How Long Will My Child Need Braces?

Duration of Orthodontic Treatment

When you realize your child may need braces at some point, you might wonder how long this will be a part of your life. Whether your child needs braces to straighten crooked teeth or to correct a bad bite, you understand that braces are extremely important to your child’s oral health, self-esteem, and wellbeing. But yes, they do take time and commitment! Follow proper procedures with care, and you can make the time as swift as possible—while still ending up with the optimum results! Below is information on what you can expect when you ask yourself, “how long will my child need braces?” 


Orthodontic work can be done at various ages, depending on your child’s needs. We treat children as young as 5 years old, or starting at around the age of 12 when the jaw has developed. The length of your child’s treatment will vary based on which age is the best age to start. It’s a good idea to have a consultation early so we can plan the best, easiest course of treatment. 

Early orthodontics. 

For some children, it makes sense to begin treatment as early as 5 years old. This phase of treatment is known as early orthodontics, and often the work is done to set the jaw up for future success. Early treatment makes room for permanent teeth before they arrive, often by using functional appliances like expanders. This phase is highly recommended for some because it often eliminates the need for painful tooth pulling and shortens the time needed for braces during phase 2 treatment. 

Phase one often takes 10-12 months, depending on how much change needs to occur. The functional appliance makes changes to the jaw for around 4-6 months, and then it holds the change in place for the remaining 6 months. 

Phase 2 or age 12+ orthodontics. 

Usually between the ages of 11-13, permanent teeth have erupted. At this time, braces can be used to straighten the teeth and correct bite issues. Timing of braces varies based on the severity of the case, but this phase takes an average of 2 years to complete. 

Types of braces. The length of treatment may be about the same, but your efforts are different depending on the types of braces: 

Metal: Braces can be what many consider to be standard braces—metal, with brackets and bands that are tightened at intervals. You will move more swiftly through this process if you: 

• Regularly show up to appointments to be sure they are adjusted when ready. 

• Take care of your braces, avoiding hard or sticky foods that may pull off brackets or cause issues that delay regular adjustments. 

Clear aligners: Clear aligners are invisible trays that go over your teeth. They come in a series of around 12 steps that you wear for a few weeks and then replace with the next step, slowly shifting your teeth into alignment. 

• You must commit to comply with wearing them at least 20 hours a day for the duration of treatment. Noncompliance is the main way to extend your treatment plan—something we’re sure no one wants!

• You must commit to regular visits to ensure things are moving along as planned. 

Other factors. The amount of time your child will need braces also depends on the individual child. Some children only need crooked teeth straightened, or had early orthodontics that set the jaw up to be ready to fit permanent teeth. This could shorten the timeline. 

Or, children have bite issues that may require more time to get the desired result. If your child needs rubber bands to correct bite issues, if the jaw needs to be aligned, or your child has severe malocclusion, the timeline may take longer. 

Commitment to care. Although it would be nice to shorten treatment as much as possible, you want to be sure your child’s time in braces results in the best possible outcome. If you commit to the recommended time and effort, we will do everything we can to be sure your child has a beautiful smile and bite in no time. Even though braces do take time and effort, they are a temporary blip in the grand scheme. As your child gets older, they will be grateful you took the time for braces.  

So, how long will my child need braces? 

The average is around 2 years, but we are happy to take a look and give you a more personalized timeline based on what we see. Are you interested in coming in for a free consultation? Set up your appointment to visit today! 

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