalign. Invisalign utilizes 3-D digital diagnostics and treatment simulation similar to SureSmile, but teeth are straightened with clear aligners as opposed to braces and wires. Because of this, variables like friction are not an issue and treatment can be faster compared to braces in many cases. One of the more exciting trends in orthodontics is “accelerated orthodontics” where the patient’s biology is manipulated at the cellular level to speed up tooth movement. One of those accelerated orthodontic techniques that we use at Moon Orthodontics is Propel. This orthodontic technique can be combined with braces or Invisalign to help teeth move into place up to 50% faster which means you could potentially cut your treatment time in half regardless of the type of braces or appliances you choose.


Age is also a factor in how long you’ll have to wear braces to achieve your desired results. We welcome people of all ages to come in for a consultation, but we recommend that children be initially evaluated by an orthodontist at age 7. Because little ones’ jaws are still growing and can be easier manipulated some significant dental and/or skeletal issues can be corrected without aggressive treatment if addressed early enough. In these cases, preventative and interceptive (Phase I) orthodontic treatment will be started before all the patient’s permanent teeth are in place. This tends to result in faster, easier comprehensive treatment when they’re teenagers. Adults are done growing and developing and could potentially have to wear braces for a longer time than kids or teens to get dramatic results. This does not mean that all adult treatment is going to last two years or more, though. Depending on the goals of treatment, many adults can get the smile that they want in a year or less.

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How Long Will My Braces Be On?

Your Individual Case

The main factor influencing how long you’ll be in treatment is the severity of your case and the type of skeletal and dental issues that need to be addressed. A person with mild crowing or spacing might only need braces for a year, followed by a retainer. However, someone with severe crowding might be in treatment for much longer. A problem like a significant underbite that isn’t addressed early, could require more time in braces and even surgery if the patient is an adult.

What You Put Into It

Patient compliance and a patient’s attitude towards treatment can play a significant role in treatment time and results. A non-compliant patient can prolong treatment and make it difficult to finish with a good result. By working together with your orthodontist, you can help ensure that you get exceptional results in a short time. This means keeping up with your oral hygiene, attending all of your appointments, and using your appliances as directed. If, for example, you only wear your Invisalign aligners for 12 hours per day instead of the required 20 to 22 hours per day, it will take much longer to straighten your teeth.

Additional Factors

While your age, the type of treatment you choose, the severity of your case, and your level of compliance all play a role in how long you’ll be in treatment, other factors like biology factor in as well. Every patient is different and teeth move at different speeds.

The only way to determine how long you’ll need to wear braces or Invisalign is to actually visit an orthodontist. At Moon Orthodontics we offer free consultations at our Olathe and Overland Park offices. At your consultation we’ll take records (i.e. pictures, x-rays), perform a thorough examination, discuss your needs, present you with treatment options, and let you know how long your treatment will take. We can also chat about accelerated options to help you get the smile of your dreams in the shortest amount of time. Contact us today to get started.