What are Lingual Braces?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel
Orthodontic braces are typically only applied to healthy teeth.
Orthodontic braces are typically only applied to healthy teeth.

Lingual braces are a kind of dental braces that are fitted on the backs of the teeth instead of on the front of the teeth as with traditional braces. When lingual braces have been fitted onto the teeth they are, for the most part, not visible when the wearer is speaking. If the wearer opens his mouth quite widely, however, the braces may be visible from some angles.

Modern dental braces are less visible than traditional braces.
Modern dental braces are less visible than traditional braces.

Most people wear lingual braces for cosmetic reasons. Many people believe that braces on the front of the teeth are unsightly and prefer to have their braces hidden on the backs of their teeth. Lingual braces are also sometimes worn by models, actors, and people who work in broadcasting so that their braces are hidden although they are in the public eye.

One major difference between lingual braces and regular braces that fit on the front of the teeth are the brackets. The brackets that fit on the front of the teeth are all uniform in shape. The brackets that are used for lingual braces, however, have to be formed to fit the back of each tooth. This is because the front of the teeth are rather flat. The backs of the teeth, however, each have a slightly different shape.

There are some drawbacks to wearing lingual braces instead of traditional braces. As the brackets are affixed to the back of the teeth, with wire strung between them, the braces on the lower teeth are in regular contact with the tongue. This can cause discomfort in addition to the normal discomfort that is a part of wearing braces. Most people wearing braces experience soreness when their braces are put on and for periods of time following each adjustment. This soreness can often be managed with over-the-counter pain medicine, as instructed by one's doctor or dentist.

In addition to causing this kind of discomfort, lingual braces may irritate the tongue and cause it to become tender or sore. There are some ways to assuage this discomfort such as swallowing without thrusting the tongue against the lower teeth and using wax to cover the braces when the tongue is especially sore. Finally, some people find enunciating and speaking clearly difficult while wearing lingual braces. This can usually be overcome with practice and as wearers get used to the presence and feel of the braces on the backs of their teeth.

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for wiseGEEK, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for wiseGEEK, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

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Discussion Comments

umbra21

I'm really glad I was never put into braces, although I sucked my thumb as a kid and my parents were convinced I would be.

I think some dentists might have put me in them anyway, for cosmetic reasons, but my dentist was a big believer in only doing what was necessary for healthy teeth.

I'm also glad for my parents sakes, as they would have struggled with the braces' cost. I don't know if lingual braces were available when I was a kid, but I've heard now that the average price is well over the average price of ordinary braces, so I probably would have had a mouthful of metal to deal with.

KoiwiGal

@anon136176 - Unfortunately, lingual braces prices are much more expensive than normal braces. Because the backs of the teeth are so uneven, and because the braces are going to be in contact with the tongue all the time, they have to be custom fitted, so they sit as close to the teeth as possible.

And anything that has to be custom fitted is going to be more expensive. Not only because you'll need even more of an examination in order to get fitted, but the braces themselves will take longer to make.

I also think you might have trouble getting these with insurance, since they seem to mostly be for cosmetic reasons. I don't think the insurance people would accept that reason for the extra expense, although considering the trauma some kids go through when they get braces, maybe they should.

anon136176

are these types of braces very expensive? i would like to try them if they are not.

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    • Orthodontic braces are typically only applied to healthy teeth.
      Orthodontic braces are typically only applied to healthy teeth.
    • Modern dental braces are less visible than traditional braces.
      Modern dental braces are less visible than traditional braces.