Lingual braces, sometimes referred to as incognito or inside braces due to their nearly invisible placement on the back of the teeth, are a recent form of orthodontia correction. They are sought after by those who want to correct their teeth alignment without the distracting look of brace brackets on the front of the teeth. This guide includes information on the use, advantages, and cost of lingual braces.
What Are Lingual Braces?
First, there were metal brace brackets, then ceramic clear brace brackets became available for a more discreet look. Now, lingual braces have become more popular for those who wish to keep their orthodontia treatment as private as possible. While traditional braces are placed on the front of teeth, these braces are placed on the back of the teeth, making them virtually invisible. They are popular among patients of all ages, but particularly adults and teens.
What Are Lingual Braces Used for?
Just like traditional braces, these braces are used to move the teeth gradually over time into their proper position for a beautiful smile. The functionality of these braces is essentially the same as traditional braces, but the placement of the brace brackets is the key difference. The brackets are placed on the backs of the teeth, and wires and bands are incorporated to gradually move the teeth.
Before the braces are placed on the teeth, the orthodontist will take impressions of the teeth. These impressions are used by the dental laboratory who will custom create brackets that will hold the wire and bands that actually move the teeth. It can take several weeks for these brackets to be created due to the precision of the technology required. Once they are created, the brackets will be placed on the back of the teeth using a cement to adhere them in place.
About once a month, the patient will return to the orthodontist’s office for adjustment of the wires and bands. The course of treatment can vary from six months to a few years, depending on the amount of adjustment needed by the patient.
Lingual Braces Cost
Orthodontia treatment is expensive, regardless of the type of treatment. While traditional braces can range from $3,000 to $7,000, these braces are often more expensive. On average, you can pay between $8,000 and $10,000 for lingual braces. In addition to the cost of braces, there may be additional fees for X-rays, office visits, and laboratory fees; however, many orthodontists will roll these expenses into one flat rate for the entire course of treatment.
The primary reasons for additional costs for this treatment are due to the customization of the brackets and the additional specialization and training required by the orthodontist to provide this type of treatment. Some dental insurance providers offer financial assistance with orthodontia treatment, but this amount is often capped at $1,000. There are also dental discount plans that may offer a discount of 20% off the full cost of the orthodontic treatment and related fees. Some dentists also offer payment plans or work with financial companies to provide credit plans.
Lingual Braces Pros and Cons
Lingual Braces Pros
The main appeal and advantage to these braces is their discreet nature compared to traditional braces. In most cases, the braces will not be visible unless a person is looking down into the patient’s mouth. The other key advantages of lingual braces include:
- Their placement makes them appealing for patients who play sports or musical wind instruments.
- Traditional braces can cause some tooth discoloration incurred during the treatment period, so avoiding placement on the front of the teeth can help eliminate this issue.
- Compared to removable tooth aligners and appliances that patients may avoid wearing at times, patient compliance is not an issue.
- Dentists have good control over adjustment and movement.
Lingual Braces Cons
This type of treatment has its limitations as well:
- The teeth must be long enough for the brace brackets to fit on the back side, so those with small teeth may not be able to wear this type of braces.
- If a patient has excessive bite correction needed, this type of treatment may not be appropriate.
- Treatment time can also take longer compared to traditional braces, but patients generally find this to be a fair trade-off for the near invisibility.
- The biggest barrier for this type of treatment is the cost, as their custom nature can make them unaffordable for some patients.
Are You a Good Candidate for Lingual Braces?
As with any orthodontic treatment, it is important for the patient to have good oral health. Patients with any type of periodontal disease or gum issues may not be good candidates for braces until these issues have been appropriately treated. Those who have excessive space between the teeth, but minor or no bite issues will typically see good results. While any age can wear these braces, adults and teens who are more conscious of their appearance or work in fields where braces may be a distraction or hindrance are the typical patients.
Lingual braces effectively adjust tooth positioning while offering near-invisibility during treatment. The placement of the brackets on the backs of the teeth allow the patient to undergo orthodontic treatment while preserving as much privacy as possible. Not everyone may be a good candidate for these braces based on the type of tooth correction needed. Cost may be an issue for some, as they are more expensive compared to traditional braces due to their custom nature. While there are some disadvantages to this type of braces, most patients find the advantages outweigh any side effects.