Excerpt from Improve Your Smile, Transform Your Life: A Guide to Orthodontics for Adults by Dr. Leslie Pitner, founding ELOS member. You can get a copy at Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Use the following link: https://goo.gl/ExETyR
With lingual braces, the brackets are placed on the back, rather than on the front, of the teeth. That means that unless you’re howling with laughter, they’re completely hidden. Not surprisingly, these were initially developed for people working in Hollywood in the 1980s. Those early lingual braces tanked because the brackets were so big they were cutting up people’s tongues, and fitting them to the uneven surfaces on the inside of the teeth was challenging. Because of this, the development of lingual braces was largely abandoned in the US. The Europeans, however, continued to work on perfecting them and were soon manufacturing smaller, custom-made devices.
Advances in technology and materials have made it possible for specialists to customize lingual braces to the individual wearer—which is both a great advantage and a challenge for the practitioner who doesn’t do this procedure often enough to feel comfortable with the technology. If you’re shopping for customized lingual braces, make sure that the orthodontist you choose is someone with plenty of experience in this area (and be very wary of any practitioner whose website features lingual braces as a treatment option, but who then tries to talk you into getting Invisalign instead once you’re in their offices). I often get patient referrals from orthodontists who don’t have this skill set. Some will take a weekend course to earn a certification, but this is really an area in which practice makes perfect, so don’t settle.
As with any braces, there are pros and cons to lingual; most people will have a little tongue irritation at first, and some degree of speech impairment for a few days to a couple of weeks until they adjust to having them in their mouths.
How invisible are they? One of my patients, Andrea, told me that when she’d run into people she hadn’t seen for a while, they would invariably say, “Oh, you look great, you look different. Have you lost weight? Did you change your hair?” She never told any of them that she was straightening her teeth and none of them guessed; in fact, she even got married in her braces, and nobody knew.
A Guide to Orthodontics for Adults by Dr. Leslie Pitner