In the past, orthodontic treatment has always been associated with ‘train track’ metal braces. These days, however, there are a number of discrete orthodontic appliances that are barely noticeable when you smile, speak or eat.
A new study estimates that the invisible orthodontics global market, which was valued at $2.15 billion in 2017, is projected to gain $7.26 billion by 2026. As more people are opting for orthodontic treatment, more and more people are opting for almost invisible braces, like lingual braces, which are more aesthetically pleasing.
What Are Lingual Braces and How Do They Work?
Unlike traditional braces, lingual braces are attached to the back of your teeth, i.e. the area where your tongue rests against them. In fact, ‘lingual’ itself refers to the tongue and area that surrounds it!
These braces are perfect if you want to avoid noticeable wires or brackets since they are not visible unless your mouth is wide open. They’re the preferred choice of braces for adults who want to look professional at the workplace, teens concerned about ‘metal mouth’ and people who have a wedding or other big day coming up.
These appliances use the same kind of wire-and-bracket system as traditional braces, applying steady pressure to pull teeth into place. Your orthodontist may use standard or custom-made brackets, and braces need to be tightened and adjusted every 6-8 weeks.
Types of Lingual Braces
There are various types of lingual braces; the most common options include:
- Customized Lingual Braces
- Short-Term Lingual Braces
- Self-Ligating Lingual Braces
These are the most common form of lingual braces, which are custom-made to fit each tooth for greater comfort and control. These braces are designed to be as flat as possible and this precision helps increase the efficiency.
This option is available to patients who want to get their front teeth straightened for aesthetic reasons. These braces are fitted on the front six or eight teeth. In all other ways, they are the same as their conventional counterparts but need to be worn for a shorter duration of a few months.
With self-ligating lingual systems, the wires automatically adjust to gradual tooth movement and don’t need to be tightened by your orthodontist every few weeks. This makes the teeth straightening process more comfortable, especially for those with busy schedules.
Benefits of Lingual Braces Treatment
Here are some of the main advantages of lingual orthodontic appliances:
- Highly Discreet
- Greater Control
- Quick Results
Lingual dental braces are practically invisible because of their location. This is why they are such popular braces for teens and adults looking to avoid visible wires and brackets.
Lingual systems use the latest technology, with optical impression taking, computer-guided treatment planning and custom-made components that offer precise control.
In many cases, lingual brace systems provide faster results than conventional metal braces. They may also require fewer visits for adjustment and tightening.
While lingual braces have a host of benefits, there may be a few disadvantages too. Some of them are listed below:
- Anterior Teeth Intrusion
- Anterior Bite Plane Effect
- Vertical/Horizontal Bowing
Since these braces are located closer to a tooth’s center of resistance than conventional braces, they may cause slight intrusion of the upper anterior teeth.
With mandibular teeth continuously biting on upper brackets of the braces, the steady pressure on front incisors may cause posterior molars to extrude.
If the arch-wire doesn’t fill the slot fully, there may be some vertical and horizontal bowing effects or tipping tooth movements during space closure.
Cost of Lingual Braces
The self-ligating wires on lingual braces are customized to fit each patient, but it comes at a price. The estimated price by the American Association of Orthodontists for lingual braces is $5,000 between $7,000.
That said, as with all forms of orthodontic treatment, the cost of lingual braces may vary depending on the length of your treatment, your orthodontist, and if you have any insurance coverage.
Will Lingual Braces Give Me A Lisp?
Yes. Lingual braces have brackets that are on the back of your teeth. When you speak, your tongue touches the back of your teeth to make sounds. When you have lingual braces, these brackets might obstruct your tongue, causing you to lisp.
All types of orthodontic treatments interfere with your speech patterns, but it can take more time to get used to lingual braces because of the placement of the brackets.
Are You a Good Candidate for Lingual Braces?
- Bite Problem
- You Maintain Good Oral Hygiene Routine
- You Don’t Mind Speech Difficulties Initially
- You Can Follow Proper Diet
- The Price is Right
Lingual braces can be used to fix most bite problems, but they are not recommended for a deep overbite. Lingual braces for overbite can be a problem because the overbite puts too much pressure on the brackets. This can cause them to get loose or fall off easily. The orthodontist will make an evaluation and determine whether lingual braces will be a good fit for you or not based on your bite.
Since the braces are present on the back of your teeth, it can get tricky to brush and floss. It can get hard to clean the food particles and plaque stuck between the teeth and braces. Request the orthodontist to demonstrate the best way to clean your teeth while wearing lingual braces.
Just like any other braces or orthodontic treatment, there will be an adjustment period. Since lingual braces come between the tongue and the teeth, there will be some speech difficulties initially. The tongue gets restricted to produce sounds against the back of your teeth. However, it gets better as time passes and you will get adjusted to them without facing any speech difficulties.
Lingual braces are like traditional braces in one aspect – there will be dietary restrictions. For instance, you cannot eat sticky and hard foods as they can get stuck between the braces or break them. If you are not willing to make dietary changes, lingual braces may not be the right choice for you.
Consider lingual braces cost before opting for them. In some cases, they might be more expensive than other options, and in other cases, the cost may be less. Take a call based on how much it is costing you.
Lingual braces must be fitted by someone who has the right expertise. Not every orthodontist has the experience of the same. Therefore, you need to be sure that the orthodontist who is recommending the treatment has the experience as well as the expertise of fitting lingual braces.
Your orthodontist will check if your tooth surface is large enough for lingual brackets and then recommend the best treatment method for you.
On the whole, lingual braces offer many advantages over conventional orthodontic systems for those who don’t want obvious metal braces.
Dr. Brian Thurman has spent his entire life enjoying all the beauty that California has to offer. A Fresno native, he still escapes to the ocean or the mountains whenever his busy schedule allows. Driven by his love for natural beauty, Dr. Thurman enjoys creating beautiful smiles and healthy bites that last a lifetime. He is proud to be the only Ivy League trained Orthodontist in the Fresno/Clovis area.