A less well-known choice for fixing misaligned teeth is lingual braces. They have some advantages over the more popular options providing a better cosmetic solution for patients. They do have some disadvantages as well, though, and we take a look at the considerations which need to be be made before choosing lingual braces.
Lingual Braces. What are they?
With lingual braces you will still have wires and brackets in your mouth as you would expect, the big difference is that these wires can't be seen. Whereas normally, you would expect to see braces attached to the front of the teeth, lingual braces are hidden because they are fitted to the other side of the teeth.
How are Lingual Braces Fitted?
As you might imagine, fitting braces to the backs of teeth is a more difficult job for the orthodontist. There is less room to fit the braces and the placement is more awkward. To overcome these difficulties and provide a better fit, an impression is taken to create customized brackets, perfect for each individual's mouth.
The brackets are attached to the backs of the teeth at the same time, with the use of a tray to cement them in place. Normal braces don't require this level of customization, with standard brackets used and cemented to the teeth one at a time.
The Advantages of Lingual Braces
One of the main downsides to traditional braces is their visual appearance. The lingual option gives all the benefits of the more traditional design but without changing the appearance of the patient's smile.
If when the braces are removed there are any discolored marks left on the tooth enamel, they won't be seen anyway. Also, because the braces are customized to the patient's mouth they will often be more comfortable than braces fixed to the outside of the teeth.
The Downsides of Lingual Braces
Some patients with a significant overbite may be unsuitable for this type of braces. An overbite can put additional pressure on the braces, causing them to break away from the teeth.
With all types of braces, there is some potential for discomfort and it takes time to get used to them in your mouth. With the inside fitting of the braces, your tongue can become sore and this can affect your speech and eating. This problem will normally subside with use, however.
When making a decision on what braces to have fitted, it is important to consider what will work best for you. For example, some dietary choices, like sticky or crunchy foods, can get trapped in the braces and can be difficult to remove. Invisalign braces may be a better option if you believe this cleaning requirement is too much of a problem.
Due to the extra customization required with this type of braces, the costs are normally higher than more traditional choices. The amount of time that these braces need to be worn will vary depending on the patient's needs, but will normally be between one and two years. However, the length of time that these braces are worn will be similar to traditional options.
The Increasing Popularity of Lingual Braces
With the benefits of lingual over traditional braces, it isn't surprising that more patients are interested in this option. Some orthodontists will not be experienced in the lingual fitment of braces, however, and they will not be suitable for every patient. Check with your dentist to see what is the right choice for you.