Lingual Braces: Efficacy, Cost & Comparisons

Lingual Braces: Efficacy, Cost & Comparisons
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Table of Contents

  1. Pros & Cons
  2. Barriers
  3. Am I a Candidate?
  4. References

Lingual braces are similar to traditional braces, including the metal brackets and wires involved, but the entire system sits on the inside of your teeth rather than the outside. This means they are practically invisible to other people. Some people think they are even less visible than clear, plastic aligners.

Lingual braces don’t work for everyone. They are only good for certain candidates, just like most orthodontic devices.

The Ups & Downs of Lingual Braces

Lingual braces can be a highly effective option to realign your smile. Many adults ask about this option because they do not want their orthodontic treatment to be visible, they play a woodwind or brass instrument, or they play sports. Lingual braces are a better option for these hobbies and professions.

More importantly, lingual braces are permanent. They remain on your teeth until your dentist removes them, which means you cannot forget to put them in or lose them as you might with clear, plastic aligners.

For people with very crowded teeth or some types of crossbite or overbites, braces are a more effective treatment than clear aligners. And your dentist has more control over how tight the braces are at the end of each checkup, allowing them to control your treatment plan more effectively.

There are some downsides to lingual braces.

Comfort
Traditional braces can be painful and tight, and lingual braces are similar. Since lingual braces sit inside your teeth, they can scrape your tongue. You may also develop a lisp after you first have them placed, and it’ll take some time to get used to speaking with them in your mouth. Some people report that lingual braces are more painful than traditional braces.
Effectiveness
While lingual braces may be more effective in treating moderate or severe malocclusions or misalignments, they are still not as effective as traditional braces.
Care
Traditional braces are infamous for requiring consistent care and a restricted diet, but lingual braces can require even more care. You will not be able to eat the same things you could eat with traditional braces, and you must be more attentive to how well you clean the backs of your teeth. A survey of 49 studies on lingual braces found that there was more plaque accumulation and gingivitis than with clear, plastic aligners or some other types of orthodontic devices.
Expense
Lingual braces require specialized training to place them, so they can be more expensive than traditional braces or many types of clear, plastic aligners. However, they are about the same price as ceramic braces or long-term treatment with some brands of clear, plastic aligners.
In comparison to traditional braces and clear aligners, lingual braces are not very common, and demand for them is declining.

Availability, Time & Cost Might Be Barriers

Aside from appearance, some of the biggest concerns for adults considering their dental alignment options are cost, length of treatment time, and availability. Lingual braces may be practically invisible, but they are not the best option when considering some other factors.

Time
You will likely wear lingual braces for between one and two years, which is similar to the timeframe for traditional braces or ceramic braces. A treatment timeline with clear, plastic aligners can be similar for those with intensive treatment needs. Unlike with clear aligners, you will need to restrict your diet and take extra care of your lingual braces.
Cost
Lingual braces are one of the more expensive orthodontics options, as they cost between $8,000 and $10,000 before insurance. Invisalign is the most expensive clear aligner option, with price tags ranging from $3,00 to $8,000 before insurance.
Availability
Your orthodontist may not have the necessary training to apply lingual braces, so they may discuss other options with you, including clear, plastic aligners and traditional braces. Even if you are interested in lingual braces, it may be difficult to find a specialist who can apply them correctly.
Still, if you want an invisible option but have greater orthodontic needs that clear aligners are less suited for, lingual braces may be a good option.

Lingual Braces Might Work Well for You

Lingual braces may be a good option for many adults seeking orthodontic treatment, and they can work for some teenagers. They are not a good orthodontic option for children or younger adolescents, whose teeth may be too small to manage this approach.

Although they are more expensive than many orthodontic devices, lingual braces can still be partially covered by insurance if your dentist diagnoses the orthodontic work as necessary.

The time commitment is about the same as other intensive types of dental alignment, and you have the benefit of seeing your dentist every few weeks or months for adjustments and to check that the braces are clean. In-person exams can reduce the risk of different types of misalignment and ensure your teeth are healthy. Your dentist will also be able to make adjustments to your treatment plan as you go if they are necessary.

While many adults opt for clear, plastic aligners for ease, you may find you prefer the appearance, or lack thereof, of lingual braces.

References

I Don’t Want Old Fashioned Braces. What are My Options? (July 2018). American Association of Orthodontists. Date fetched: April 30, 2021.

What Are Lingual Braces? Colgate. Date fetched: April 30, 2021.

The Average Cost of Braces. (January 2021). Value Penguin. Date fetched: April 30, 2021.

Lingual Orthodontic Treatment: Efficacy and Complications. (November 2019). Journal of Advanced Oral Research. Date fetched: April 30, 2021.

Comparison of the Efficacy of Tooth Alignment Among Lingual and Labial Brackets: An In Vitro Study. (November 2018). European Journal of Orthodontics. Date fetched: April 30, 2021.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to serve as dental or other professional health advice and is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or symptom. You should consult a dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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