How Long Does it Take to Get Braces?

Does your child have an overbite or overcrowded teeth? Likely, your child needs to schedule an appointment to get braces. How long does it take to get dental braces put on? What should you expect?

In most cases, the entire procedure will take between one and two hours. However, certain factors can influence the amount of time it takes, including the type of braces your child is getting and the severity of their alignment issues.

We explain the process, what you should do before and after and what to expect in follow-up appointments. Read on for more tips on getting braces and finding an orthodontist in your area.

Cute teenage girl sitting in a dentist chair at dentist office

Understanding Braces: A Guide for Parents

Educating yourself about braces before your child’s orthodontist appointment will give you a better idea of what to expect going into it.

Different Types of Braces

When going to your child’s orthodontist appointment, know the type of braces your child wants. This should be discussed with your orthodontist in advance, but because the pricing varies for each type, you may consider one type over the other.

There are several types of braces to choose from, including:

  • Metal Braces—These braces feature traditional metal brackets and wires, and are the least expensive braces option. Many orthodontists feature colored bands for a personal touch or offer clear bands, which are less visible.
  • Ceramic Braces—Similar in size and shape to metal braces, ceramic braces’ brackets blend in with the natural color of your teeth. They also correct your alignment quicker than metal braces.
  • Lingual Braces—These braces place the metal brackets on the inside of the mouth, so they are not able to be seen. However, these are typically more costly than metal braces.
  • Invisalign—This is a nearly invisible plastic mouth guard that is custom-fit to your child’s teeth. Your child’s options for eating are less strict with this option, although the aligners must be replaced every couple of weeks.

Preparing for Braces

In advance of getting braces put on, you will likely have more than one visit with your orthodontist to discuss options, agree on a dental plan and prepare for the actual process of getting the braces. Here’s what you can expect in the weeks or months leading up to the dental procedure for traditional braces or ceramic braces:

  • Your orthodontist will get X-rays, photos and impressions of your mouth, showing your teeth alignment and your jaw. Plaster models of your mouth will likely be created.
  • You and the orthodontist will agree on a plan and which braces are most suitable (and affordable) for your child.
  • Orthodontic separators will be placed in between your child’s back teeth. These spacers could be elastic or metal, and look like tiny blue rubber bands. They are left on for about 1–2 weeks in order to separate the teeth before putting on braces.

When separators are in, the child should avoid cold drinks and cold foods like ice cream or popsicles. They may cause the surrounding gums to swell and could easily irritate the child. However, they should not be picked at or removed. The child should continue brushing their teeth as normal, but they should not floss.

How Long Does It Take to Get Braces? What Does It Feel Like?

On the day of the actual procedure for putting on braces, the child should thoroughly clean their teeth. How long does it take to get braces put on? It could take up to two hours.

During the actual appointment, the orthodontist will do the following:

  • Clean and dry the patient’s teeth
  • Bond the brackets to the front teeth with bonding glue
  • Place the archwire in the brackets, securing it with elastic bands

The patient should expect an unpleasant taste from the glue and the metal. Getting the braces cemented in will feel uncomfortable and following the appointment, patients should expect additional discomfort.

Braces Aftercare: What to Do Immediately Following Your Dental Procedure

Your child’s teeth and mouth may be sore right after getting braces. This discomfort typically lasts between one to two weeks. Getting use to the braces, however, could take a little longer, so patients should expect to feel strange for a few weeks.

Here are some tips that will help your child adjust to having braces in the immediate days following the dental procedure:

  • Eat soft foods and liquids including soup, yogurt, eggs, mashed potatoes and bananas for the first few days.
  • Rinse mouth with salt water several times a day to soothe soreness. Continue to do this if the soreness continues.
  • Take Tylenol or Motrin, as needed.
  • Use orthodontic wax to help relieve discomfort, which you can ask for at the orthodontist office.
  • Use an over-the-counter oral anesthetic like Anbesol or Orajel™ to numb the sore areas temporarily. You should discontinue this after the first week.

In the first few weeks or months, you may notice the following, which is completely normal:

  • Sores on your inner cheeks or gums from accidentally biting or from simply rubbing against the braces.
  • Overall discomfort. Because your mouth isn’t used to them, constantly rubbing or sucking can irritate your teeth. Avoid popsicles, straws or rubbing your tongue across the braces.
  • Difficulty eating certain foods such as soda, ice, apples, popcorn, hard candies, corn on the cob, nuts, pretzels and other hard foods, which could impact your braces or cause a wire to break. It is best to avoid these foods, if possible, or you could end up in the orthodontist’s chair again.

In most cases, your child will only have to wear braces for one to two years. Talk to your child’s orthodontist to get a better estimate for how long your child will need to wear braces.

In follow-up treatments, you can expect the wires to be replaced and tightened, which will likely cause soreness again. When this happens, you can use the tips included above.

Rubber bands may be added to your routine. If so, you will be expected to put them on throughout your day and remove them when eating or performing oral care. You should not double up your rubber bands. This will not speed up the treatment. Your orthodontist may also require you to wear headgear, which is secured onto your braces.

At the end of your child’s treatment, they will have a new found confidence and a bright new smile to last a lifetime.

Cheerful African American teenage girl smiles confidently at the camera. She is wearing a pink sweater. A window is in the background.

How Long Does It Take to Get Braces Off?

To ensure that braces do what they are intended to do, without causing oral health concerns, we highly recommend staying on top of your dental care and your follow-up dental appointments. Getting braces removed is an exciting thing, especially if a child wears them for two years, but how long does the process of removal take?

Removing braces will take about an hour. Here’s what you can expect during this dental appointment:

  • A plier will be used to remove the brackets from your teeth.
  • The glue will be scraped off of your teeth.
  • Once the brackets and the wires are removed, your teeth may feel slimy and a little strange.
  • You should not endure any pain during this procedure.
  • If you have little yellow tartar or white marks on your teeth, you likely did a poor job cleaning your teeth and braces. If you wish to apply a whitening treatment, you should wait at least a month before doing so.
  • The orthodontist will probably fit you for a retainer. You can get a permanent retainer or a removable retainer. When getting fitted for a retainer, this may cause some discomfort.

Some orthodontists recommend nightly retainers and some orthodontists recommend that patients wear a permanent retainer, which is cemented against the back of the teeth on the top, bottom or both, depending on the patient. These are not visible and do not need to be removed, unless your dentist suggests otherwise.

Like braces, you will get used to wearing the permanent retainer, and you should take special care to brush and clean in between the metal and your teeth.

Get Braces Put On: Kool Smiles Offers Affordable Orthodontics Near You

Kool Smiles is a network of dental practices located throughout the United States. We have in-house orthodontists in many locations, and we offer no-cost braces consultations to determine the treatment option that best suits your child’s needs.

Because braces and orthodontic treatment can be expensive, we offer reasonable payment plans, so you can get your child the quality oral care they need. Kool Smiles accepts CareCredit and most major insurance providers, including Medicaid, SCHIP and TRICARE.

Want to find an office in your area? With over 100 offices across 16 different states, we make sure dental care is available for all families. Find a location near you or call Kool Smiles today at 254-781-0553 with any questions about braces treatment options, and/or schedule a no-cost consultation for your child.

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Sources:

Colgate: https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/cosmetic-dentistry/adult-orthodontics/what-are-lingual-braces-0414

Nationwide Chilren’s: https://www.nationwidechildrens.org/family-resources-education/health-wellness-and-safety-resources/helping-hands/dental-wearing-separators

OralB: http://www.oralb.com/embraceit/types-of-braces

Colgate: https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/cosmetic-dentistry/adult-orthodontics/four-reasons-you-might-need-permanent-retainer-removal-1014