While it’s gratifying to be rewarded with a beautiful smile after undergoing orthodontic treatment, you might find wearing braces to be uncomfortable and inconvenient. That’s why it’s not uncommon for people to think braces are a drag and feel eager to have them removed after just a few appointments. But is it a good idea to remove your braces earlier than planned?
Removing your braces early can result in incomplete treatment and improper teeth positioning, leading to other dental issues and a higher chance that your teeth will relapse. Your braces should only be removed once the treatment is complete, as determined by your orthodontist.
The timeframe for braces treatment is one of the biggest concerns orthodontic patients have. Let’s get started and explore the most frequently asked questions regarding braces treatment and the potential to remove them early.
How Do Braces Work?
Braces work by putting pressure on your teeth and jaws to shift the positions of your teeth gradually. The brackets glued to your teeth hold the archwires in place, and the wire ensures forces can be placed on the teeth during treatment. Over time, the teeth shift their positions and maintain the desired alignment.
As the braces exert pressure on your teeth, they also stretch or compress the periodontal ligaments while moving your teeth. Periodontal ligaments is simply the scientific buzzword for the ligament that surrounds the tooth within the socket.
Let’s say a tooth moves to the right due to the pressure of the braces. The ligament on the right then compresses, the pressure causes the bone to the right of the tooth to breakdown, and new bone develops on the left to fill the space. This process continues in all directions until your teeth acquire and maintain the desired alignment.
As it turns out, your teeth won’t magically shift into their desired positions overnight — not even in a dozen days. It takes careful planning and a proper orthodontic treatment plan designed to fit each patient’s unique needs.
An orthodontist will usually give you a timeframe for your treatment plan, which has the step-by-step details of the process, including:
- The initial consultation
- When the braces treatment begins
- Regular checkups and adjustments
- Removal of the braces and fitting of a retainer
Like many patients, you’ll need to trust the experience and expertise of the orthodontist whose services you’ve settled on to get the best results.
You have to play your part as well, and that involves sticking to the specific care instructions you’re given, maintaining good dental hygiene, and avoiding hard or sticky foods that may damage the braces. It’s the only sure way to achieve a stunning smile within the ideal timeframe.
How Long Does It Take for Braces to Work?
On average, braces can take between one and a half to two years to work effectively in realigning your teeth. Ultimately, it all boils down to what’s happening in your mouth and how well you respond to the treatment. Like with any other treatment, your orthodontist will only remove your braces once your teeth are properly fixed and ready.
The duration of treatment with braces will depend on several factors like your age and the uniqueness of your problem. For example, dental experts recommend that people with severe issues like jaw misalignment should wear braces for a little bit longer than those with minor issues.
Generally, most orthodontic treatments only take about a year and a half to work. You may still have to wear braces for two years or slightly longer, depending on your dental condition. However, that shouldn’t make you balk at going for braces.
In some cases, limited or short-term treatment of a few months is also recommended. The length of treatment depends on the starting position of the teeth and how much movement is required over the course of treatment. Adults often have to put up with braces a little longer than children.
If there’s one thing you get from this guide, let it be that braces often take a considerable amount of time to fix your dental issues and give you a dazzling smile. For this reason, always ensure you go for the services of a qualified orthodontist.
Can Braces Be Removed Early?
While this may smash your hopes, the simple answer is no. Orthodontic treatment takes time, and your teeth can only shift positions and become properly aligned gradually. Until then, your orthodontist can’t declare the treatment complete.
Almost all orthodontic patients start their treatment process with excitement and enthusiasm, only to get jumpy midway and look forward to removing the braces early.
Many patients report that it’s only the front teeth they want to fix. And with conventional braces, the front teeth can get fixed incredibly fast, sometimes in just a couple of months.
If that’s the case for you, you might wonder why you need to wait 18 months or longer. However, you can’t have your orthodontist remove the braces early because they have to reposition all your teeth — not just the front ones!
Dental experts say your teeth must maintain an even bite at the sides, all gaps must be closed, and all your teeth must come to the correct angulation. While these issues may not be noticeable or even be of concern to you, they’re extremely important to get right, so that you obtain impressive results.
Some teeth are also dogged and a lot more difficult to correct than others. So, if you initially had extremely crooked teeth or a severe overbite, you’ll likely have to put up with braces longer than someone with minor issues.
Moreover, repeated breakages of your braces or multiple missed appointments could make your treatment take longer than usual. That said, if you maintain good oral hygiene and take care of your braces properly, you’ll get good results within the anticipated time frame.
It doesn’t hurt, therefore, to take proper care and just wait, as it’s your best bet that your teeth will look nicer and maintain their alignment in the long term.
What if My Braces Are Causing Issues?
If you’re running into challenges like repeated rubber band breakages, hygiene issues, or tooth sensitivity, your oral care therapist should support you as much as possible. They’ll often stop the braces treatment and switch to more modern, equally effective alternatives.
A good orthodontist wants to check their patients’ progress and watch them finish their treatment to the end. It’s only fair then that they help you get on top of any problems as soon as possible — it’s your health, after all!
Patients who insist on having their braces removed early usually go back to the orthodontist a few months or even years later desperate for a more ideal result. While this is possible, it’s pretty much like starting from scratch.
Repeated braces treatments aren’t uncommon, but special care needs to be given to the bone when moving the teeth multiple times. Proper hygiene is key to protect the teeth.
If, for whatever reason, your braces have been removed early, you can ask your orthodontist for a set of retainers to keep the teeth where they are up to this point. And if you just need a little help to try and stick it out, remember some products like Dental Wax (on Amazon) are designed to help you stick it out.
What Happens If You Take Braces Off Early?
If you insist on removing your braces early, please note that this decision has many caveats. First off, there are high chances the incomplete treatment will cause your teeth to revert to their original positions or even become more misaligned.
This can birth a whole new set of dental problems! On top of that, you’ll have wasted your precious time and hard-earned bucks.
Unsurprisingly, many people also think you can remove the top braces as soon as your upper teeth align. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Remember, the top and bottom braces must work together to fix your tooth alignment and correct your bite.
Getting your top braces off first doesn’t make any practical sense from a dental expert’s perspective because orthodontic treatment should be a whole-mouth process. Plus, it involves your jaws and gums, not just one set of teeth.
While it’s natural to yearn for magical tips that’ll speed up your treatment process, all you can do is take proper care to ensure the treatment doesn’t face any slowdowns.
Please be patient, stick to a proper oral care routine, and don’t miss appointments for the orthodontist to check your progress.
How Do Braces Get Taken Off?
Removing braces is a lot simpler and quicker than applying them, and the full procedure might take only about an hour. While you may feel a little uncomfortable, the removal process shouldn’t hurt at all.
You’ll only have to put up with light pressure as your orthodontist takes off each bracket or as they remove leftover glue while polishing your tooth enamel.
Here’s an outline of the steps for taking off braces:
- First, your orthodontist will carefully detach the braces from your teeth, often with the archwires still intact. They do this by lightly squeezing the bottom of each bracket with specially-designed pliers. The action severs the adhesive binding the brackets to the surface of your teeth.
- After detaching all the brackets, they take off the braces and remove the remaining glue from your teeth with a special polishing tool. At this point, expect to feel some vibrations, and it’s only for about 15 minutes.
- Once the orthodontist has cleaned your teeth thoroughly, they’ll take a digital scan or a custom mold of your teeth. This helps them develop a retainer that will fit your teeth precisely. The retainer can be fixed or removable, and it’s meant to keep the position of your teeth.
- During the retainer appointment, your oral health therapist will give you a comprehensive care plan showing you how often you’ll need to wear the retainer. Sticking to their prescription is important if you want to keep your teeth straightened in the long term.