Lingual braces are orthodontic appliances that are attached to the back of the teeth, making them completely non-visible. This advanced method makes lingual orthodontics particularly well suited for adults, who often want to improve the look and function of their teeth without letting anyone else know about their treatment.
They are made up of two main components: the small metal pieces (known as brackets) that are attached directly to the teeth, plus the wire that connects the brackets together (known as the arch wire). With standard braces, the brackets are cemented to the outside of the teeth, which are quite uniform in their shape. However, lingual brackets are attached to the backside of the teeth, the less visible, more variable surfaces.
ther clarify, the backside of each tooth has its own unique shape-unlike the front of each tooth, which is fairly uniform from person to person. Standard brackets are mass-produced, while each lingual bracket must be custom-formed to the unique shape of each individual tooth. There are, therefore, several variations of lingual bracket designs in use today. To help you learn more about the process of fitting a person with lingual orthodontics, the following is an illustrated tour of the procedure.
Fabricating Lingual Braces
First, an impression of the teeth is made and sent to a laboratory. A laboratory technician pours the impression in plaster. The plaster models are then digitized and the teeth are fitted with virtual brackets in a computer software program... The customized brackets are then printed in wax and cast in a dental gold alloy. The brackets are then transferred to the original model, and placed into a transfer tray. This transfer tray ensures all the brackets stay perfectly aligned while being cemented.
1. The lingual brackets in the transfer tray.
2. Cement is applied to
each lingual bracket
3. With the aid of the transfer tray, the lingual brackets are pressed into place against the backside of the teeth.
4. Once the cement sets,
the transfer tray is easily
removed, leaving the
lingual brackets on the teeth.
5. View of lingual braces in place. (Lower jaw)
Can anyone wear lingual braces?
Yes, most adults and teens who can wear braces on the front of their teeth can wear concealed braces. However, some people with very small teeth or with certain "bites" are better treated with traditional appliances. An orthodontic evaluation will let you know if "invisible" braces might be for you.
Does the treatment take longer?
No, treatment time is comparable to that of traditional braces and sometimes even shorter. Some cases respond more efficiently to Lingual Braces due to certain mechanical advantages of the appliance.
Are Lingual Braces more uncomfortable than traditional braces?
Initial discomfort is similar to that of traditional braces . The difference is that the Lingual Braces will affect the tongue and traditional braces will affect the cheeks and lips. Soreness of the tongue usually lasts only for a few weeks and frequent salt water rinses help avoid discomfort. Once the oral tissues have "toughened" the braces are very comfortable. Patients tend to take approximately 1-4 weeks before they achieve a reasonable comfort level.
Are they expensive?
Although treatment time is similar, lingual braces are more expensive than traditional braces. Special instrumentation, equipment, orthodontists and staff training are required for this technique. The treatment is more sophisticated and the personal time and training required by the orthodontist and his staff is considerably greater.
How easy are they to keep clean?
As always, it is vitally important for you to maintain good oral hygiene and you should brush after every meal. Regular examinations by your family dentist are recommended during the orthodontic treatment period. A water pick or electronic toothbrush is also helpful. If dental plaque is allowed to become thick around the brace the plaque itself may damage the teeth. Instruction will be given on the use of special brushes.
Helpful Hints for Wearers of Lingual Orthodontics
When first getting acquainted with lingual appliances one has to realize that most people do get along with them quite well without any additional aids after a week or two. However, some people are more sensitive than others to the appliances and may develop tissue sores from these initial irritations.
To help with the initial adjustment period, it is suggested you learn to avoid swallowing using a tongue thrust. If you find that your tongue persists when you swallow, try the following technique. Bring your back teeth together as if you were closing your mouth, and with the upper teeth gently contacting the lower, try to swallow. You will find it a little difficult at first, but learning this correct way to swallow will be a great aid in minimizing irritation of the tongue. Second, wax is given to you to use as needed to reduce irritation in tender areas on your tongue. Don't overuse the wax or your mouth will never get used to the brackets. Third, try to speak as much as possible and practice over enunciating at home. This will help you speak more clearly. Remember Demosthenes, the great Roman orator, practiced speaking by putting pebbles in his mouth and then speaking loudly as he faced the Mediterranean Sea . Fourth, eat foods the first few days which are soft and soothing: bean soup, chicken noodle soup, rice, mashed potatoes, soft bread, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches made with soft bread with the crust removed, fruit shakes, cottage cheese, applesauce, and Carnation Instant Breakfast or other meal replacers. Finally, until you have adjusted to your new braces, don't plan special steak dinners or dinners out to fancy restaurants. Also remember that stringy vegetables, such as lettuce, can catch in the brackets and be an embarrassment. Practice eating at home, before dining out, to test how well you are doing. You'll be glad you did.
Initially, your back teeth may not meet at first because your lower front teeth will be hitting the brackets on the back of the upper front teeth. This temporary distraction may seem hard to deal with but it will speed up your treatment noticeably, and will prevent you from clenching, which can dislodge brackets making it more difficult to move your teeth to correct positions.