Having braces fitted by your dentist is one of the easiest and most effective ways to straighten your teeth, but traditional braces can be bulky, highly visible and aesthetically displeasing. This can discourage many people from having them fitted, especially in later life; however, there is an alternative.
Lingual braces work in the same way as traditional braces but are designed and fitted to be much less visible, making them a popular choice for adult brace wearers. While these specialised braces sport a number of advantages over their more traditional cousins, they also have some unique disadvantages, so it's important to take stock of your needs before committing to having lingual braces fitted.
How do lingual braces differ from traditional braces?
Traditional braces are cemented to your teeth and attached to one another with lengths of flexible elastic, creating gentle but constant pressure on the teeth which helps them become more properly aligned over time. Lingual braces function on these very same principles, though while traditional braces are fitted to the fronts of your teeth, lingual braces are fitted to the backs.
What are the advantages of lingual braces over traditional braces?
As you can imagine, having your braces fitted to the backs of your teeth rather than the front makes them significantly less visible. They are a popular choice among adult brace wearers who might otherwise be dissuaded from wearing traditional braces due to social stigmas and their somewhat ungainly appearance.
This hidden positioning can also have other benefits. Since lingual braces are so well hidden, you do not need to worry about the superficial discolouration that most braces suffer over the course of their working life. This is particularly useful if your braces require strong elastic attachments to correct major tooth malocclusion, as these components are generally the most susceptible to discolouration. Positioning the braces behind the teeth also gives them an added layer of protection against accidents and impact damage, a particular boon for sportspeople.
What about the disadvantages of lingual braces?
Unfortunately, all of these advantages come at a price, and it can often be a hefty one. Because lingual braces are less popular than traditional configurations, they generally have to be custom made, which can dramatically increase prices as well as the amount of time it will take to manufacture your braces. The actual process of having them fitted can also be more expensive, due to their awkward positioning and the increased time and expertise required of your dentist.
Lingual braces can also be initially uncomfortable to wear, particularly if you are used to wearing traditional braces. This discomfort is generally temporary, but lingual braces can also cause problems with speech which may be more enduring. This is because lingual braces protrude into the space normally occupied by your tongue, and can cause the tongue to brush against them while you speak. People who suffer from this problem generally develop a temporary lisp and may find that the tip of their tongue becomes irritated by the constant abrasion -- if this happens to you, return to your dentist to have your braces readjusted as soon as possible.
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