How Long Will My Orthodontic Treatment Be?

Teens, adults, and anywhere in between – for almost every patient we see, the most common question tends to be “how long will my treatment take?” From the day you begin treatment with Cowan Orthodontics, the countdown is on to us revealing your beautiful new smile. With so many factors involved in the orthodontic process there’s no “one size fits all” answer to that question! 

Every orthodontic patient is unique. From your hair to your shoes, you are YOU, and that goes for your smile. While we may not be able to give you a definitive answer on how long orthodontic treatment takes, we can take a look at average treatment times to give you a better idea of how long you may be in braces or aligners. Let’s explore some of the factors that can affect treatment times to learn more!

What you’re being treated for

The more comprehensive the required treatment, the longer the treatment time will be. If you have a relatively healthy bite with only mild crowding or spacing, you may have a relatively short treatment time. If you have more serious issues, such as severely displaced teeth or a significant bite discrepancy, you’ll likely need more time to correct the problem.  

How well your body responds

Here at Cowan Orthodontics, we provide personalized treatment plans because no two patients will have identical responses to treatment. This means that even if you have the exact same orthodontic issue as someone else, it’s unlikely your teeth will respond to treatment in the exact same way. You can’t compare your treatment to others because your mouth is completely different. Things like bone density, the thickness of the gum tissues, whether you clench or grind your teeth, chewing patterns, and oral habits vary from person to person, and will have an effect on the overall process. 

Dr. Cowan talking to a patient 

Patient compliance

As an orthodontic patient, you are a key player in the success of your treatment. Your willingness to comply with treatment can impact Dr. Cowan’s ability to complete the process within the estimated time frame given. Dr. Cowan does the work of putting your braces on or prescribing the movements associated with your aligners, but YOU have an incredibly important job, too! 

First, you should always follow Dr. Cowan’s instructions concerning your orthodontic treatment. This means brushing and flossing regularly (and effectively), wearing rubber bands as prescribed, and keeping all your scheduled appointments. When you aren’t diligent about maintaining your oral health, treatment may be slowed down or even stopped completely while any damage is cared for. On the flip side, being vigilant about caring for your teeth can sometimes decrease the amount of time you’ll need to be treated!

Keeping up with your regularly scheduled appointments is a critical part of the treatment plan because the movement of your teeth throughout the orthodontic process is precisely guided by Dr. Cowan. We understand that life happens and you may sometimes need to cancel or reschedule an appointment, but for the best results, stick to the schedule as closely as possible. 

Breaking your orthodontic appliances can push back your treatment schedule as well, so it’s important that you treat your appliances with care. If a bracket is broken or comes loose, it’s not considered an emergency, but we will want to rebond it as soon as we can. When a bracket isn’t properly bonded to your teeth, there is no active tooth movement occurring, which can add time to the treatment process. You can do your part in preventing breakage by avoiding any foods that are crunchy, chewy, or sticky, as these can weaken the bond strength of your brackets. 

Your age

It may sound strange, but your age can play a part in treatment time. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends children have their first orthodontic evaluation by the age of 7, and we agree. While children this young are rarely ready for orthodontic treatment, an initial visit with Dr. Cowan allows us to get baseline records and monitor growth.  We can then determine the best time to start treatment, which in turn may minimize time in active treatment. Young jaws are still growing which allows Dr. Cowan more control over correcting the bite. If you have a child around this age, we would love to meet them!

Patients at the Cowan Ortho front desk

Hang in there! It’s worth it.

Patience is key during orthodontic treatment, but the good news is orthodontics has advanced so much in recent years that treatment times are often far shorter than ever before! Using a variety of treatment options, we’re able to move your teeth comfortably and efficiently. On average, braces tend to be worn between one and three years, and a clear aligner therapy system like Invisalign can take slightly less time. It’s important to remember going in that you won’t have an exact date for treatment to be completed. Depending on a number of factors, including those listed above, treatment time may last slightly longer, slightly shorter, or exactly what we predict when you begin the process. Working together with our talented team, you’ll be seeing your brand-new smile in the mirror before you know it! 

If you would like to know what orthodontics has to offer you or how long your treatment is likely to last, we invite you to schedule a consultation with our Tuscaloosa office today! Call 205.750.0081 or click here for more information. 

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