How Long Does It Take To Put Braces On? Is It Comfortable?

This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate BracesKnowHow.com earns from qualifying purchases.

Congratulations, you’re getting braces! I bet you’re looking forward to your bonding appointment. If you’re curious about how long everything takes, we’ve got you covered! Getting braces is easier than most people think, kind of like applying jewelry to your teeth.

You’ll notice your orthodontist going through a lot of steps and using a number of tools, and we’ll explain it all in this article, so let’s jump right in!

How long does it take to put braces on? exact timings

Bonding braces takes anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the method used and whether your orthodontist is bonding one or both arches. The procedure is comfortable and you won’t need to keep your mouth open the entire time.

If you’re sensitive to light, you might want to ask for protective glasses. Some patients also have temporomandibular joint issues and have a hard time keeping their mouths open for extended periods. If this is you, let your orthodontist know beforehand.

It’s best to be prepared, so let’s go over all the steps in detail:

1. Step one: polishing your teeth

Even if you’ve been to your dentist for a professional teeth cleaning, you’ll need to go through this step right before getting braces. Your orthodontist or an assistant will polish your teeth with prophy paste to remove any food residue or plaque.

Don’t worry, this is the first and last time you’ll ever see a rotating instrument during this appointment. So if you’re scared of the dentist, the following procedures are more relaxing.

Estimated duration: 5 minutes

2. Step Two: Drying and Prepping your teeth

Your orthodontist or ortho technician will prep your teeth so that they’re perfectly dry before bonding braces. This is a crucial step. Braces don’t stick to wet teeth, even the tiniest drop of saliva or water can make a bracket fall off. That’s often the reason why some brackets pop off the moment you bite into something.

Some orthodontists use cheek retractors to isolate your teeth, others just place cotton rolls and a saliva ejector. I personally prefer cheek retractors because they help keep the mouth open and allow the patient to relax.

Here’s an example of a cheek retractor:

Once the teeth are nice and isolated, your orthodontist will ‘paint’ the teeth with an adhesive called ‘bonding agent’. Some doctors also use a gel that’s sour-tasting when it’s washed away.

Estimated duration: 10 minutes

3. Step Three: placing the brackets

Most orthodontists will place brackets manually. Getting the position right from all angles requires a lot of focus, and some doctors really take their time to check everything before they put the curing light on.

Bonding the top and bottom teeth at once can take a long time. Some doctors like to do it separately and bond just one arch at a time. Any error at this stage, and your orthodontist will need to reposition the misplaced brackets.

The other option for placing braces is using a guide called an indirect bonding tray. This tray already has the brackets placed at ideal positions on a dental model, and all your doctor has to do is transfer them to your teeth.

Indirect bonding trays are a very fast, precise, and comfortable way of bonding braces. So if you’re doctor is offering them, you’ll spend even less time with your mouth wide open.

Estimated duration: 20 minutes for one arch, 40 minutes for both arches

4. Step four (optional): cementing bands on your molars

If you’ve had separators, or spacers, placed the week before, it’s time to take them out and place molar bands. Not all patients will need molar bands and not all doctors will use them.

These days, most orthodontists bond molar tubes that look similar to brackets, so there’s no extra step needed.

Placing molar bands can take a little while because they need to be fitted, removed, dried, and then cemented.

Estimated duration: 10 to 20 minutes

5. Step Five: Placing the archwire and choosing elastic colors

It’s finally time to close your mouth! Your ortho will take all the cotton rolls and retractors out and you’ll be able to rinse and rest for a little while. You can even admire your braces for the first time.

But we’re not done yet. Your orthodontist still needs to place the archwire. This soft initial wire is what will make your teeth loose so they can start shifting and straightening.

Measuring and cutting the wire can take a little while, but if you’re not careful, choosing an elastic tie color can take even longer. This is the fun part for all first-time patients, so most orthodontists will take their time and let their patients have a blast with all the color options.

Estimated duration: 10 to 20 minutes

6. Step Six (Optional): Adding Bite Turbos

Turbos, also known as bite ramps or bite blocks are pieces of composite stuck to the occlusal part of your molars. Their purpose is to open up the bite so you don’t bite down your brackets.

If you’re only getting top braces, chances are you won’t be needing bite turbos yet. Depending on their bite, some patients may never need turbos.

I like to place them at the end of the bonding session, but some doctors add them right after placing brackets. Either way, know to expect them if you’re getting both top and bottom braces.

Estimated duration: 10 minutes

7. Final touches

Once you’re done and out of the dental chair, your orthodontist might want to take pictures with you in braces. Many doctors like to document the progress of their cases, starting with the very first day in braces.

Lastly, your ortho should talk to you about brushing techniques and tools and teach you how to floss with braces. You’ll discuss what to do in case you’re in pain, or in case you have an emergency, like a poking wire or a broken bracket.

Estimated duration: 10 minutes

Does putting braces on hurt?

Lastly, let’s answer the question that’s on everyone’s mind when first getting braces. You’re about to spend one to two hours in the orthodontist’s office, so do any of the procedures braces hurt?

The quick answer is no, everything should feel quite comfortable, at least compared to a trip to the dentist. There’s no anesthesia involved, so no needles to worry about, and the only rotating instruments we use are polishing brushes.

However, if some of your teeth are sensitive to cold, you should know that we use the airspray quite often, and that can get uncomfortable.

Some patients complain about the cheek retractors digging into their cheeks and gums, and while we try to make it more manageable using cotton rolls, you may experience some discomfort. Cheek retractors are universal but they don’t fit every mouth shape perfectly.

The bonding procedure itself should be quite boring and not painful at all. You’ll only start to feel tension when the archwire is secured to your brackets, but it’s more like a dull tightness.

Unfortunately, most patients will experience pain with braces starting with a couple of hours after the appointment. This is mostly due to the wire and not the brackets themseleves. I’ve written a full article on this if you want to know what to expect.


There you have it, this is everything that goes on during the bonding appointment. As you can see, it’s quite a lot, and if you’re bonding both arches you can spend a while at the office. The good part is that it doesn’t hurt, so hopefully, you’ll be able to relax and connect with your orthodontist and their staff.

Whether you’re new to braces or a braces veteran, taking care of your teeth (and your health) during orthodontic treatment is crucial. That’s why I’ve put together a list of orthodontist-recommended tools that will make caring for your braces a breeze:

  • The only electric toothbrush you’ll ever need for your braces. Rotating electric brushes are much more effective, in my opinion, than sonic ones.
  • The most popular water flosser with my braces patients. If you can, choose a countertop model that can hold a lot of water. You’ll need it, and your gums will thank you.
  • This beast of a blender to create ice cold smoothies and silky soups. Sipping on something cold is a natural pain reliever, and soft foods are perfect for those tough weeks ahead.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *