If you're like many dental patients, the image that comes to mind when you think of braces is that of a person with metal brackets on the outsides of their teeth. But while this is the most common type of braces, it is not the only one. Another style of braces known as lingual braces may be an equally suitable -- or even better -- option if you need your teeth straightened.
What are lingual braces?
The term "lingual" means "on the side of the tongue." So lingual braces are braces that are placed on the inside, tongue side of the teeth. They are shaped much like regular braces and are similarly held together by wires. They work in a similar manner to standard braces, pushing and pulling the teeth into more desirable positions over the course of several months or a couple of years.
What are the advantages of lingual braces?
The main advantage of lingual braces is that they're not as obvious. While someone will be able to see them if they look closely at your mouth while it is open, you can typically have a conversation with someone and go about your daily life without anyone noticing that you have braces. This can't be said for standard braces, which are obvious the second you smile.
Lingual braces are also better at correcting certain dental misalignments than standard braces. For instance, if you have an underbite, this style of braces may be better at pushing the teeth outward.
Lingual braces also tend to cause less irritation than traditional braces. They don't rub on the insides of your cheeks. Though they can cause some tongue irritation, you can mostly avoid this if you're able to resist playing with the braces with your tongue.
What are the disadvantages of lingual braces?
Lingual braces are not always effective for the most serious of dental misalignments. If you have a serious overbite, they may not work for you. Or, your dentist may recommend that you have standard braces for a few months before you switch to lingual braces. The other disadvantage is that they can be a bit harder to adapt to than regular braces. Especially when you have them on the top teeth, they can get in the way of your ability to make certain sounds since you won't be able to place your tongue flat against your top teeth.
To learn more about lingual braces and to find out if they'll correct your dental misalignment, schedule an appointment with your dentist.