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What are lingual braces?
Lingual braces are a treatment where the braces are positioned on the inside of the teeth. This treatment method is used to so the braces are less noticeable and to protect the lips and cheeks of patients.
What are the advantages of lingual braces?
The main advantage of lingual braces is that they aren’t visible. Lingual braces are considered to be the least visible option and often allows your dentist more control over tooth movement.
Lingual braces are also ideal for those who engage in marital arts or other high contact activities to protect the cheeks and lips from damage.
Who can get lingual braces?
The best way to figure out if you are suitable for lingual braces is to have a consultation with an orthodontist, however most adolescents and adults are suitable candidates.
Can people see lingual braces or are they invisible?
Lingual braces are mostly invisible, but people may be able to catch glimpses of them, especially if placed on the bottom teeth. These braces are not as noticeable as many other types of braces and dental appliances.
Lingual braces are not uncomfortable to wear, but generally take some time to get used to. Some problems people encounter include:
- Speech difficulties
- Tongue soreness
- Difficulty eating
- Difficulty cleaning teeth
For the first few weeks after your lingual braces are put on, you may experience some irritation or soreness on your tongue. This occurs because your braces and tongue will be in constant contact and may rub against one another while speaking. Over time your tongue should adapt.
Having lingual braces can make eating more difficult and certain food will tend to get trapped in them. Certain foods can damage the braces. Cutting food into smaller pieces and avoiding hard, sticky and chewy foods can help prevent damage occurring.
Foods that may get stuck in or damage lingual braces include:
- Raw vegetables
- Hard crusted breads
- Pizza crusts
- Bubble gum
Easy foods to eat include:
- Cooked vegetables
- Soft bread
Lingual braces will make it difficult to brush and floss your teeth but it is important to do so after every meal. Using a small-headed or electric toothbrush can make cleaning easier.
Your dentist will take an accurate and detailed impression of your upper and lower teeth. The impressions will be sent to a dental lab that will custom-make the brackets and wires for your braces.
A mock-up of your teeth arranged in perfect alignment will also be made. The mock-up is scanned into a computer that will design and customise your braces. The brackets are imbedded in an applicator tray to be held over your teeth to ensure precise alignment while bonding them in place.
Your dentist will prepare your teeth so the bonding will properly adhere to the surface. The bonding will be applied to each of the brackets, then the applicator tray will be placed over your teeth to hold them in place.
Once the bonding has set, your dentist will take away the applicator tray and the brackets will remain on your teeth. The pre-bent archwires will be put into place.
Lingual braces tend to be more expensive because the treatment is more difficult and complex, as it is behind the teeth. The brackets and wires used for lingual braces are custom-made, compared to standard braces, which are mass produced.
The reason not all dentists offer lingual braces include:
- More involved treatment
- There are other methods a dentist may prefer
- Additional training
The lingual treatment technique creates some difficulties that dentists would otherwise not encounter. The brackets are placed on the backside of the teeth, decreasing access and visibility. The archwire has a more complex bend than standard braces.
There are other minimally-visible orthodontic systems available.
Some of the more sophisticated lingual brace systems require additional, specialised training to fit the braces.