What Are Lingual Braces?

November 3, 2022
Dr. Joe Xanthopoulos

For many people with orthodontic issues, one key barrier prevents them from seeking treatment: they don’t like the look of metal braces.

While some people receive braces in their teen years, many undergo treatment as adults.

For many prospective patients, wearing visible braces for one to three years is off-putting, so they may choose to forgo treatment altogether.

However, thanks to advancements in orthodontics and dentistry, there is now a range of near-invisible options available for those seeking teeth-straightening treatment.

While clear aligners are gaining popularity, they are usually not suitable for complex misalignment issues.

On the other hand, lingual braces are an effective and discreet option.

So, what are lingual braces? Let’s take a look.

What Are Lingual Braces?

Lingual braces — also known as ‘inside’ braces — are an alternative teeth-straightening treatment to traditional metal braces.

They are particularly popular with adults and professionals, as they are practically invisible. The brackets and wires are attached to the back side of the teeth rather than the front-facing side, so they cannot be seen when you smile.

In many cases, lingual braces will be custom-made for your teeth. Your dentist will make a digital scan or impression of your teeth, which will then be used to create customised wires and brackets that fit along the inside of your teeth.

The lingual braces will apply pressure to your teeth and, over time, will move them into the right position.

What Are Lingual Braces Used For?

Lingual braces are used to help correct problems such as crowding, misalignment, or crooked teeth.

While Invisalign trays can be used for minor orthodontic concerns, most people will require braces to correct mild to severe dental problems effectively.

As they are invisible and customised to increase comfort and efficiency, lingual braces are typically used by patients who are concerned about the look and feel of traditional braces.

Can Anyone Get Lingual Braces?

The only way to know for sure if you are eligible for lingual braces is to talk to your dentist. They will be able to examine you, discuss your concerns, and let you know if lingual braces are right for you.

Generally, lingual braces generally correct the same alignment issues as conventional braces.

For some people, lingual braces are the most suitable option. For example, if you play a wind instrument or a sport, lingual braces may be a better option for you.

However, they will not be right for everyone.

If you have a very deep overbite, you may experience issues with the upper brackets popping off due to contact with your bottom teeth.

Your teeth also need to be long enough for the braces to bond to the back of the teeth. For this reason, lingual braces are typically not advised for children or people with small teeth.

During your initial consultation, your dentist will examine your teeth and discuss which treatment option will be best for you.

Are Lingual Braces as Effective as Traditional Braces?

Yes, lingual braces are as effective as traditional braces for treating alignment issues.

However, there are a few differences to be aware of.

Orthodontists must undergo special training to be able to apply lingual braces, so some practices won’t offer the treatment at all. You will need to find a dental practice that does perform lingual braces treatment.

At Kew Dentistry, we proudly provide a lingual braces service.

It’s important to note that lingual braces can affect your speech at the beginning. We’ll explore this further below.

Lingual braces are typically more expensive than traditional braces and are also more difficult to clean, as the brackets are positioned closer together.

Now, what are the advantages of lingual braces?

There are advantages that set lingual braces apart from traditional ones, too. Some consider lingual braces more effective for these reasons.

The first advantage is an obvious one: they’re invisible. If you don’t want people to know you’re undergoing teeth-straightening treatment, lingual braces are a great option. They won’t be visible unless you open your mouth very wide.

Lingual braces require fewer lifestyle changes than traditional braces.

As mentioned, lingual braces are ideal if you play sports or wind instruments. With conventional braces, you may have to change the way you play your wind instrument or use mouth protection while playing sports.

The customisable design of lingual braces is another advantage. As your braces can be customised to your teeth, you’re likely to experience less discomfort and fewer chewing problems than you would with traditional braces.

Are Lingual Braces Faster Than Other Forms?

As with all dental treatments, the time frame will vary from person to person. However, on average, lingual braces take the same amount of time to work as traditional braces.

How Long Do Lingual Braces Take to Work?

You will typically need to wear your lingual braces for 18 to 36 months to correct complex dental issues.

Can Lingual Braces Affect Overbite?

Lingual braces can be worn to treat an overbite, however, if the overbite is too severe, they may not be right for you.

An overbite occurs when the top jaw and teeth overlap the lower jaw and teeth. This is also known as malocclusion.

Lingual braces can apply pressure to the upper teeth to move them into place.

However, as mentioned, people with severe overbites may need traditional braces, as a severe overbite may dislodge lingual braces from the back of the upper teeth.

Do Lingual Braces Affect Speech?

Yes, lingual braces can affect your speech when they are first applied.

When you speak, your tongue touches the back of the teeth to make certain sounds. When brackets and wires are on the back of your teeth, your speech can be temporarily affected.

The degree of your speech impairment will likely depend on which types of brackets are used.

In time (typically a few weeks), your tongue will get used to the lingual braces, and your speech will return to normal.

What Can You Eat with Lingual Braces?

As with traditional braces, there will be some restrictions to the foods you can eat while undergoing lingual braces treatment.

You’ll need to take extra care when eating anything hard or chewy, as these foods have the potential to bend or dislodge your wire. Avoid foods such as

  • Hard rolls
  • Liquorice
  • Chewing gum
  • Caramel
  • Chips
  • Popcorn
  • Lollies
  • Apples
  • Raw carrots
  • Corn on the cob

Where you can, opt for low-sugar foods that don’t require excessive chewing. Think soft bread, pancakes, rice, potatoes, and steamed vegetables.

Are Lingual Braces Painful?

All braces can be uncomfortable when first attached or adjusted. This is very common and can be alleviated with over-the-counter medication and orthodontic wax.

After your first few adjustments, you shouldn’t feel significant discomfort.

How Much Are Lingual Braces?

What costs can you expect from your lingual braces treatment?

Lingual braces usually cost more than traditional ones, because as mentioned previously, lingual braces are a custom solution requiring additional laboratory work.

The cost will vary depending on the length of the treatment, where you live, your insurance coverage, and what kind of lingual braces you choose.

Lingual braces require more frequent and longer adjustments than traditional braces, which also contributes to the higher price point.

Prices vary from clinic to clinic, but lingual braces typically cost between $9,500 and $15,000 for an 18 to 24-month treatment.

Shorter treatments that only involve a few teeth may carry a significantly lower price, while complicated treatments may be costlier.

Are Lingual Braces Covered By Insurance?

Some health insurers will cover part of your orthodontic treatment, whether you opt for traditional or lingual braces.

However, this will depend on your level of coverage. You will need to check your policy and see what’s included before heading in for an appointment with your dentist.

Lingual Braces at Kew Dentistry

If you’re seeking a subtle and discreet solution to misaligned teeth, lingual braces may be right for you.

Now that you know what lingual braces are and how they work, you and your dentist can make an informed decision about your treatment plan.

Eligibility, costs, and length of treatment will vary depending on your unique situation.

At Kew Dentistry, our expert dentists are ready to chat with you about your teeth-straightening options.

Many patients have had success with our lingual braces service, while others have opted for Invisalign as an alternative discreet straightening method.

Ready to start on your journey to a healthier, straighter smile? We’re here to help! You can request an appointment with us today.

If you want to learn more about what lingual braces are, you can contact us here.