Lingual braces are a great option for people who don’t like the look of traditional braces and don’t want to wear plastic invisible braces.
The question is, are they are right for you?
What Are Lingual Braces?
Lingual braces are essentially traditional braces reversed. The brackets, wires, and rubber bands are all mounted on the back side of the teeth. Sometimes they’re called “inside braces.”
Even though lingual braces are basically the opposite of regular braces, the two have many similarities.
Lingual Braces Process
Although lingual braces are not as common as regular braces, the technology used to apply them is very advanced and has many advantages. The process involves 3D printing, CAD/CAM manufacturing, and robots.
Each patient’s brackets are custom made, which is pretty special. Having braces that perfectly fit the shape of your teeth. Because it’s custom, each bracket needs only a thin layer of cement, meaning they won’t stick out from the tooth as much. Plus, if a bracket comes loose (which is rare), it’s much easier for the orthodontist to put it back in place.
The first step in the process of getting lingual braces is getting a very detailed impression of your teeth. This may happen with a tray full of putty, or the dental professional may scan your teeth with a machine that captures digital images of your mouth.
The dentist who took the impressions will send them along with a prescription to your orthodontist for review. The orthodontist and dentist will communicate the best course of action going forward for your treatment plan.
The next step is to create the braces. The orthodontic lab will create casts from the impressions and then a technician will create an image (called a “setup”) of what your teeth will look like post-treatment.
Once the setup is complete, it will get scanned into the computer and shared with the dentist, who will then review and approve it.
Once the setup design has been approved, the orthodontic lab will create the actual brackets, customizing them to each tooth. This process usually takes a couple weeks.
Next, the orthodontist will prepare your teeth so the bonding of the brackets is most effective. Then they’ll apply the cement.
Once that’s done, the orthodontist will then put the brackets into an applicator tray, which will fit perfectly over your teeth and hold the brackets in place while they’re bonded to your teeth. This typically happens about four weeks after the impressions were made.
After the cement has set, the orthodontist will break off the applicator tray, leaving just the brackets on your teeth. The custom-bent wires are then put in place.
Pros & Cons Of Lingual Braces
Although lingual braces seem like a great deal, they do have both pros and cons.
Let’s take a look at some the pros of lingual braces.
- They’re not visible to others: because they’re mounted on the back side of your teeth, no one can see them. You can smile as big as you like and no one will know you’re wearing braces.
- You get the benefit of professionally placed braces without the visibility of invisible aligners: products like ClearCorrect and Invisalign offer clear aligners that fit over your teeth. However, people can still see the plastic aligner.
- Precise alignment with a clear outcome: because lingual braces use digital imaging and other high-quality technology, you can be sure the placement of the brackets is precise and the alignment will be effective.
- Treatment takes shorter than clear aligners: studies have shown that lingual braces need less time than clear aligners to complete a case and give someone a straight smile.
To be completely objective, let’s take a look at the downsides of lingual braces.
- Can be uncomfortable to wear: it may take some time to get use to wearing lingual braces. Your tongue will most likely rub up against the brackets. This means your tongue may be persistently sore.
- Each treatment visit takes longer than it would for traditional braces: because everything is customized to the precise degree, the appointments for lingual braces may take longer than you’d expect.
- They’re expensive: lingual braces are about twice as expensive as traditional braces (more on that below).
Are You Candidate For Lingual Braces?
The only way to know for sure if you’re a good candidate for lingual braces is to visit your dentist or orthodontist. They can examine your teeth and tell you if it’s a good idea. But most people are good candidates for them.
However, there are a couple situations where extra consideration is require.
The first issue may be having a “deep bite,” which means there isn’t enough room in the mouth for backside braces. So if someone’s teeth overlap very much, the brackets of lingual braces could more easily get damaged or break off.
Another thing to consider is how good the results will be. At first, the results weren’t amazing. But the technology and techniques involved nowadays are showing much better results. It all comes down to the skill and expertise of the orthodontist.
Lingual Braces Cost
Although lingual braces have many similarities with traditional braces, they cost a lot more. They require more rare materials, more customization, and newer technology.
And for those reasons, lingual braces are about twice as expensive as regular braces, costing between $6,000 and $13,000.
One way you can save money on lingual braces is by getting them on just some of your teeth. For example, you could get lingual braces on just your upper teeth and then regular braces on your lower teeth (they’re more difficult for people to see when you smile).
Take Care Of Your Lingual Braces
Just as with traditional braces, lingual braces need regular cleanings and extra care.
Here are some tips on how to take care of your lingual braces:
- Keep up good oral hygiene habits: this includes brushing 2-3 times a day, flossing your teeth every day, and visiting the dentist and orthodontist on a regular basis. Doing these things will ensure the braces stay clean of bacteria and food debris.
- Protect your tongue: most likely, the brackets will irritate your tongue. So you should use the wax from your orthodontist to cover the brackets.
- Diet: it’s important to avoid chewy, sticky, and hard foods and candies. These things could wear down or even break your braces.
- Lingual braces are like traditional braces except they’re placed on the backside of your teeth. They are customized more than regular braces thanks to new technology and precise placement.
- The biggest advantage of lingual braces is that people cannot see them when you smile. The biggest downside is that they can more easily irritate the tongue.
- The best way to know if you’re a candidate for lingual braces is to speak with your dentist.
- Because lingual braces are very customized, they are about twice as expensive as traditional braces, between $6,000 and $13,000.
- Take care of your lingual braces by continuing to brush, floss, visit your dentist, and avoid sticky, hard, and chewy foods.