How long do children wear braces for?

One of the most common questions asked by parents is how long orthodontic treatment will take. The answer is more complicated than you’d think! Every case is individual and depends on a few different variables. In this article, we will demystify braces for children and explain some of the factors that influence how long braces are required for.

At Highgate Hill Dental Centre, we are lucky enough to have a few resident orthodontic enthusiasts. Dr’s Bill Morris, Aoibheann O’Brien and Kathleen Ling have a special interest in orthodontics for children and have been helping patients with their orthodontic woes for many years now. Our dentists are familiar with several appliances, including both band and bracket style braces and clear aligner systems. While we manage a wide range of orthodontic issues at Highgate Hill Dental Centre, we also refer more complex cases out to specialist orthodontists.

What do braces do?

There are many reasons why your dentist may recommend braces for kids. Common orthodontic conditions include crooked or crowded teeth, overbite or underbite, jaw disorders, and other misalignment problems. Orthodontic treatment may be for cosmetic reasons, functional reasons, or both.

Braces are a tool used by dentists and orthodontists to gradually move misaligned teeth. Braces and alignment devices allow dentists to apply gentle traction, tension and pressure to slowly and carefully move teeth.  

Do braces hurt?

As orthodontics involves moving teeth, a small amount of discomfort is to be expected. People sometimes describe their teeth as feeling a bit tender, usually in the period after adjustments are made. This tends to subside after a couple of days as your teeth get used to their new positions and the forces acting on them. Orthodontics is normally well tolerated by everyone – even kids!

What determines how long you need braces for?

When considering treatment with braces, your dentist will often be able to give you an estimate of how long they will be required for. This time frame will always be a guide and can change depending on several variables.

We don’t mean to brag, but orthodontic assessments can be pretty fun at Highgate Hill Dental Centre!
Types of braces:

The type of braces or aligners used to move your child’s teeth can play a big role in determining the treatment time. Depending on the treatment goal, different alignment systems may have different recommended treatment times. Keep in mind that although some forms of braces show quicker results than others, different orthodontic systems are suitable for different purposes and different people. Your dentist will be able to guide you through the options available for your child.

One of many orthodontic options is a clear aligner system.
Treatment goal:

Treatment goals with braces vary widely, from simple correction of a troublesome tooth to correcting a severe over or under bite. As movements must be performed slowly and precisely, the degree of movement required to achieve the desired result has a large impact on the duration of treatment. The more adjustment that is required, the longer the orthodontic treatment will take.


The introduction of braces or aligners into the mouth can create an environment in which bacteria thrive. Braces make the teeth themselves difficult to keep clean and offer bacteria extra areas on which to attach and proliferate. It’s like a theme park for them! Care should be taken to avoid overly hard or sticky foods like pork crackling, Minties, and Gobstoppers as these can damage braces. Any damage to the aligners or braces themselves will set timelines back as repairs will have to be made and teeth can begin to shift back to their natural positions.

These are just a few of the factors that could influence the duration of braces treatment. Sometimes it all comes down to a bit of luck in the end. If you’re wondering how long your child may need braces, or even if they need them at all, it’s best to chat to your local dentist or orthodontist. Highgate Hill Dental Centre is happy to answer any of your orthodontic queries, simply give us a call or come in and see us. Happy brushing and flossing and we’ll see you at your next check up!