Misaligned teeth mar your smile and give you a serious aesthetic and social disadvantage. In addition, it is also difficult to clean crooked teeth, and it creates problems during speaking and eating.
As a result, misaligned teeth are at a greater risk of developing teeth cavities and periodontal problems. For over a century, metallic dental braces have been a popular device to improve one’s smile and oral health by straightening crooked and misaligned teeth.
Traditional Wire Braces
Over the decades, driven by esthetic requirements and human ingenuity, the metallic dental braces have evolved from the ugly metal-mouth forms to the sleek current forms. Although, these braces have improved greatly in form and function, they still possess some serious disadvantages, such as poor esthetics due to their metallic appearance.
The Visibility Issue
For conventional wire braces the arch wires run outside the teeth and hold the brackets also outside the teeth. Thus, the arch wire and the brackets show up when the person speaks or smiles.
To overcome this problem, braces were designed in such a way that they were attached to the lingual (towards the tongue) surface of the teeth and they became invisible. These types of braces are known as lingual braces.
What are Lingual Braces?
Lingual braces are fixed orthodontic appliances that are attached to the teeth just like the conventional braces. However, the only difference is that they are attached to the inner surface of the teeth. The only things visible then are the thin dental bands which go around the individual teeth. Thus cosmetically, lingual braces are far superior to the conventional wire braces
How Lingual Braces Are Applied
Just like the conventional (front) braces, the process involves the following steps:
- Removal of teeth to create space: Sometimes, one or two teeth need to be removed from one or both jaws to create room for the alignment of remaining teeth.
- Impression taking: Your orthodontist takes impressions of your teeth using a special paste which will harden. He or she will ask you to bite on it and hold the mouth closed till it solidifies. This impression is then used to prepare study models, which in addition to x-rays, are used for preparing a customized treatment plan.
- Brackets: Next, the brackets are attached to the inner surface of all the teeth. An archwire made from stainless steel or titanium alloys passes through specially created slots in the braces, and ends at the bans which are attached to the molar teeth in both the jaws. The wire is attached to the teeth with the help of ties or ligature, which are available in different colors.
- Adjustment: The dentist adjusts the arch wire to apply controlled force on the teeth, and makes sure none of the structure causes any irritation to the tongue or palate. That completes the initial set up.
Just like for conventional braces, adjustments must be made monthly, and the complete alignment may take two three years when using lingual braces.
The exact period will depend on the initial misalignment, crowding of the teeth or bite problems. Again, retainers must be used for about six months after the braces are removed.
Not all orthodontists offer lingual braces because special training and technical expertise are needed. Space between the teeth and the tongue or palate may be limited, and the braces may initially cause an irritation. The arch wire and the brackets are custom made due to these complications, and hence, lingual braces cost somewhat more.
Types of Lingual Braces
Various types are available depending on your individual case and your dentist’s expertise. Some of popular types are: Incognito, iBraces, Suresmile Lingual QT, In-Ovation, STb Light Lingual etc.
Taking Care of Lingual Braces
Just like other orthodontic appliances special attention must be paid to oral hygiene so that tooth decay or gingivitis do not develop. This involves:
- Brushing: regular brushing with a soft brush at least twice a day and flossing or oral irrigation.
- Flossing: Flossing daily (floss threader can also be used) or an interproximal brush (if space between the teeth is present) to remove plaque and food debris between the teeth.
- Fluoride Therapy: Fluoride rinses will help strengthen the teeth. Above all this, six-monthly inspections and cleanings are recommended.
Thanks to the lingual braces, teeth brackets will no longer be visible! This means that you won’t have to worry about your braces whenever you speak or smile.
A great time lapse video about how teeth move using lingual braces. Duration: 1:26