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Lingual braces work the same way as regular braces but are much less visible. This makes them a popular choice for adults and people who feel self-conscious about wearing braces.
When you think of braces, you may think of the visible metal brackets and wires on the outside of the teeth. Elastic bands hold the wire in place on the brackets. The wire applies gentle pressure to the teeth, moving them incrementally over 6 months to 3 years.1
Lingual, or invisible, braces are placed behind the teeth (lingual side) instead. For this reason, they’re sometimes called behind-the-teeth braces. Dentists can use computer-aided design software (CAD) to fully customize lingual brackets instead of placing premade brackets.
Like any orthodontic treatment, there are advantages and disadvantages of lingual braces:
Advantages of lingual braces include:
Lingual braces also have some potential drawbacks, including:
Lingual braces can take time to get used to. Your tongue may initially catch against the brackets. Your orthodontist can give you special wax to apply to the areas that rub against the soft tissues inside your mouth to minimize discomfort.
Like other braces, lingual orthodontics can cause a dull ache in the teeth as they begin to move the teeth. Over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can usually treat this pain.
Some people develop a lisp when they first start wearing lingual braces. This should resolve within a few days.
Because of the potential for speech issues, many dentists recommend scheduling the fitting before a weekend or during time off of work. This gives you time to practice talking with the newly installed braces.
Some studies suggest that getting used to talking with lingual braces can take up to a month. This is significantly longer than traditional metal braces, which can cause speech difficulties for a week.6
Other studies suggest that it also depends on the type of lingual braces an orthodontist uses.7 However, most dentists agree that the more you practice speaking, the quicker your lisp will resolve.
People who want straight teeth but don’t want to wear traditional metal braces might be good candidates for lingual braces. Most people who wear lingual braces opt for them because they don’t want metal braces to show when they smile.
Generally, lingual braces correct the same alignment issues as traditional metal braces. However, they’re not right for everyone. People with smaller teeth or severe malocclusion (bite misalignment) may not be good candidates.
The best way to find out if you’re a good candidate for lingual braces is to consult an orthodontist. Many orthodontists offer initial consultations at little to no cost.3
Lingual braces cost about $5,000 to $13,000 (nearly twice as much as traditional metal braces).10
Lingual brackets are custom-made, which makes them more expensive than pre-made brackets. Additionally, the orthodontists who install lingual braces must complete specialized training.
The cost of lingual braces varies depending on several factors, including:
Consult multiple orthodontists to find the best deal for your needs. Most offer payment plans, some without a down payment and/or interest.8
With your permission, your orthodontist can check your insurance plan for coverage. Some insurance policies include orthodontic coverage, but most will only cover a portion of the cost.
Some insurance companies only cover traditional braces and may make you pay the difference out of pocket. This is usually true if you opt for a more expensive treatment plan, like lingual braces.
Most dental insurance policies will cover some part of the cost of orthodontic treatment for children under 18 as long as the braces are considered medically necessary.
If you have either a flexible spending account (FSA) or a health savings account (HSA), you can use those funds for orthodontic treatment.9
Alternatively, you can ask your orthodontist about payment options. They may offer affordable monthly payments or discounts for people who pay in full.
Everyone has different orthodontic needs, and many different types of braces are available.
Conventional metal braces are the most common type. They’re also the most noticeable and tend to be the cheapest type.
They use brackets affixed to the front of the teeth, with a metal archwire running through them. Small rubber bands called elastic ligatures hold the archwire in place.
Like with lingual braces, orthodontists replace the archwire at regular visits. The archwire maneuvers the teeth into their proper placement.
Also called clear braces, the brackets of ceramic braces are made of tooth-colored ceramic material. Other than their appearance, they’re very similar to traditional braces.
Ceramic braces have brackets and wires, but the bands holding the wire in place are clear or white instead. This makes ceramic braces less obvious than traditional braces. They typically cost slightly more than traditional metal braces.
Clear aligners are removable appliances used to straighten teeth. They’re made of a plastic material that completely covers the teeth. Most people wear them all the time except when eating.
Invisalign is a popular brand of plastic aligners that are virtually undetectable. You get a new set of removable aligners about every two weeks.
Lingual braces, or invisible braces, are placed behind the teeth. This makes them less noticeable than traditional braces.
Like all types of braces, lingual braces have pros and cons. Lingual braces tend to be more expensive than other options. It can also be difficult to clean them.
They’re an excellent teeth-straightening choice for people who prefer to keep their braces subtle. However, lingual braces aren’t the best choice for everyone. Speak to an orthodontist to find out if they’re a good fit for you.
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