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What are Lingual Braces? [Facts and Myths]

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What are Lingual Braces. For many adults who had braces in their youth, the experience is still associated with unpleasant memories. Traditional braces can be painful, annoying and carry a social stigma. They make brushing difficult, are prone to trapping food, and may irritate the inner lining, or mucosa, of the mouth. Overall, traditional braces are an unattractive prospect for both teens and adults. 


Lingual braces are different and address many of the problems that come with traditional braces. Lingual simply means lying next to the tongue. These braces are affixed to the back, or tongue side, of the teeth, effectively hiding them from view even when the wearer is smiling broadly, so there’s no embarrassment or drop in self-confidence.

Lingual braces are much less likely to irritate the gums and cheeks than traditional braces, and they are just as effective at correcting tooth crowding and bite problems. They may even be faster than traditional braces. Like traditional braces, lingual braces can be used by both kids and adults and can correct any complexity of issues just as traditional braces can.


Although there is some debate about whether lingual braces were invented in Japan or the United States, it’s known that they were first used in the US in 1976. Lingual braces were first used due to their discretion and virtual invisibility. Celebrity patients, for example, did not want to show any metal while fixing their smiles. Wearers soon discovered that they were also less prone to cheek irritations and injury in case of trauma to the mouth than friends with traditional braces.

Lingual braces technology has advanced steadily over the years. Today, lingual braces continue to, advance by leaps and bounds, benefiting both patients and doctor. Lingual braces can be customized to fit your particular teeth, making them extremely comfortable. Wires are bent with the use of robotic technology according to your doctor’s prescription. A Lingual braces expert Orthodontist is well-versed in the differences between how teeth move with lingual as opposed to traditional braces. Be sure to seek an Elite Lingual (ELOS) certified Orthodontist if you are considering lingual braces for yourself or your child.

Brands of Lingual Braces

There are several brands of lingual braces to choose from. Each ELOS lingual braces expert uses a different brand according to personal preference, and they are all equally excellent. Some of the brands include:

  • Incognito by 3M. This brand uses CAD software to customize the braces and treatment. Incognito braces are mainly composed of gold and use transparent elastic rings to attach the wires to the braces.
  • Harmony by American Orthodontics (AO). Harmony lingual braces also use digital technology to customize brackets and wires according to the doctor’s prescription. Since these braces are self-ligating, there is no elastic used to hold the wire in place.
  • SureSmile by OraMetrix. SureSmile uses mainly a customized wire that is bent using robot technology to easily follow your doctor’s prescription for treatment. The brackets are not customized but are extremely small in size.
  • Speed. These advanced braces can be affixed with either direct or indirect bonding. The variable method gives the orthodontist the option of choosing the best technique for the patient’s unique situation.

Lingual Braces vs. Invisalign

Invisalign uses transparent orthodontic aligners and is sometimes viewed as a competitor to lingual braces. Like lingual braces, Invisalign is discreet, but there are some important differences. First, and most importantly, Invisalign cannot correct all types of orthodontic problems. Crossbites, the tipping of a tooth and various other issues cannot be corrected using Invisalign since it is truly designed for very simple cases.

Second, Invisalign isn’t truly invisible. No one wants their orthodontic appliance showing up in an important photo, and there’s still a sheen visible on Invisalign appliances that is particularly noticeable in direct or bright light, such as during flash photography. Also, in order to improve the outcomes of certain types of movements Invisalign tries to achieve, you will be required to wear clear ‘buttons’ on a few of your teeth, which essentially look like clear braces.

Third, Invisalign is removable and is designed to be taken out when eating or drinking. This causes an inconvenience and creates the opportunity for lost appliances. It’s all too easy to accidentally throw away your aligners in a napkin at the end of a meal. Since lingual braces are attached to the teeth, this problem is avoided entirely.

Lastly, Invisalign requires the wearer to have strict discipline to wear the aligners at least 22 hours per day, otherwise, the effectiveness of the appliance is reduced. Frequently we find that kids and even adults just don’t have the discipline to do what is required for a successful treatment and it is not uncommon for a patient to quit half-way through treatment.

Conditions that Can Be Treated with Lingual Braces

There is no limit to what lingual braces can do in terms of treating any orthodontic need, no matter how complex your situation. Lingual braces are capable of giving you the same excellent treatment results, if not better, than traditional braces. Here is just a sampling of common conditions that can be treated with either lingual or traditional braces:

In sum, there is no real difference in what you can achieve whether you are using behind the teeth or traditional braces. And these devices may give you a faster, more comfortable treatment!

Lingual braces

What are the drawbacks of lingual braces

Here are the most common complaints we see regarding lingual braces:

  • May irritate the tongue, especially for the first few days after receiving them. Your lingual orthodontist can provide special wax to prevent this. Lingual braces are not prone to causing irritation to the cheeks and gums like traditional braces.
  • May cause you to have a slight change in speech for a short time as you become accustomed to speaking with your new braces. Mainly sounds that are produced by touching the tongue to the back of the teeth are sometimes affected. It only takes a couple of days of wearing the lingual braces to get used to speaking with them.
  • The cost is generally higher than that of traditional braces. This is mainly due to the fact that they are highly customized to fit your particular teeth and they require special technical skill to be able to use them effectively. Still, the price is far from astronomical and for a treatment spread over 1- 2 years which includes all visits and retainers at the end, the investment in your smile is well worth it.

Getting your Lingual Braces

The exact procedure for getting your lingual braces will vary based on the brand chosen, but the process starts with an orthodontic consultation by a certified lingual (ELOS) Orthodontic expert. Your orthodontist will give you a thorough examination and show you what he/she recommends in terms of your personalized treatment plan and will most likely take a set of digital x-rays. All of your questions will be answered during this initial appointment, which is frequently complimentary. As part of this consultation, your orthodontist may also want to take 3D photos of your teeth and bite.

Some lingual braces systems require an impression of your teeth. But most can use this 3D image to fabricate your custom lingual braces. These images are also extremely useful in providing a visual aid in explaining your personalized treatment plan. The 3D image or mold is then sent to a specialized lab in order for your braces to be custom-fabricated. Generally, 6-8 weeks your braces will arrive and you’ll be visiting your orthodontist to have your custom-lingual braces placed!

Lingual braces are the perfect solution for anyone who wants to correct bite problems discreetly or simply desires a beautiful smile. Adults and kids alike will appreciate the complete invisibility and the freedom of not having to keep up with a removable appliance. Many orthodontists don’t offer these braces due to the specialized equipment and training needed. But there are experienced lingual orthodontists available.

Now is a perfect time to take advantage of the technology out there today and start yourself on the road to a better smile! Start by checking here to find an expert lingual ELOS orthodontist near you.


What are Lingual Braces – Facts and Myths

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