Linugal braces are, for many, the best of two worlds. Lingual braces force consistent wear (unlike removable aligners), but are nonetheless almost invisible when worn. However, like any orthodontic treatment option, they have their pros and cons.
What are lingual braces?
In most ways, lingual braces are just like normal braces. They’re made of metal brackets and wires that are attached to the teeth, straightening them slowly over a period of months or years.
The (rather clever) difference is that they’re applied to the backs of the teeth, rather than the fronts, essentially hiding them from view unless you open your mouth up wide.
If I want an invisible option, shouldn’t I just get Invisalign clear aligners?
Invisalign is a highly effective and low profile orthodontic treatment option, and is a great choice for many people. However, depending on your personality and specific treatment needs, lingual braces may be a better choice for you than Invisalign.
First of all, Invisalign is most appropriate for mild misalignment. Lingual braces can treat more severe malocclusion, while still providing a very low profile aesthetic.
Secondly, although the fact that Invisalign aligners can be removed is considered to be one of their benefits (since it makes it much easier to eat, brush and floss), this is only a benefit if you'll actually wear your aligners consistently and as prescribed by your orthodontist.
If you think you’re likely to give in to the temptation to take your aligners out when they're sore, or that you'll forget, and ultimately not keep them in for the full 22 hours a day required, then they may not be a good choice for you. Leaving your aligners out for longer than prescribed will inevitably result in treatment setbacks, and could even cause damage to your teeth.
For both these reasons, lingual braces may be a better “invisible” option for for certain people.
Some Potential Cons
Aside from aesthetic considerations, lingual braces don't really provide any significant benefits over traditional braces. They will straighten your teeth in much the same way, and require just about the same treatment duration as well.
Lingual braces can, however, be a bit more expensive than traditional braces, depending in part on what your insurance covers.
There are also some discomfort issue to contend with. While traditional braces can cause irritation to the inside of the lips and cheeks, as well as the gums, some lingual braces patients have complained of irritation to the tongue. Invisalign clear aligners don't really cause these types of problems.
Lingual braces can also be difficult to clean, since it’s a bit awkward to get in there at the backs of your teeth, particularly for flossing. However, regular braces can be tricky to clean as well, and take some getting used to in that respect, so the difference may be not really be worth mentioning.
And finally, your adjustment appointments may take somewhat longer than they would with traditional braces, but not significantly so.
Before deciding whether or not to go for lingual braces, it's important to carefully weigh the above pros and cons. After all, orthodontic treatment is a big commitment, so choosing the very best option for your needs and lifestyle is essential.