The length of orthodontic treatment varies with every patient and is affected by several factors. Some of these factors are inherent in the diagnosis of the patient, such as complexity of the case, and are therefore predictable indicators of treatment duration. Other factors, such as patient cooperation, are less predictable but equally important in determining the duration of treatment. For this reason, the treatment duration usually is approximated to be within 1 1/2 to 2 years.
More complex orthodontic cases will require more treatment time. On the other hand, minor adjustments or partial treatment will require less treatment time. Treatment time is also longer when the treatment involves a multidisciplinary approach, like jaw surgery or implant cases.
Perhaps the greatest influence in determining orthodontic treatment time will be the patient’s cooperation. The compliance of the patient is very important so that treatment can move along efficiently. Wearing elastics or bite plates as instructed, properly maintaining the brackets and wires and regularly keeping to appointments will allow treatment to progress as quickly as possible. Failure of the patient to comply with all these will result to delay of treatment. Unfortunately, the orthodontist has little control on this aspect of treatment. Poor patient cooperation is the most often reason for the treatment duration to be longer than expected.
Orthodontic treatment does not end when the dental braces are removed. After the braces are removed, the patient will need to wear a retainer to keep their teeth in position. During this time, the patient will still need to visit the orthodontist regularly.