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When Do I Get My Braces Off?

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The first question that many patients ask an orthodontist when they learn that they need teeth correction is, “When will I get my braces off?” The answer is going to vary from patient to patient, as the dental health need of every patient is different. However, there are some basic goals and milestone markers that are the same for just about every patient. These can help the patient know approximately how much longer they will have their braces or Invisalign on.


How do they prepare teeth for treatment?

When orthodontists see that a patient has teeth that are severely crowded, the first thing they need to do is expand the patient’s arches. Orthodontists will determine whether expansion of the arches is best by looking at the patient’s jaw, the number and size of teeth in their mouth, the health and strength of their jawbone, as well as the condition of their gums and roots. If patients have extra space in their mouth at the start of the treatment, the orthodontist will then work to close that space as part of treatment.

How do they straighten teeth?

Once the right amount of room has been created in the mouth, the process of straightening the teeth can begin. The doctor is going to do this by using braces with wires or Invisalign to move the teeth into the desired position.

How do they get the bit to line up?

The third part of this orthodontic treatment is making the upper teeth match the lower teeth. Teeth must match each other front to back and side to side, which means to have no overbite (overjet), under bite, and no cross bite. They must also match each other top to bottom with no deep bite or open bite..

Wires, rubber bands, springs are examples of what can be used to get the upper and lower teeth to match each other. When teeth are properly aligned, the back of the upper set of teeth will gently rest in front of the lower set of teeth.

When will treatment end?

By this phase of treatment, a patient will start to notice an improvement in their smile. It is around this time that patients begin to wonder when braces/Invisalign will be done. During the first phase of treatment, patients are excited because they see visible evidence that the treatment is working. However, it is during the second phase of treatment that more patience is required because although the results are not dramatic, the work being done during the second phase of treatment is what guarantees that the new bite stays healthy and stable.

Some questions that a patient can ask to determine if they are nearing the end of their orthodontic treatment include:

  • Are my teeth straight?
  • Do I have spaces between my teeth?
  • Do my upper and lower teeth overlap correctly?
  • Do I have an overbite or an under bite?

Teeth that are obviously crooked, that have an overbite, or that have large spaces between them will need additional treatment before the correctional devices can be removed. If treatment is taking longer than expected, speak to your doctor and have them explain what the end goal for the treatment is and where you are in that process.


Orthodontists have years of training and experience that allows them to come up with a treatment program that will best address your crooked teeth. Not all orthodontists treat teeth the same. Differences in treatment philosophy range from whether or not crowded teeth should be extracted vs. expanded, whether or not to use headgear as a first approach for an overbite, how long you will have braces on and how the curve of the smile should fit the face.

Why might treatment take a bit longer?

As a patient, you play a large role in the treatment time. Orthodontists may craft the perfect treatment, missing /changing appointments, breaking wires / brackets between the visits, or not following instructions for wearing elastics can delay the conclusion of the treatment time and may affect the final results.

Finally, there are certain things that even the best orthodontists in the world cannot control and that is the way that a patient’s body will respond to treatment. When orthodontists give an estimate on how long treatment will take, they are basing it on the complexity of the problem, as well as how long it takes most people to respond to the treatment. Some patients have teeth that align themselves faster than others. Regardless of how diligent you are and regardless of how experienced the doctor is, a patient’s teeth will need to cooperate for the procedure to be completed in a timely manner.

Find Your Unique Smile at Gorton & Schmohl Orthodontics

In Larkspur, Calif., you can learn more about orthodontic treatments that will help you find your smile. Gorton & Schmohl Orthodontics has a team of orthodontists who include:

• Dr. Jasmine Gorton
• Dr. Bill Schmohl

At our orthodontic facility, we provide treatments to children, teenagers and adults with these devices:

• Braces – WildSmiles, traditional or ceramic
• Aligners – made by Invisalign
• Retainers – to keep your teeth in place
• Damon Clear – self-ligating devices

Our patients are treated using the Wow Smiles system that creates a unique smile for your face. Call us today at 415-459-8006 to schedule your first appointment.

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