Lingual braces, often referred to as “invisible braces”, are braces placed on the back surfaces (lingual, tongue side) of the teeth. They are virtually undetectable, even from close-up. People who desire a beautiful smile without showing a mouthful of metal may prefer lingual braces. Lingual braces are also easier to adapt for those who play sports or wind instruments. Both lingual braces and traditional braces perform the same job straightening teeth. However, unlike traditional braces, lingual braces are custom-made to fit each tooth. At the first appointment for lingual braces, your orthodontist will take an impression of your teeth. This impression will then be sent to a dental laboratory where your customized brackets are created using CAD/CAM and rapid prototyping technologies. Wires are created and bent using robotic technology. This process takes about six weeks. Once complete, your dentist will use a precise process to cement your lingual braces onto your teeth.
Advantages of Lingual Braces
The biggest advantage to lingual braces is aesthetic. If you have a job that won’t allow you to wear braces or you don’t want anyone to know you have braces, lingual braces may be the best option. Lingual braces are more efficient than clear aligners for complex corrections like closing extraction spaces and changing the heights of teeth. Clear braces may be tooth colored, but the wire is still metal, and visible. Additionally, even if oral care is not ideal, any discoloration that occurs will be on the back sides of the teeth where they cannot be seen.
Disadvantages of Lingual Braces
- Speech Difficulty: It takes a couple of weeks to get used to having braces next to your tongue. For the first few weeks the braces will make normal speaking a challenge as your tongue gets used to the new hardware in its space. The brackets and wires will feel a little rough initially and they may affect your speech for a few weeks.
- Tongue Soreness: Because your tongue comes into contact with your braces while eating, speaking, and even at rest, your tongue may be sore until it finds its new space in your mouth.
- Eating: Having lingual braces may make eating more difficult. Some foods will tend to get trapped in them. Others might even damage them.
- Cleaning: You have to be even more diligent with brushing and flossing, because the placement of lingual braces makes it harder to check whether you have brushed all the food away from your teeth.
Are Lingual Braces Right for You?
Some people will not be candidates for lingual braces, such as those with small teeth or excessive bite problems. Your dentist will be able to make that decision for you. Treatment time for lingual braces may be longer than that for traditional braces because of the shorter distances between teeth. Because of the position of lingual braces, each adjustment may take longer as well. Longer treatment times, more difficult adjustments, and higher appliance costs mean that prices for lingual braces are generally more than those for traditional braces.