Lingual braces have gained popularity in recent years as an alternative to traditional metal braces, offering an effective solution for those who want to straighten their teeth discreetly. These braces are mounted onto the backs of your teeth, the lingual area, making them virtually invisible to others. They work similarly to traditional braces, using brackets, wires, and elastics to correct teeth alignment and various bite problems.
Though lingual braces might seem like the perfect option for those wanting to keep their orthodontic treatment under wraps, there are a few factors to consider when choosing this method. One of the main drawbacks is the cost, as lingual braces can be notably more expensive than conventional metal braces. However, their customizable nature, increased comfort, and effectiveness in treating most bite issues make them an appealing choice for many patients.
As you explore the world of lingual braces, you will find essential information on their advantages, disadvantages, and what to expect during the treatment process. By understanding these factors, you’ll be better equipped to decide whether lingual braces are the right choice for your journey to a healthier smile.
- What Are Lingual Braces?
- Benefits of Lingual Braces
- Potential Challenges
- Candidacy for Lingual Braces
- Getting Your Lingual Braces
- Maintenance and Care
- The Treatment Process
- Life After Lingual Braces
What Are Lingual Braces?
Lingual braces are a type of orthodontic appliance designed to correct tooth and bite alignment issues while remaining hidden from view. As opposed to traditional braces, lingual braces are placed behind the teeth, by the tongue and palate, making them virtually invisible. This feature makes them popular among individuals who are self-conscious about the appearance of braces.
Similar to traditional metal braces, lingual braces work by applying gentle pressure to gradually move the teeth into the desired position. They consist of brackets, wires, and elastics, all of which are mounted on the back of the teeth. The treatment time for lingual braces can vary depending on the severity of the misalignment, but it usually ranges from 18 to 36 months.
Some advantages of lingual braces include:
- Virtual invisibility, making them ideal for adults and adolescents who want to maintain the aesthetics of their smile.
- Effective at correcting most bite problems.
- Customizable to increase your comfort and maximize their efficiency.
However, there are also some disadvantages to consider:
- Lingual braces can be more expensive than traditional braces due to their custom design and the need for specialized placement.
- They may cause initial discomfort and take some time to adjust, as they are in close proximity to the tongue.
- Lingual braces can affect speech, causing a temporary lisp until the patient becomes accustomed to them.
In summary, lingual braces offer an effective and discreet solution for those looking to straighten their teeth. By understanding their advantages and disadvantages, you can decide if they are the right choice for your orthodontic treatment.
Benefits of Lingual Braces
One of the main advantages of lingual braces is their discreet appearance. The brackets, wires, and elastic bands are all mounted on the back of your teeth, making them virtually invisible to others. This can be especially appealing to adults and teens who may be self-conscious about wearing traditional braces.
Lingual braces can be customized to fit the unique shape of your teeth, potentially increasing comfort during the treatment process. Although there may be an initial adjustment period as you get used to the braces, many people find them to be quite comfortable once they’ve adapted. Additionally, since lingual braces are fixed to the back of the teeth, they may not cause irritation to the lips and cheeks like traditional braces sometimes do.
With lingual braces, many of the typical challenges associated with maintaining oral hygiene are minimized. Since the braces are on the back of your teeth, brushing and flossing the front surfaces of your teeth is generally easier. Although cleaning around the brackets and wires can be a bit more challenging, there are specialized tools available, such as interdental brushes and water flossers, that can help maintain proper oral hygiene throughout the treatment process.
It is also important to note that lingual braces typically have fewer restrictions regarding food and drink compared to other orthodontic methods. While it is still essential to be mindful of consuming overly hard, sticky, or sugary foods, there is generally less concern with damaging or dislodging the braces when they are bonded to the back of your teeth.
Adjusting to lingual braces can be challenging for some patients. One of the main issues is tongue irritation, as it may take time for your tongue to get used to the braces. Sore spots can develop, and initial discomfort may be experienced during this period.
Moreover, there are certain food restrictions associated with lingual braces to ensure effective treatment. Foods to avoid include:
- Whole apples
- Beef jerky
- Raw carrots
- Corn on the cob
- Sticky candy
- Crusty bread
It is essential for patients to be aware of these restrictions and make necessary adjustments in their diet.
Another potential challenge with lingual braces is that they can interfere with tongue movement, which may cause speech issues while getting used to them. Some patients may experience lisping or difficulty pronouncing certain words, especially during the initial adjustment period. In most cases, these difficulties resolve as the patient adjusts to the braces.
Lingual braces tend to be more expensive than traditional metal braces. The cost of conventional metal braces ranges from $3,000 to $7,000, while lingual braces can cost as much as $10,000. The higher cost of lingual braces is due to the custom design and specialized placement required for their discreet positioning. It is important for patients to weigh the benefits of lingual braces’ discreetness against the potential financial implications before making a decision.
Candidacy for Lingual Braces
When considering orthodontic treatment options, it’s important to determine if you’re a suitable candidate for lingual braces. In this section, we’ll discuss age considerations and orthodontic issues that may impact an individual’s eligibility for lingual braces.
Lingual braces can be a great option for various age groups. However, there are certain considerations to keep in mind:
- Adults: Lingual braces can be a discreet and effective option for adults who want to straighten their teeth and improve their smiles without the noticeable appearance of traditional braces.
- Teenagers: In some cases, lingual braces might not be suitable for younger teens or children, as their teeth may still be developing. It’s essential to consult with an orthodontist to determine the best treatment option for this age group.
The type of orthodontic issues you have may also determine your eligibility for lingual braces. Some common problems that can be treated with lingual braces include:
- Mild to moderate crowding of teeth
- Spacing issues, such as gaps between teeth
- Alignment problems, such as overbites, underbites, and crossbites
While lingual braces can address a range of orthodontic issues, they might not be suitable for more severe or complex cases. In these situations, traditional braces or other orthodontic treatments may be more appropriate. As previously mentioned, consulting with an orthodontist will help you determine if lingual braces are right for your specific needs.
Getting Your Lingual Braces
Before getting lingual braces, you will need to schedule a consultation with an orthodontist. During this appointment, your orthodontist will evaluate your teeth and bite problems to determine if lingual braces would be a suitable treatment option for you. It’s essential to discuss any concerns or questions you have about lingual braces, and the orthodontist will explain the entire process, along with the costs and expectations during treatment.
Creating Custom Brackets
Once you decide to go ahead with lingual braces, your orthodontist will take impressions or digital scans of your teeth. These will be used to create custom brackets specifically designed to fit the back of your teeth, ensuring comfort and efficiency during the treatment process. Dentists use computer-aided design software (CAD) to fully customize these brackets for each patient, providing a more precise treatment plan.
Fitting and Adjustments
After your custom lingual braces are manufactured, you will return to the orthodontist for fitting. The brackets will be carefully bonded to the back of your teeth, and the wires and elastics will be attached to begin the process of gradually moving your teeth into the desired position.
You will need to visit your orthodontist every 6-8 weeks for adjustments and tightening of your lingual braces. These appointments are essential for keeping your treatment on track and ensuring the best possible results. Remember, treatment with lingual braces can take anywhere from 6 months to 3 years, depending on the complexity of your case.
During the treatment process, you may experience some discomfort, especially in the initial days after getting your braces or when adjustments are made. This is normal, and your orthodontist can recommend over-the-counter pain relief medication to help alleviate any discomfort.
In conclusion, getting lingual braces involves an orthodontist consultation, the creation of custom brackets, and regular fitting and adjustment appointments. By following your orthodontist’s recommendations and maintaining good oral hygiene, lingual braces can effectively correct most bite problems while remaining virtually invisible throughout the treatment process.
Maintenance and Care
Maintaining proper hygiene is essential when wearing lingual braces. As these braces are positioned close together, food particles can easily get stuck, making cleaning a bit challenging. Here are a few steps to ensure proper cleaning:
- Brush regularly: Brush your teeth at least twice a day using a soft-bristled toothbrush. Angle the brush to reach the areas around the braces and remember to clean the back of the teeth.
- Floss daily: Flossing helps to clean the spaces between your teeth and underneath the wires. Using a floss threader or an orthodontic flosser can make the process easier.
- Use a water flosser: A water flosser can help you reach areas that are difficult to clean with a toothbrush or floss. It uses a stream of water to remove food particles and plaque from around the braces.
- Rinse with mouthwash: Alcohol-free mouthwash can provide additional oral hygiene by killing bacteria and preventing bad breath.
- Regular dental cleanings: Visit your dentist for routine checkups and dental cleanings at least every six months to ensure optimal oral health during your alignment process.
While wearing lingual braces, it is important to pay attention to your food choices to prevent damage to your braces and ensure successful treatment. Here are some recommendations:
- Softer foods: Opt for soft, easy-to-chew foods such as pasta, steamed vegetables, soups, and smoothies.
- Avoid sticky, chewy, or hard foods: Foods like caramel, hard candies, and popcorn can damage your braces or stick to the wires, making cleaning a hassle.
- Cut foods into small pieces: Cutting fruits, vegetables, and meat into smaller pieces can reduce the pressure on your braces while eating.
- Limit sugary and acidic foods: Consuming excessive amounts of sugary or acidic foods and beverages can increase the risk of tooth decay, especially with braces on.
By following these guidelines for cleaning and choosing appropriate food choices, you can ensure the maintenance and care of your lingual braces throughout your treatment journey.
The Treatment Process
The process of getting lingual braces starts with a comprehensive exam, which may include X-rays, to determine the stability of your teeth and gums. If you’re cleared for braces, your dentist will get a detailed digital scan or a putty impression of your teeth to send to an orthodontist, who will collaborate with them on your treatment plan.
Putting braces on your teeth may take up to a couple of hours. The process involves:
- Applying a bonding agent (glue) to your teeth
- Adhering brackets to the bonding agent
- Connecting wire through the brackets
- Securing the wire with elastics
It’s important to note that the process of getting braces doesn’t hurt. However, it’s quite common to experience some discomfort once the braces are in place, as your teeth and mouth adjust to the new appliance.
After getting lingual braces, you will need to visit your orthodontist regularly for adjustments and check-ups. These visits typically occur every 4 to 6 weeks, depending on your orthodontist’s recommendations. During these appointments, your orthodontist may:
- Tighten or replace the wires
- Adjust your elastics
- Monitor your teeth’s progress and alignment
Regular visits are necessary to ensure your treatment stays on track and your teeth are moving properly. It’s essential to follow your orthodontist’s guidelines for oral hygiene, wearing elastics, and avoiding certain foods that can damage your braces. By adhering to these recommendations and staying consistent with follow-up appointments, your lingual braces treatment will be more effective and have a better outcome.
Life After Lingual Braces
Post-Treatment Orthodontic Retainers
Once your lingual braces treatment is completed, your dentist or orthodontist will instruct you to wear a retainer. This post-treatment phase is essential regardless of the type of braces you choose, including lingual braces. Retainers play a critical role in keeping your teeth in their new positions and allowing the bone that holds them to rebuild after the teeth have moved.
Most patients typically wear lingual braces for anywhere between 18 months to 3 years. The duration of your treatment plan will depend on your specific needs and the complexity of your case. After your braces are removed, you will need to visit your orthodontist every 6-8 weeks to have your braces tightened and adjusted.
Wearing a retainer is crucial for maintaining the results achieved during your braces treatment. There are different types of retainers available, such as removable and fixed retainers. Your orthodontist will recommend the most suitable type for you based on your specific requirements and preferences.
During the first few weeks or months after getting your lingual braces removed, you might experience some discomfort or a slight lisp. This is normal and will gradually subside. It’s essential to follow your orthodontist’s instructions and recommendations for caring for your retainer and maintaining optimal oral hygiene.
In summary, life after lingual braces mainly involves wearing a retainer to maintain your new smile and following your orthodontist’s instructions. By doing so, you can enjoy the long-lasting benefits of a straighter, healthier smile.