Some patients are worried about how they will look having metal braces on the front of their teeth, so they ask us:
“Can you get braces on the back of your teeth?”
Yes, there are braces that go on the back of the teeth and they are quite different to traditional metal braces. Braces behind the teeth are known as “lingual braces”, although some people also call them “incognito braces”.
By far the biggest advantage of lingual braces is their appearance (or lack of)! Lingual braces are also known as ‘invisible braces’ because they are so well concealed. Close up, a person may detect your braces but from a distance and when you smile in photos, no one can tell you have braces.
Getting braces on the back of the teeth is a popular choice for adults who want to improve their smile. They may not want colleagues or friends to know they have braces, so they choose the concealed option. Lingual braces are also an option for self-conscious teens or those that have an important event coming up like a wedding or school formal.
Are There Any Disadvantages to Braces on the Back of the Teeth?
There are a few downsides to lingual braces that you should consider before deciding if this is the treatment option for you. Lingual braces are more expensive than standard metal braces because they are custom made whereas metal, silver coloured braces are standard so come in many standard sizes. The Orthodontist scans your teeth at the start of treatment for lingual braces. The scan allows the orthodontist and dental laboratory to design and make each bracket so it is a perfect fit to the back of each tooth.
Although some people call them “invisible braces”, they aren’t always invisible. Some patients need to wear rubber bands (elastics) attached to the top and bottom row of lingual braces which can be visible. The bands are taken out before eating and drinking but need to be replaced soon after. The elastics can speed up treatment time however lingual braces usually take longer than standard braces.
Lingual braces can affect a patient’s speech for a short period after being fitted. The space behind teeth is where the tongue sits, and lingual braces take up some of that space which can cause a change in speech. With practise, a patient’s speech should return to normal.
Like standard braces, lingual braces patients need to be careful about what they eat. Sticky, hard and crunchy foods can break the wires. Until an orthodontist can repair the wire, the braces are not working to move teeth into the right position.
You need to be more diligent about brushing your teeth with braces on the back of your teeth. With the brackets and a wire behind the teeth, it is difficult to see when food particles are stuck. It takes a little more time to get used to brushing teeth with lingual braces because you can’t see what you are doing.
As with traditional braces, you should brush your teeth after every meal to avoid plaque buildup and decay.
Do Lingual Braces Take Longer?
Yes, braces on the back of your teeth can take longer than regular braces. The arch wire attached to the front of teeth in traditional braces has greater pulling power to move teeth into position faster than a wire behind the teeth. Lingual braces require more regular check up appointments than standard braces. The appointments are usually longer than appointments for standard braces so this contributes to the additional cost.
The Pros and Cons of Having Braces Behind Your Teeth
As we have discussed, lingual braces aren’t for everyone. Some treatment types aren’t suitable for hidden braces. For example, a patient with a large overbite may need traditional braces.
Pros of Lingual Braces:
Less chance of marks and decalcification on the front of your teeth
Can treat a wide range of orthodontic issues
Custom made to fit your teeth
Good choice for some musicians e.g. people who play the flute, saxophone, clarinet and other wind instruments
Cons of Lingual Braces:
Can take longer and require longer appointments
Takes some time to adjust to speaking clearly with lingual braces
Are more expensive than regular braces or Invisalign
Can be harder to keep clean because you can’t see food stuck behind your teeth
Considering Orthodontic Treatment as an Adult?
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You can only find out if you are a good candidate for lingual braces through a consultation with an orthodontist. There are other options for concealed orthodontic treatment to consider. Ceramic braces use a tooth-coloured bracket so the braces are less obvious. Clear braces are also less visible than regular metal braces. Some patients have the option of Invisalign aligners, however they aren’t suitable for everyone.
If you would like to know more about how lingual braces work, make a no-obligation appointment at The Orthodontists by calling (08) 9364 8020 or book an appointment online.
Our experienced team will give you all the information you need to make an informed decision about whether lingual braces are the right type of treatment for you.