According to Health Grades, the average person with traditional metal braces will need to wear them around 18 to 24 months. If you choose clear aligners, you can expect to wear them for about 6 to 18 months. However, despite your orthodontist's original plan, it's not uncommon for you to wind up wearing your braces or sporting your clear aligner for longer than expected. If your orthodontist informs you that your braces or clear aligners will need to be used for more than you originally anticipated, here are a few common reasons why this occurred:
Underlying Medical Issues
Everyone's body and mouth is different, and sometimes, there are underlying and unexpected issues that will simply mean you will need to keep your braces on or utilize your clear aligners for longer than the orthodontist anticipated. For example, it could be something as simple as your teeth not aligning as quickly as another patient's, which can mean your braces aren't as effective as quickly.
However, there are other unexpected medical issues that can make straightening your teeth with braces or aligners a little trickier. For example, if you are diagnosed with dental ankyloses, you might have difficulty straightening your teeth. Dental ankyloses is a condition where the tooth's root and bone are fused. In most cases, there is a layer between the root and bone called the periodontal ligament. If this ligament isn't present, it can be difficult for the teeth to shift and align.
There are other conditions that can also extend the amount of time you need to sport your braces or aligners, including TMJ, or temporomandibular joint disorder. If you were diagnosed with TMJ or dental ankyloses in the past, or if your orthodontist discovers either of these conditions while you are being fitted for braces or clear aligners, don't hesitate to ask how this will impact your dental plan.
Before you are fitted with clear aligners or braces, your orthodontist will explain the amount of time and effort required to care for your teeth. Your orthodontist will also stress that not following their instructions could mean wearing your braces or clear aligners for a lot longer than you originally anticipated.
Not properly caring for your teeth while you are wearing braces or clear aligners can not only threaten your mouth's health, but it can also create a series of unnecessary problems. For example, if you miss, reschedule, or wait too long between orthodontist appointments, it can drastically impact the ability for your braces or aligners to successfully straighten your teeth. Remember, during these appointments, your orthodontist will not only see how you are progressing, but they will also determine if further dental procedures, such as tooth extractions, are needed.
Here are a few simple tips that can help ensure your braces or clear aligners don't need to remain in your mouth for any longer than necessary:
- Work with your orthodontist to create an appointment schedule that is realistic. For example, if you work during the day, ask the orthodontist to accommodate you by scheduling your appointments near the end of the work day.
- Arrive on-time, or even a little early, for your appointments. This will ensure your orthodontist and their technicians have adequate time to examine your mouth or perform any procedures and adjustments.
- Continue your oral hygiene routine. Remember to care for your braces and aligners, as instructed by your orthodontist. Remain vigilant, and don't hesitate to contact your orthodontist if you notice any signs of trouble.
Wearing braces or clear aligners can help you achieve the beautiful, straight smile you've always wanted. However, be aware that, sometimes, you can wind up wearing your braces or aligners for longer than originally anticipated. If this occurs, don't hesitate to ask your orthodontist about anything you can do as a patient to help keep everything on schedule. Talk with a dentist, such as those at Kazmierski Orthodontics, for more information.