The process of applying metal or ceramic orthodontic braces takes between one and two hours for most patients, according to Oral-B. Clear aligner braces require no time to apply to the teeth once they are made, since they snap into place with no adhesive, notes Drs. Edstrom & Trigonis.
The first step to applying orthodontic braces is to clean and dry the patient's teeth, explains Oral-B. Then, the orthodontist uses bonding glue to secure a metal or ceramic bracket to each tooth. The orthodontist then inserts archwire, which places consistent pressure on the teeth to guide them into alignment, through the brackets. Lastly, the dentist applies elastic bands to keep the top and bottom archwires in place.
Although clear aligner braces, such as the Invisalign system, do not have to be glued to the teeth, some Invisalign patients need to spend some time in the dentist's or orthodontist's chair to receive interproximal reduction or attachments, explains MCO Orthodontics. Interproximal reduction involves drilling away small amounts of tooth enamel between teeth to make room for the teeth to shift. The process removes about 0.2 to 0.6 millimeters of tooth surface at a time and does not usually cause tooth problems or pain. Attachments are tiny pieces of tooth-colored filling material that the dentist or orthodontist bonds to certain teeth to help the teeth move in the appropriate way, notes MCO Orthodontics.