How Long Does Orthodontic Treatment Take

Many people who are considering pursuing orthodontic treatment typically have one crucial question: “How long will my orthodontic treatment take?” Today, we’re breaking down everything you need to know so that you can approach your orthodontic treatment in Sydney fully informed.

Different Types of Orthodontic Treatment

The first thing to consider is that there are different types of orthodontic treatment; each type operates differently and consequently may take a different amount of time to complete. Below are common types of orthodontics:

Traditional Braces: Traditional braces operate on a simple yet effective system: brackets are cemented directly to the surface of each tooth, and wires are used to connect the brackets to each other.

It is currently estimated that over 400,000 Australians are currently undergoing orthodontic treatment with the use of traditional braces.

Over the course of treatment, the wires are tightened. This creates a significant amount of pressure that actually shifts the teeth slowly yet effectively.

Braces have been used as a successful form of orthodontics for over two hundred years; the first braces were made of metal and were quite bulky. Over time, they have been altered to provide the most comfortable experience possible. 

Modern braces are available in stainless steel and ceramic, which can actually be designed to be clear and almost invisible, providing an extremely discreet overall look. For people who are not ideal candidates for Invisalign but are looking for the “invisible braces” look, this is an excellent option.

Traditional braces typically take anywhere between 16-24 months to complete treatment, though it is important to keep in mind that treatment time varies from patient to patient depending on a myriad of factors (which we will discuss in just a minute).

Invisalign: Invisalign was developed and released to the public in 1999 to provide a modern alternative to traditional braces. It is currently estimated that over 40,000 Australians use Invisalign treatment each year.

While Invisalign operates on the same principle of applying pressure to shift the teeth, there is one key difference: this orthodontic treatment method makes use of clear aligner trays rather than brackets and wires.

The aligner trays are designed based on models of the patient’s teeth; they are made to fit snugly over the teeth and provide an impressively discreet look. In fact, Invisalign trays are very difficult to identify with the naked eye. 

Patients wear the trays for 1-2 weeks. After this time is up, they receive a new set of trays that focus on aligning a different portion of the smile. This continues until treatment is complete; most patients will typically receive anywhere between 20 and 30 sets of trays throughout the course of their Invisalign treatment.

This is a large drawing factor, as the appearance of traditional braces can tend to be a source of embarrassment for many people. Having the ability to undergo orthodontic treatment without sacrificing the overall appearance of the smile is a valuable and notable benefit for many patients.

Patients have the ability to quickly and easily remove their clear aligner trays whenever needed for activities like eating, brushing, and flossing, though it is important to keep in mind that the trays must be worn for a minimum of 22 hours each day.

Invisalign is an excellent orthodontic treatment method, but it may not be an ideal treatment method for everyone. Patients who are in need of more extensive treatment may not be ideal candidates for Invisalign, as traditional braces are typically used to treat more serious alignment or bite issues. 

Invisalign treatment time typically falls between 12-18 months, though as previously mentioned, treatment time varies between each patient.

Varying Factors

There are a wide range of factors that may impact the amount of time that is needed to complete treatment, such as:

  • Treatment Needed: In order to achieve the smile of your dreams, your orthodontist will work with you to design a customized treatment plan. The amount of treatment that will be needed is dependent upon the severity of your case, as well as the intended end result. 


Patients who do not require a large amount of orthodontic correction typically experience shorter treatment times, while patients who require extensive orthodontic correction typically require a longer overall treatment time to ensure that everything is corrected.

  • Age of Patient: While there is no age limit for pursuing braces or Invisalign, there is a reason that orthodontic treatment is typically recommended somewhere between ten and fourteen years of age. 


Children’s bones are still actively developing and growing; administering corrective orthodontic treatment during this time is a fantastic way to ensure that both the jaw bone and the teeth develop properly - and in the correct positions. 

It is possible to undergo orthodontic treatment as an older teen or adult, but it is important to keep in mind that treatment may take a bit longer than it would for a child or young teen, as the jaw bones and teeth have already fully developed and must be re-adjusted.


  • Patient’s Dental Health and Hygiene: The health of your teeth and gums has a direct effect on the efficacy of your treatment - as well as how long it will take to complete.


Cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease (also known as periodontitis) are all examples of oral health conditions that tend to have a direct effect on the patient’s ability to properly pursue orthodontic treatment. 

Pre-existing oral conditions must be fully treated prior to beginning braces or Invisalign, and if any issues arise during the duration of treatment, treatment must be temporarily halted to ensure that the issue at hand is dealt with accordingly.

In some extreme cases, braces may actually need to be removed to administer necessary treatment, and will be re-applied once the health of the teeth or gums is restored; this can potentially place a considerable delay on the course and outcome of treatment.

Keeping your teeth and orthodontic appliance clean is especially important- whether you have traditional braces or Invisalign. Be sure to keep up with thoroughly brushing and flossing twice each day, and if possible, after each meal. This will help keep both the teeth and gums healthy and strong, which ultimately helps avoid delays in treatment time.

It is also crucial to keep up with your regularly-scheduled dental cleaning appointments. Even if you consider yourself an avid brusher and flosser, it is quite possible that you may be missing a spot or two - especially if you have traditional braces, which can make it especially difficult to properly clean all surfaces of the teeth. 

During your professional teeth cleaning appointment, your hygienist will thoroughly clean the teeth, being sure to treat the areas in the back of the mouth that you may have trouble reaching on your own. These dental hygiene appointments are absolutely crucial to maintaining your dental health - especially while you are undergoing orthodontic treatment.

  • Compliance with Orthodontist’s Instructions: Patients who are fully dedicated to their treatment and are compliant with their orthodontist’s instructions are likely to experience faster treatment time. 


Patients who have traditional braces will need to ensure that they are avoiding sticky, hard, or crunchy foods to prevent breaks in the brackets or wires. A broken wire or bracket has the potential to set treatment time back, as the patient will have to return to the office to have either a repair or replacement carried out.

As previously mentioned, patients will also need to ensure that they are thoroughly brushing and flossing; it can be quite easy for food and other debris to become trapped in the brackets and wires, which can ultimately lead to decay or tooth damage. Practicing proper oral hygiene can help prevent significant delays in treatment time by keeping the teeth and gums strong and healthy.

Invisalign patients will need to ensure that they are wearing their trays for a minimum of 22 hours each day; this is done to ensure that the trays have a sufficient amount of time to apply pressure to shift the teeth. If the trays are not worn for the recommended amount of time, the overall treatment time is likely to be delayed. 

  • Prescription Medications: Believe it or not, the medications that you take on a regular basis can actually have a direct effect on your teeth’s ability to shift and move into place. 


Estrogen, immunosuppressants, NSAIDs, and hormone replacement medications are all examples of medications that may have adverse affects on overall orthodontic treatment time.

Alternatively, some medications may actually help speed up treatment time. These medications include thyroid hormones and Vitamin D, just to name a few.

For this reason, it is important to inform your orthodontist of any and all medications that you are taking. Your treatment plan will be altered as needed, and in some cases, your orthodontist may contact your primary physician to discuss the details of your medication.

  • Type of Orthodontic Treatment Used

The type of orthodontic treatment that is used for your treatment has a direct effect on the amount of time your treatment takes. 

As previously mentioned, traditional braces typically take anywhere between 16-24 months, while Invisalign patients are typically finished with their treatment somewhere between 12-18 months. 

  • Additional Orthodontic Appliances

In some cases, additional orthodontic appliances may be used to supplement your treatment. The use of these appliances may affect the overall length of treatment.

Examples of additional orthodontic appliances that may be used during treatment include palatal expanders, orthodontic headgear, and rubber bands. 

These types of appliances are typically used to correct issues with the jaw alignment and width in order to ensure that the teeth can be properly shifted into the correct positions. If your orthodontist adds one of these types of appliances into your treatment plan, he or she will inform you of how it will affect your overall treatment.

Consult Your Orthodontist

With the information you have learned here, you should have a much more solid idea of what to expect when it comes to the overall timeline of orthodontic treatment. 

To get the best idea of just how long your orthodontic treatment will take, it is best to consult your orthodontist. Here at FY Smile, we will be more than happy to conduct a thorough orthodontic consultation for you. We will present you with a comprehensive treatment plan that works best for you, and based upon the factors that we have discussed here today, we will be able to give you a rough estimate of just how long you can expect your orthodontic treatment to take.

Of course, we can not give an exact estimate, and there are a few things that may change along the way, but as your trusted Sydney orthodontist, we strive to help you be as informed about your treatment as possible.

FY Smile: Best Orthodontist in Sydney

As you have learned here, your overall orthodontic treatment time will be influenced by a number of different factors. No two treatment plans or experiences are exactly alike; the best way to determine how long you can expect your treatment to take is to consult your trusted orthodontist.  

Here at FY Smile, we strive to provide our patients with an unparalleled level of dental care; that is why we are proud to offer comprehensive dental and orthodontic treatment in beautiful Sydney. Our team of dental professionals is here to provide the treatment you need to create a beautiful and healthy smile.

Your journey towards optimal dental health begins here. In addition to offering both traditional braces and Invisalign in Sydney, FY Smile is proud to offer a wide range of dental services. From basic tooth fillings to dental implants to deep cleanings and more, we’ve got you covered.

For more information about orthodontic treatment in Sydney or to get scheduled in our Double Bay dental clinic, feel free to give us a call anytime at 02 8319 5557

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