You have decided that you have put up with your crooked, crowded teeth long enough. Your dentist and orthodontist are on your treatment team and ready to get started! The next important task is sorting through the choices of braces available. You are clear on traditional metal, ceramic, or porcelain braces, and Invisalign aligners. But what are lingual braces?
In this article, we will explain what lingual braces are, how they work, their advantages and disadvantages, and more!
What are Lingual Braces?
It may not be a word we use often but the word “lingual” simply means “lying near or next to the tongue.” Lingual braces, then, refer to braces that are on the side facing the tongue on the back of the teeth.
Rather than having highly visible metal brackets and wires facing outward for everyone to see, these braces are invisible because they are attached to the back of the teeth out of sight. These braces are perfect for those who are self-conscious about having braces at all. Many teen and adult patients choose them for this reason. Here are other reasons to consider lingual braces:
- You want to maintain a professional, brace-free look.
- You play a musical instrument that traditional braces would make difficult.
- You engage in contact sports.
These braces work well for correcting dental crowding, crossbites, and underbites, but lingual braces aren’t suitable for everyone. People with normal-sized teeth are the best candidates, which is why children aren’t usually candidates. Their primary teeth are too small and won’t accommodate these braces.
Another group is people with an excessive overbite problem because this particular bite can put pressure on the brackets. The brackets can come loose or break off on the inside of the teeth.
Discuss these issues with your orthodontist. They will advise you on the best type of braces for you.
Now that you know what lingual braces are, let’s find out how they work.
How Do Lingual Braces Work?
The process isn’t much different than traditional metal braces. An impression will be made of your teeth or 3D imaging will be taken and your treatment plan will be confirmed. The metal braces brackets are then cemented into place on the back of your teeth.
Wires connect the brackets and as they are tightened over time this allows gentle, continuous pressure to be applied. Your teeth respond to this pressure by slowly shifting into the desired, straightened positions.
A treatment plan for these braces lasts approximately 18-36 months, depending on how much the teeth need to be moved.
Wondering if they are the right choice for you? Read on to learn the pros and cons.
The Pros and Cons of Lingual Braces
Lingual braces are growing in popularity so let’s take a look at their pros and cons compared to traditional braces or aligners so you can decide if they are best for you, too.
Advantages of Lingual Braces:
- They are invisible, even more so than clear aligners.
- They are highly efficient at correcting overbites and crossbites as well as closing spaces between teeth.
- The size and shape of the brackets and wires can be adjusted for maximum comfort in your mouth.
- They are less likely to interfere with playing sports or musical instruments.
Disadvantages of Lingual Braces:
- The adjustment period is sometimes longer.
- They can result in a lisp.
- They are harder to keep clean and free of food particles than traditional braces.
- They are usually more expensive than other kind of braces.
- Difficulty eating may last longer than with traditional braces.
- Fewer orthodontists are trained in the use of lingual braces.
- Lingual braces usually require longer office visits.
Your choice may depend on your personal preferences regarding convenience. Lingual braces, like any other attached braces, won’t get lost and they are not removed until your treatment is over. Clear aligners, on the other hand, are removed to eat, brush, floss, and to be cleaned. For this reason, aligners are sometimes lost or damaged while out of your mouth.
How To Care For Lingual Braces
An effective daily oral hygiene routine is critical, whether you have braces or not. Braces can indeed make the routine more challenging but not impossible. Braces’ wires and brackets can trap food so make sure you are brushing twice a day and flossing daily.
You may shy away from the routine immediately after getting braces, since your mouth may be sore for a day or so. The soreness will disappear quickly, and it’s important to keep properly cleaning your teeth and gums.
The biggest difficulty with lingual braces is their location on the back of the teeth. This makes brushing and flossing a little more difficult. Use a toothbrush with a narrow tip for the best results. Any food left in the mouth turns to bacteria and a build-up of plaque and tartar, so it’s worth the extra effort to eliminate any bits of food.
Lingual Braces May Be the Right Choice For You!
As you make decisions about the type of braces that will be best for you, lingual braces have some great advantages that you should consider. Since they are attached to the back of your teeth, most people won’t know you are wearing them. This may be important to you for aesthetic reasons and it is why many adults use them.
They do have some disadvantages to keep in mind, such as a higher price tag and sometimes a longer treatment plan.
Here at White Plains Orthodontics, we specialize in treatment with a variety of orthodontic appliances, including lingual braces. We are ready to partner with you as you work to create the beautiful smile you have always wanted (and deserve!).
Contact our office today to schedule an appointment!