Lingual braces are a form of traditional metal braces which were developed approximately 30 years ago. Lingual braces are an orthodontic device not well known to patients or the general public because many orthodontists don’t offer lingual braces. While all orthodontic care requires specialized training in orthodontics, treating patients using lingual braces requires even further training in these specific devices, and the majority of orthodontists in California and throughout the United States haven’t been trained in lingual braces. As the name suggests, lingual braces attach the brackets to the posterior area of the teeth which faces the patient’s tongue. All of the same orthodontic concepts apply to treating orthodontic conditions using lingual braces as with any other form of orthodontic treatment. The main reason a patient would choose lingual braces is for the cosmetic benefit of having a less visible orthodontic device. The potential drawbacks to lingual braces are that they tend to be somewhat slower in guiding teeth into an optimized alignment, and for some patients having the braces adjacent to the tongue can actually be less comfortable and more inconvenient than the configuration of traditional metal braces. In any case, our orthodontists are trained in treatment using lingual braces and we’re able to expertly advise you on the benefits and drawbacks of any orthodontic treatment and recommend the best solution for your unique case.
Comparing lingual braces and Invisalign is a common discussion because each treatment’s primary goal (besides optimizing tooth alignment) is to provide a visually discreet orthodontic device. As with comparisons between traditional metal braces and Invisalign, the choice isn’t necessarily an either/or situation. Invisalign is the most convenient and visually discreet orthodontic device available, but these clear retainers can’t correct severe orthodontic conditions, and don’t allow your orthodontist to guide the treatment with the very nuanced and detailed control that traditional metal braces provide. To be clear, when Invisalign is an appropriate solution for a specific case, it can actually correct the orthodontic issue faster than traditional metal braces, and do it with the greatest comfort and visual discretion, but unfortunately Invisalign can’t correct every orthodontic condition.
Lingual braces are able to correct more severe orthodontic conditions in the same way traditional metal braces can because they are traditional metal braces. Some orthodontists have observed that, although they’re able to achieve optimal results using lingual braces, the treatment time may be slightly longer than traditional metal braces. Having brackets placed on the posterior of the surface of the patient’s teeth tends to result in a slower shifting of teeth, but ultimately the same great results produced by traditional metal braces are achieved using lingual braces. Particularly when used in conjunction with an advanced ecosystem like iTero, final treatment results using lingual braces are mostly dependent on the nature of the individual case and the skills and experience of the orthodontist treating the individual rather than the location of the brackets.
For some patients, extended treatment time is worth the added visual discretion. For some patients who may be very active, lingual braces protect the lips, mouth, and interior of the cheeks from getting injured during activities like sports. There are also patients who feel that wearing clear aligners like Invisalign is actually more visible than lingual braces because, while lingual braces are physically shielded by teeth, Invisalign and clear aligners technically are not hidden, they’re just more difficult to notice because they are mostly transparent.
Ultimately, there are benefits to lingual braces and traditional metal braces. Lingual braces may cause more discomfort and cause more difficult with eating, while traditional metal braces can cause the interior of lips and cheeks to be very sensitive to pressure on the face which can be a major issue for active patients. Lingual braces provide a great visual benefit while traditional metal metal braces will generally produce an optimized tooth alignment faster. When you’re considering orthodontic treatment there is a range of information to consider which can be overwhelming. While it’s helpful to educate yourself as much as possible regarding your options so that you can make an informed decision, you won’t know exactly what’s possible for your particular case without a professional orthodontic evaluation. We recommend scheduling an orthodontic evaluation at one of our offices in Thousand Oaks, Oxnard, or Carpinteria so that we can assess and diagnose your case, determine what treatment options are suitable for your particular orthodontic condition, and allow you to make a genuinely well informed decision.