How lingual braces work

There are a variety of braces that can be used to straighten and align the teeth, and one type used by Dr. Michael Chiang, our orthodontist in Sienna, is lingual braces. These braces are also called incognito braces, lingual orthodontic treatment or hidden braces. These are braces whose brackets are put on the back of the teeth and face the tongue, which gives them their formal name. Because of this, they can’t be seen by a casual observer, which is great for people who don’t want others to know they’re wearing braces. At the same time, hidden braces are like other braces in that they exert a gentle, steady pressure on the teeth that pushes them into alignment over time.

Who’s A Candidate?

First, Dr. Chiang will need to determine if the patient who wants these braces is a good candidate by examining their teeth and their jaws. Most patients respond well to lingual orthodontic treatment, though it may not be ideal for patients who have a severe overbite. This is because a severe overbite can put such pressure on lingual brackets that they can fall off.

The Procedure

Installing hidden braces require a great deal of skill and even some artistry on the part of the dentist. Since these types of braces are customized, impressions need to be made of the teeth that are to hold the brackets and sent to a dental laboratory. Not only this, the wires that connect the brackets also need to be somewhat customized. This needs to be done to make sure the teeth eventually come into perfect alignment. It is also challenging for the orthodontist to apply the braces to the back of the teeth, because they are harder to see and work on than the front. Indeed, orthodontists need special training to learn how to place lingual orthodontics correctly.

Moreover, all of the brackets in lingual orthodontic treatment have to be cemented on the teeth all at once. The orthodontist does this by using a tray that is also customized for the patient. With traditional braces that go on the front of the teeth, brackets are placed one at a time. These brackets, called buccal brackets, are often standardized, which means they can be placed easily on most teeth.

In some cases, if the patient’s mouth is really crowded, some teeth may need to be extracted before they can have lingual orthodontics.

Benefits of Lingual Braces

Besides not being able to see them, there are a number of benefits of lingual orthodontics. They are especially good at correcting difficult kinds of misalignments that more traditional braces would have trouble with. They are better at fixing rotated teeth, for example. Rotated teeth are just that: teeth that have been turned around either because there’s too little room in the mouth, too much room in the mouth or because of trauma.

Lingual orthodontics can also close gaps caused when a tooth is pulled and can even make the height of the teeth more even. Not only this, if there is a bit of discoloration from the brackets, they’ll be on the inside of the tooth instead of the outside where they can be seen.

The fact that lingual orthodontics are custom made makes them that much more comfortable, though there’s bound to be a bit of tightness when they are first applied. Invisible braces are also excellent for people who use their mouth and lips to play musical instruments.

Some Drawbacks

As lingual orthodontics have benefits, there are also some drawbacks. Some patients find that the feel of the braces against their tongue a bit hard to get used to, and there are patients who develop a lisp until their tongue grows used to the braces. There are many sounds made by the tongue pressing against the back of the teeth, and the braces can interfere with this for a while. Some patients find that their tongue may become sore or irritated, but this also goes away after the braces have been worn for a time.

It also must be said that lingual orthodontics cost more than traditional braces because of the skill it takes to place them and the fact that they are custom made.

Also, patients who opt for these braces must take the same care of their oral hygiene as they would with traditional braces. They should avoid eating sticky or crunchy foods such as caramel popcorn, chewing gum and hard candy, and they will need to take even more effort to clean around the brackets and wires than they would with traditional braces.

Some patients may also need to wear lingual orthodontics longer than they would traditional braces, because lingual brackets work more slowly and subtly than buccal brackets. As they would with regular braces, the patient will need to regularly visit their orthodontist to make sure everything’s going the way it should.

If you think hidden braces might be right for you, set up a consultation with your Sienna orthodontist, Dr. Michael Chiang.