When it comes to orthodontic treatment, today’s patients have more options than ever before. One of those options tends to be lesser known than some of the others, even though it is has practical and cosmetic advantages when compared to traditional braces or clear aligners. Mack Orthodontics is proud to offer lingual braces to patients who are looking to straighten their smile without anyone knowing! These braces are installed on the back of the teeth rather than the front, making them virtually invisible. Let’s take a look at how lingual braces work, who’s a good fit for them, and what factors should be considered before choosing them!
What are lingual braces?
In some ways, lingual braces are similar to traditional braces. Both attach brackets to the surface of the teeth and use wires and bands to slowly move them into more desirable positions. However, with lingual braces, the brackets are placed on the back of the teeth facing the tongue, rather than the front of the teeth. This makes them almost entirely invisible and a popular choice for image-conscious teens and adults.
How lingual braces work
Lingual braces are unique and not suited for everyone. They are slightly more complicated to place and maintain, and for this reason, we don’t tend to recommend them for more complex cases.
Before lingual braces are placed, the brackets are customized to fit each patient’s mouth perfectly, using an impression of the teeth. They are then placed onto each individual tooth with wires connecting them. These wires often require customization according to each patient’s specific needs.
Having the perfect fit from the start is essential when it comes to installing lingual braces since the brackets and wires are more challenging to place. Because the back of the teeth is harder to reach, there’s less room for even an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Mack to work with. In order to properly position the braces, we use a customized tray to cement all the brackets to the teeth at the same time. In contrast, traditional braces use standardized brackets that are placed one at a time on each individual tooth.
Once the lingual braces are placed, they work in much the same way as traditional braces do to gently move the teeth over time.
The pros and cons of lingual braces
The most obvious draw to lingual braces is how discreet they are. For many adult patients, wearing metal braces for months (or even years) is not ideal, especially in professional or social situations. Lingual braces have all the benefits of traditional braces but move the teeth without being obvious!
For mild to moderate cases of the most common orthodontic issues, lingual braces can be just as effective as other treatment options. As an added bonus, any discoloration that comes from wearing braces will be on the inside of the teeth instead of more visible on the outer surfaces. Because lingual braces are also custom-fit for every patient, they can provide a higher level of comfort once the patient gets used to them.
As we touched on above, lingual braces won’t be a good fit for everyone. For example, patients with extreme or deep overbite may find too much pressure is put on the brackets due to the bite, causing them to detach too easily. When you schedule a consultation with us, Dr. Mack will be able to tell if you are a good fit for lingual braces or not following a thorough examination.
Lingual braces can also cause some difficulties with speech, especially in the early days. Having braces on the backside of the teeth can take some getting used to! Patients may have a slight lisp until they become accustomed to the brackets, due to the contact the tongue makes with the back of the teeth when someone is speaking. This side effect will almost always disappear with time, however.
As with traditional braces, some temporary discomfort may occur, along with soreness. With lingual braces, this soreness is mostly felt on the tongue, particularly when eating or speaking. This pain and irritation will decrease the longer the braces are worn.
Could lingual braces be right for you?
As with any orthodontic option, you’ll need to consider your own personal preferences and what treatment method is likely to work best with your lifestyle. Lingual braces have food restrictions just like traditional braces, so you’ll need to avoid anything that’s hard, cruncy, or sticky during the treatment process. If food gets stuck in your braces, it can take extra effort to remove it and get the area really clean. Lingual braces also tend to be more expensive than traditional braces because they require such fastidious customization. Other braces have a more standardized fit, so you may find they are more affordable.
There’s no “one size fits all” answer for how long a patient will need to wear lingual braces. Somewhere around 12-24 months is common, though tougher cases may take more time to see results, which is comparable to traditional braces. Regular visits every few months will be necessary to perform adjustments and check that the orthodontic process is progressing on schedule.
Get a straighter, healthier smile with Mack Orthodontics
As an alternative to metal or ceramic braces, lingual braces can be effective at improving your oral health and giving you a straighter smile. If you’re in the Burlington, Hillsborough, or surrounding communities and want to learn more about how lingual braces could improve your smile, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with us. Dr. Mack will let you know if you’re a good fit for lingual braces, and if you aren’t, we have plenty of other treatment options for you to explore! Get in touch today to find out more.