Lingual Braces Explained: What They Are & How They’re Different
About 4 million people in the US and Canada have chosen braces to straighten their teeth. This number includes several kinds of braces: traditional wire braces attached to the front of the teeth; Damon braces that are a type of self-ligating system of braces; Invisalign clear aligners that are the most discreet option of treatment; or lingual braces that are attached to the back of the teeth.
One thing is certain, invisible braces in particular have exploded in popularity. Lingual braces are a large part of that realm of treatment, often chosen by adults in professional positions and teens who are image conscious.
If you or someone you know is in the process of making a decision on orthodontic treatment, here is what you need to know about lingual braces. This will help you make a confident decision moving forward with your choice in treatment.
What Are Lingual Braces Exactly?
If you’ve never heard of them, you are not alone. Lingual braces are one of the lesser known types of orthodontic appliances available. These braces are similar to traditional metal braces in that individual brackets and an archwire are attached to the teeth to slowly reposition them and fix misalignments.
However, lingual braces are fixed onto the backside of the teeth, facing your tongue, rather than the front side, making them almost invisible. Because of this, these braces provide a much more discreet option for patients who are not willing to wear traditional braces for a lengthy amount of time. For this reason, they are gaining popularity in both children and adults.
The Pros & Cons of Lingual Braces
As with anything, there are both pros and cons to having lingual braces. Here are some of the the top advantages and disadvantages:
- They are invisible.
- They correct most bite problems.
- They are customizable for comfort and efficiency.
- They tend to be more expensive than traditional braces.
- They can give wearers a temporary lisp.
- The correction time may be longer than conventional braces.
- There is considerably more discomfort at first compared to other appliances.
From this list of pros and cons, lingual braces are a viable choice if you don’t want your braces to be the centerpiece of your mouth. But, they are more expensive and possibly more uncomfortable. The best step to take is to discuss options with our doctors here at Cook & Gutsche Orthodontics. We can help you in making the best choice!
Cost Comparison of Lingual Braces With Other Options
Of course, a treatment plan for any type of braces or orthodontic appliance varies in cost. This depends on several factors, including:
- Where you live.
- Insurance coverage, if you have dental insurance.
- The length of treatment.
- What type of braces/appliance you choose.
To begin with a general cost range, the American Association of Orthodontists says that lingual braces usually cost between $5,000 and $7,000. As a comparison, conventional metal braces usually cost between $3,000 and $7,350.
Of course, your individual cost will depend on the factors mentioned above, so discuss this with your dental team before making any decisions. There is also this helpful site that offers a dental cost calculator, showing up-to-date average pricing in your area for all areas of dental care.
Lingual braces are generally more expensive than other types because the process to have them put on the first time is more time-consuming and delicate. Lingual braces are also individualized for the patient. They are often robotically bent to fit the individual contours of your mouth; this is what makes the process more expensive.
Generally, your orthodontist will quote a price that covers everything that will be needed over the course of the treatment plan. This means monthly appointments are included and a retainer for use after the braces are removed.
There may be some additional costs. These could be the initial visit, X-rays, and replacement retainers. The best way to deal with this is to have a very open and honest discussion with your treatment team before the work begins.
Lisping With Lingual Braces
One of the disadvantages of lingual braces is something that concerns a lot of potential users of this type of orthodontia. Lingual braces can cause a slight lisp. It stands to reason it is an issue because lingual braces are often chosen so that others don’t know you are wearing braces. So, how bad is the lisp and is it permanent?
The lisp is caused by the brace on the back of each tooth providing a different “feel” for the tongue. And since the tongue touching the back of our teeth is necessary to make certain sounds, those sounds will be different.
All types of braces cause some speech differences, but the lingual braces seem to cause more of a problem. Your tongue does make adjustments and gets accustomed to the braces. The good news is that most patients hear a decrease in the lisp in about a month.
If this concerns you, though, discuss it with your orthodontist. Another type of orthodontic appliance might be a better choice for you.
Discomfort and Lingual Braces
Another disadvantage of lingual braces is the accompanying discomfort, which is reportedly more pronounced than other types of braces. Let’s begin with the knowledge that any kind of brace is going to generate some pain or discomfort for you. Your teeth are being forced to move in your jaw; it’s understandable the process won’t be pain-free.
Pain is probably not the right word anyway. It is more of a discomfort as the teeth move. This is a slow process, but it has been described as a dull ache that is relieved with OTC pain medication or your doctor can prescribe something. It’s best to eat soft foods, especially at the beginning of the process.
Patients who have lingual braces applied do report more discomfort. The brackets are in contact with your tongue and soft tissue of the mouth. To deal with this, the braces are now being made smaller and smoother to reduce the discomfort. In addition, you can try a topical pain relief gel for teeth. If your braces feel as if there is a sharp edge poking you, your orthodontist can clip wires to make them more comfortable and dental wax can help cover any points.
Whatever you do, don’t put up with pain because you don’t want to ask for help! Your orthodontist isn’t experiencing the braces in their mouth like you are. Tell the treatment team what is happening so they can assist you.
Make sure to also check out our article on how to make your first week in braces easier.
Lingual Braces Are a Viable Choice For Many Patients
Lingual braces hide behind your teeth so you can get your teeth straightened without a lot of publicity! Though, they do tend to be more expensive and the discomfort seems to be a bit greater at first. Making the decision will largely depend on what your priorities are in your treatment and what may be the best option for your mouth’s needs.
So, if you’re considering your options in orthodontic treatment, our expert team here at Cook & Gutsche Orthodontics in Springfield can help. Contact us today with any questions you may have and to set up a consultation.