Why Does Length of Treatment Vary?

Some people end up only needing treatment with braces or Invisalign for about a year or a year-and-a-half. Others end up needing treatment for three years. The American Association of Orthodontics says that the average length of treatment time for all patients is about 22 months. So why do treatment times vary so widely?

Needed Adjustments

How much adjustment and the type of adjustment can play a major role in the amount of time that an orthodontic treatment requires. For example, if a patient needs just minor shifting of the teeth, they may only need treatment with braces or Invisalign for a year. If multiple teeth need to make a major migration, it’s going to take longer. Sometimes it will take much longer. It may sound like a cliche, but it’s very true: Every patient is unique. That’s why we come up with an individualized treatment plan and recommendation for every patient at Melbourne Orthodontics.

Sometimes an adjustment needs to be made to a patient’s bite. If they have a cross-bite or an over/underbite, treatment time will generally take much longer than simply straightening the teeth. Adjustments need to be made to the jaw and the teeth in these cases. The more things that need to be shifted around, and the amount of shifting, will always play a role in the patient’s treatment time.

Age of the Patient

Most patients get braces during their teenage years. The majority of patients get braces between the ages of 8 and 14. There are good reasons for this.

The teeth and bones of younger patients are much more pliable than in older patients. It’s easier to shift the teeth with braces during those teenage years. We don’t say that to discourage older patients. People at any age can benefit from braces to straighten their smile. Patients should simply understand that it’s easier to shift the teeth in teenagers, and therefore their treatment times are going to be shorter. There are also some treatments that can be used on young patients that won’t work as a person gets older.

When a person is well into adulthood, it can take longer to make major adjustments to the teeth. All of their permanent or “adult” teeth are in, and they’ve been in place so long that they can be stubborn when it comes to moving them with braces. In general, younger patients will have a shortened treatment time, while an older patient with the exact same needed adjustments will require more time.

Medications the Patient is Taking

Certain medications can increase the amount of time that a person will need to undergo treatment. Medications for osteoporosis, for example, can impact treatment time. Osteoporosis is a condition in which the patient’s bone is not regenerating fast enough, or in which their body is not creating enough bone cells. Prescription medications from the patient’s doctor can help to offset the symptoms of osteoporosis.

However, those medications can also make it harder to adjust the patient’s teeth. This is why it is critically important to share information with your Melbourne orthodontist about any and all over-the-counter and prescription medications that you take.

Not Following Your Orthodontist’s Instructions

When a patient is fitted with braces or Invisalign trays, they will be given specific instructions on oral care while undergoing treatment. This is not a new science. Orthodontists know that certain lifestyle choices, dietary choices, and oral care choices can have an impact on how long a patient needs treatment.

If a patient is forgetful or just chooses not to follow their orthodontist’s instructions, their treatment time can be drastically impacted. Follow the guidelines our office will share with you when it comes to diet, brushing after every meal, flossing every day, keeping every appointment, and avoiding foods that can be harmful to your braces.

Contact Melbourne Orthodontics

You won’t know how long your treatment will take until the process gets under way. Contact us to schedule your first appointment.