If you’re considering braces for your child, one of the first questions you may ask is, “how long?” The purpose of braces is to resolve issues with your teeth, such as gaps, underbites, and overbites. The braces slowly work to move your teeth into their proper position. This takes time, and it’s not something that can be done overnight.
In general, most people wear braces from 18-24 months. There are cases that require a longer period of time (up to 4 years) and other cases that take less time. There are actually a variety of factors that come into play when determining the amount of time your child will need to wear his braces.
The first and most important factor is the severity of your child’s dental problems. If your child has large gaps, a tooth that is sideways, or a severe over or underbite, then it will generally take longer to fix his problems than a child with a few small gaps.
The second factor that comes into play is age. Braces can be put on in childhood, young adulthood, and even adulthood. In general, we advise having braces put on early. Not only can it help your child avoid larger dental problems later in life, but children’s teeth also tend to move at a quicker pace.
The third biggest factor actually depends on the child. There are special instructions for taking care of a set of braces. Your child will need regular appointments, along with daily brushing and flossing. This process takes longer with braces and needs to be done more often. There are also certain foods to avoid when wearing braces, and your child may have to wear bands and headgear.
A child who doesn’t follow these instructions can actually lengthen the amount of time he has to wear braces by several months. It’s important your child understands the importance of following these instructions and asking questions when he doesn’t understand how to do something properly. As a parent, you can help by making sure your child attends his regular appointments and encouraging him to wear the proper headgear, bands, or other equipment.
If your child has been recommended for braces, make an appointment with an orthodontist. She will be able to help determine the problems that need to be corrected in your child’s mouth and give you an estimate on how long it should take to fix them based on your child’s specific case.