7 Things To Know About Lingual Braces: Pros, Cons & Cost
Lingual braces are no different from traditional braces, except they’re designed to be worn on the back of your teeth rather than the front. The biggest reason why people choose these “hidden” braces is that you can’t see them whenever you’re talking or smiling; they’re physically blocked from plain view by your teeth. If you don’t qualify for clear aligners or don’t want ceramic braces because they’re still visible, behind the teeth lingual braces or invisible braces are the next best choice when straightening teeth.
What Are Lingual Braces?
Are Lingual Braces Right For You?
Lingual braces are a great option for many people because they treat most orthodontic concerns. But this doesn't necessarily mean that everyone should get them. It really depends on the severity of your tooth misalignment and if you're willing to take the time to maintain good oral hygiene habits around these hard-to-clean appliances.
How Much Do Lingual Braces Cost?
Lingual braces are more expensive than traditional orthodontics, but if you aren’t limited by your budget, they may be worth it. The specialized lingual braces can cost well over $5,000 and even up to $13,000 in some cases. On the other hand, traditional braces or aligners may only cost around $3,000 for more conservative treatment. Even though there’s some overlap involved depending on where you live, what your dentist or orthodontist offers, and the cost of supplies, you can normally expect a higher fee for lingual braces treatments than any other type of orthodontic appliance on the market.
|Braces Type||Average Cost|
|Conventional Metal Braces||$3,000 to $7,350|
|Ceramic Braces||$2,000 to $8,500|
|Clear Aligner Trays||$3,000 to $8,000|
|Lingual Braces||$5,000 to $13,000|
Why Are Lingual More Than Conventional Braces?
1. Cost Factors
Straight teeth can cost a lot. There are a lot more expenses your dentist has to cover, such as lab fees, supplies, and staff training to even offer lingual braces to their patients. This increases the cost of specialized orthodontics and makes them more expensive for people like you.
2. Dental Insurance Coverage
If you have orthodontic benefits under your insurance plan, you run the risk of the orthodontist not taking your dental insurance or your policy excluding any type of braces other than traditional treatment.
3. Your Location
What makes lingual braces differ from traditional braces not only on cost but is hard to find someone to do them. It can be really hard to find an orthodontist near you who offers lingual braces. Even in one major metropolitan area, there might only be 1-2 lingual braces providers if that. You might even have to drive to the next town to find somebody who offers them, adding additional travel expenses to your cost of braces.
4. Training and Resources
I’ll put it bluntly. A lot of orthodontists don’t offer lingual braces because they require a ton of additional supplies, resources, and staff training. The cost is as much of a factor for them as it is for you, and it isn’t necessarily worth it for them to add the treatment to their menu of services because only a small percentage of patients actually want them.
Pros And Cons Of Lingual Braces
There’s a lot to consider about lingual braces disadvantages and advantages before you commit to the treatment. Everyone is different, from their pain tolerance to their cosmetic standards, so it’s important to know what you’re getting into before trying this unique orthodontic system. If the advantages weigh in your favor, it’s worth the “minor inconveniences” that lingual braces disadvantages might pose on a short-term basis.
Advantages of Lingual Braces
Lingual braces are basically invisible because they’re physically tucked behind all of your teeth to where you can’t see them. You would literally have to open your mouth up and invite someone super-close to look inside to see the lingual appliance behind your teeth. The average Joe isn’t going to know you have braces, so you get to enjoy natural, gradual teeth straightening experience without the outside world staring at your mouth.
2. Corrects Most Bite Misalignments
If you don’t qualify for clear aligners because of the way your teeth line up—and your dentist told you that traditional braces are your only option—lingual orthodontics can basically correct all of the same issues that are treatable with regular braces. Such as gapped teeth, crowding, overbites, and rotated teeth. More severe bite misalignments almost always call for fixed appliances instead of removable aligners, so lingual braces give you the opportunity for an “invisible” treatment during the process.
Disadvantages of Lingual Braces
1. They Take Longer
If you want “regular” braces, you can normally get them put on your teeth on the same day as your orthodontic consultation if you want to. But lingual braces require special impressions, customized brackets and wires, and other specialized appliances that most dentists and orthodontists don’t have in their office. They take longer to get started, way more planning to oversee, and may move your teeth more slowly than traditional appliances do.
It’s not a matter of “if” lingual braces are more uncomfortable to wear, they just are. They’re right next to your tongue, so there’s a whole new level of getting used to your appliances than what most braces patients will go through. For some people, the disadvantage of uncomfortable braces outweighs the benefits of not having visible dental hardware.
3. They Cost More
Behind the teeth braces just cost more than other braces do. No matter where you live or which dentist you’re seeing, the fees are going to be higher than traditional, ceramic, or removable aligner braces. Lingual braces disadvantages are that they require specialized equipment and training, both of which add labor and other costs to consider. There’s no such thing as cheap behind the teeth braces (at least yet!) Clear aligners used to be the same way, but the fee for removable orthodontic trays has come down over the years; it’s possible that the price for lingual braces may eventually do the same.
4. They Can Give You A Lisp
Have you ever heard someone talking with food in their mouth? It doesn’t sound the same way, because there’s something in the way of how their tongue normally needs to move. With lingual braces you see the same thing. Even though behind the teeth braces are relatively small, they’re still large enough that your tongue has to adjust the way it shapes itself when you’re forming letter sounds. We use our teeth for talking a lot more than most people realize.
Thankfully, you can learn to talk with lingual braces as long as you put in plenty of practice and have a lot of patience. But it might take a few weeks.
5. They’re Hard to Clean
With traditional braces, you can at least see what you’re doing in the bathroom mirror. But lingual braces are hidden from you, too. Trying to weave a floss threader or get a proxy brush between your brackets may feel impossible, even if you’ve got great dexterity. A water flosser will be an absolute must.
Lingual Braces vs. Regular Braces
The biggest difference between traditional and lingual braces is that lingual braces are invisible, while traditional braces are not. They aren’t see-through or tooth-colored like ceramic braces; behind the teeth braces are just physically hidden behind your teeth so that you can't see them when smiling. But traditional and lingual braces basically work in the same way and they're made out of the same material. The only difference is that one is bonded on the back of your teeth (lingual) and the other is bonded to the front of them (regular/traditional.)
But before you get too excited, know this: lingual braces can cost up to twice as much as traditional braces because of the extra materials, resources, training, and expertise required from your orthodontist. If that’s a deal breaker for you, you might want to think about ceramic braces, which are traditional orthodontics made out of tooth-colored materials.
Lingual Braces vs. Clear Aligners
Most people consider lingual braces and clear aligners for their “invisible” nature. People won’t see or know you’re in braces. However, clear aligners are removable, making everyday maintenance easy. Clear aligners can be removed for eating, brushing, flossing, and other activities while lingual braces cannot. When you compare the two, lingual braces are far more challenging to clean around. Plus, you have to modify the way you eat and talk with the appliances on your teeth.
On the flipside, lingual braces may be more effective for managing more complex tooth misalignment when clear aligners aren’t appropriate. If you’re dead set on avoiding visible braces, lingual appliances are your next best choice.
If you need a shorter to moderate treatment option, clear aligners may be the quicker and more affordable choice. But if you know you’re going to struggle with keeping up with your aligners, a fixed orthodontic system like lingual braces still gives you the invisible look you want.
Why Do Lingual Braces Take Longer?
Lingual braces require custom brackets and only certain dentists offer them, which can delay the start of your treatment or access to certain types of appliances that are usually standard in an orthodontic office. Special adjustments need to be made to the lingual arch, so if there’s an unexpected step to take, your provider may need to order certain supplies to continue your treatment. Since braces on the back of teeth do more “pulling” than “pushing” (like traditional braces) your dentist will need to move the teeth more slowly to ensure nothing pops off or pulls away from your teeth, which usually equates to a slower tooth movement process.
Talk With Your Dentist About
If you’re thinking about getting “behind the teeth” braces, the first step is to talk to a dentist or orthodontist. You might start off with a initial consultation just to review all of your options and get their professional input. Or you could call around to find out who offers lingual braces at their office. If you can’t find anyone, ask your general dentist if they know of a specialist who offers this orthodontic treatment.
Chances are, you have other orthodontic braces options to consider, such as ceramic braces or removable clear aligners (Invisalign). Getting a second or third opinion can help you feel confident about your treatment choice.
Will Lingual Braces Work For You?
Getting braces on the back of teeth instead of the front of them is a great way to complete traditional orthodontic treatment without anybody else knowing about it. The downside is that lingual braces can be a lot more expensive, way more difficult to clean around, and you have to find an orthodontist near you who offers them (since they’re a more niche’ type of braces in general.) But if you really need braces, these minor lingual braces advantages are worth it to hide all of your orthodontic appliances on an everyday basis!
teethtalkgirl content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or medical doctor to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.J Orthod.. Lingual orthodontic treatment: what is the current evidence base?. J Orthod.. 2013 Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24005948/. March 23, 2023 Journal of Clinical and Experimental Dentistry. Practice of lingual orthodontics and practitioners’ opinion and experience with lingual braces in the United States. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Dentistry. 2021 Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8412811/. March 23, 2023