For many people, linugal braces are the best of two worlds when it comes to orthodontic treatment. They force consistent wear (unlike removable aligners), but they are also nearly invisible when worn. Like any orthodontic treatment though, they have their pros and cons.
What are lingual braces?
In almost every way expect a key one, lingual braces are just like traditional braces. They’re made of metal brackets and wires that are bonded to the teeth, straightening them slowly over a period of months or years. They can treat all of the same types of malocclusion as well.
The game-changing difference is that they’re applied to the backs of the teeth, not the fronts. This hides them from view unless you open your mouth up wide.
For an "invisible" option, shouldn’t I just get Invisalign clear aligners?
Invisalign is a fantastic orthodontic treatment option in its own right, and is the ideal choice for many people. However, this depends on your personality and specific treatment needs. Lingual braces may be a better choice for you than Invisalign for a few important reasons.
First of all, Invisalign is most appropriate for milder types of misalignment. For anything particularly severe, treatment would take a very long time with Invisalign. Lingual braces can treat more severe malocclusion, while still providing a very low profile aesthetic.
Secondly, while the fact that invisalign aligners are removable is one of their benefits (because it makes eating, brushing and flossing easier), this quickly becomes a negative if you don't actually wear your aligners consistently and as prescribed by your orthodontist.
If you think you’re likely to give in to the temptation to take your aligners out when your teeth are sore, or that you'll forget to put them back in on a regular basis, then they may not be a good choice for you. You need to keep your aligners in your mouth almost full time: 22 hours a day minimum. Leaving your aligners out for longer than prescribed will inevitably result in treatment setbacks and damage to your teeth.
For both these reasons, lingual braces may be a better “invisible” option for for certain people.
Some Potential Cons
Lingual braces don't really provide any significant benefits over traditional braces in terms of efficacy of treatment. They will straighten your teeth in much the same way, and in the same amount of time.
Nonetheless, lingual braces can be a somewhat more expensive than traditional braces, depending in part on your insurance coverage.
You may experience some discomfort when wearing your lingual braces, particularly at first. While traditional braces can cause irritation to the lips, gums and cheeks, some lingual braces patients have complained of irritation to the tongue. Invisalign clear aligners don't really cause these types of problems, since they're constructed of a smooth plastic material.
Lingual braces can also be difficult to clean, since it’s a bit awkward to get in there at the backs of your teeth. This is particularly true when it comes to flossing. However, regular braces and Invisalign aligners can be tricky and time consuming to clean as well, so the difference here is negligible.
Finally, if you have lingual braces, your adjustment appointments may take somewhat longer than they would with traditional braces. Invisalign aligners don't need adjusting at all, but you do have to remember to switch out sets every two weeks.
Before deciding whether or not to go for lingual braces, it's important to carefully weigh the above pros and cons. After all, orthodontic treatment is a big commitment, so choosing the very best option for your needs and lifestyle is essential.