Updated on February 7, 2024
6 min read

Lingual Braces: Pros, Cons, Costs and Comparisons

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What are Lingual Braces?

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.

dentist examining patient with mirror

Pros and Cons of Lingual Braces

Like any orthodontic treatment, there are advantages and disadvantages of lingual braces:

Pros

Advantages of lingual braces include:

  • Nearly invisible, as they’re fixed to the back of your teeth
  • Effective treatment for most orthodontic issues
  • Can be customized to your specific needs
  • Potentially less painful than other braces
  • No limitations on playing sports or wind instruments

Cons

Lingual braces also have some potential drawbacks, including:

  • Treatment time may be longer than traditional braces
  • Can cause a lisp for longer than conventional braces
  • Typically more expensive than other types of braces
  • Not offered by every orthodontist, so may be more difficult to find a provider
  • Cleaning can be difficult, as the brackets are closer together than traditional metal braces

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Are Lingual Braces Comfortable?

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.

Do Lingual Braces Give You a Lisp?

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.

Who is a Good Candidate for Lingual Braces?

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

How Much Do Lingual Braces Cost?

Lingual braces cost about $5,000 to $13,000 (nearly twice as much as traditional metal braces).10 

Closeup shot of lingual braces

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:

  • Where you live
  • Your orthodontist’s expertise
  • Insurance coverage, if and when applicable
  • Treatment duration 

Consult multiple orthodontists to find the best deal for your needs. Most offer payment plans, some without a down payment and/or interest.8 

Are Lingual Braces Covered by Insurance?

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.

Other Ways to Pay for Lingual Braces

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.

Lingual Braces vs. Other Treatment Options 

Everyone has different orthodontic needs, and many different types of braces are available.

Traditional Metal Braces

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. 

Ceramic Braces

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 Plastic Aligners

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.

Summary

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.

Last updated on February 7, 2024
10 Sources Cited
Last updated on February 7, 2024
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Braces.” American Dental Association, 2023.
  2. Frequently Asked Questions.” American Association of Orthodontists, n.d.
  3. The initial consultation.” American Association of Orthodontists, n.d.
  4. Auluck, A. “Lingual orthodontic treatment: what is the current evidence base?” Journal of Orthodontics, 2013.
  5. Moresca, R. “Orthodontic treatment time: can it be shortened?” Dental Press Journal of Orthodontics, 2018.
  6. Rai, AK, et al. “Comparison of speech performance in labial and lingual orthodontic patients: A prospective study.” Dental Research Journal, 2014.
  7. Haj-Younis, S, et al. “A comparison between two lingual orthodontic brackets in terms of speech performance and patients’ acceptance in correcting Class II, Division 1 malocclusion: a randomized controlled trial.” Dental Press Journal of Orthodontics, 2016.
  8. Do Orthodontists Offer Payment Plans?” American Association of Orthodontists, n.d.
  9. Paying for treatment.” American Association of Orthodontists, n.d.
  10. Braces Cost.” CostHelper Health, 2023.
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