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What are Lingual Braces: Are They Better Than Invisalign?

Haleigh Pouliot

Written by Haleigh Pouliot

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If you’re embarrassed by having a mouth full of crooked teeth, then braces will give you a more attractive smile. But the irony is that braces are so visible, they advertise the fact that your teeth need serious help.

Wearing metal braces could open you up to some unsolicited comments on your appearance or personal health care choices. Braces might negatively impact your professional image.

Or perhaps you just feel that metal braces won’t look good on you.

Whatever the case may be, it’s totally normal if you wish you could magically straighten your teeth overnight without letting the entire world know.

And fortunately, you’ve got plenty of teeth straightening options to choose from.

The teeth straightening industry now offers several types of braces for adults.

The two most discreet methods are Invisalign and lingual braces.

What Are Lingual Braces?

While just about everyone has heard of Invisalign braces, lingual braces aren’t as well known.

Lingual is a medical term that means “pertaining to the tongue.” So the lingual surface of your teeth is the inner aspect, the side that touches your tongue.

Thus, getting lingual braces means getting a brace on the back of your teeth instead of on the front.

Lingual braces are far from simple, however.

what are lingual braces

They are actually more complicated than traditional braces. It usually takes more time and skill for an orthodontist to place braces inside your teeth. These braces can also be more difficult for you to clean around.

On the plus side, lingual braces are just about the closest you can get to having “invisible” braces since nothing will show when you smile. Some lingual braces brands even have custom-shaped brackets that lay more smoothly against your teeth than regular brackets.

Lingual braces are also sometimes referred to as “incognito braces” or even “nano braces” because they are ultra-discreet and use the latest orthodontic technology.

The Differences Between Lingual Braces vs Invisalign

Let’s now compare lingual braces with Invisalign clear aligners.

How The Treatment Works

What’s the same: Invisalign and lingual braces both achieve straighter smiles by gradually moving teeth.

What’s different: Invisalign and lingual braces use other methods to straighten teeth.

You get results with Invisalign by changing out your removable aligner trays every couple of weeks. Each new set fits your teeth more tightly than the last set and keeps the pressure on them until they move to fit the tray.

Lingual braces, on the other hand, are securely bonded to your teeth and connected by a wire. Your orthodontist tightens this wire periodically to help your teeth move.

Although, both treatments may be uncomfortable to wear. But don’t worry, lingual braces and Invisalign pain will last only a couple of days after changing trays or tighten the wires.

Incognito Braces vs Invisalign: Aesthetics

What’s the same: Both lingual braces and Invisalign are discreet orthodontic solutions. No one would notice your aligners or braces unless you told them you were wearing them.

What’s different: Invisalign aligners are so clear that they’re practically invisible, but someone could still see them if they looked at your teeth real closely. Lingual braces, however, are not noticeable from the outside of your smile.

When you have braces attached to the insides of your teeth, they’re only visible if you open your mouth wide to yawn or laugh.

Ultimately, incognito braces take the title for the most “invisible” type of braces on the market, but as they’re not removable, sometimes can be tricky to maintain good oral hygiene. 

lingual braces aesthetics
invisalign aesthetics

Dental Visits

What’s the same: Both treatments require you to see your dentist or orthodontist once every four to eight weeks.

After placing braces behind teeth, an orthodontist needs to adjust them regularly. It’s similar to Invisalign. Although all of the Invisalign trays are made at the start of treatment, regular checkups are still necessary to ensure everything is going according to plan.

What’s different: Invisalign checkup appointments last mere minutes while getting lingual braces adjusted can take about half an hour.

At Invisalign checkups, the Invisalign doctor just needs to check the fit of your trays. But tightening braces takes a bit longer.

Invisalign appointments also are more frequent, whereas there is usually more time between orthodontic adjustments for lingual braces.

Qualifying for Treatment

What’s the same: You need to have healthy teeth before getting either Invisalign or lingual braces. If you have any teeth that are decayed, damaged, or weakened by gum disease, then you need to get them treated before starting a course of orthodontic treatment.

Additionally, you must be prepared to take good care of your teeth while having treatment with either Invisalign or lingual braces. You need to know how to clean Invisalign aligners or clean around wires and brackets to keep your teeth healthy throughout the course of your treatment.

What’s different: Invisalign works well for people who only need to move a few teeth quickly. Clear aligners can get results fast, but they don’t work in every case. Lingual braces are more likely to get you results if you have a complex tooth alignment problem.

lingual braces and invisalign

Incognito Braces vs Invisalign Treatment Time

Over all, the treatment times for Invisalign and lingual braces are similar. Your case’s complexity is the crucial factor that determines how long you’ll need treatment no matter which method you choose.

Lingual (incognito) braces: Lingual braces are suitable for most orthodontic cases, and most treatment cases take about 6 to 18 months to correct.

Invisalign: Treatment time varies from 3 to 18 months. How long you need to wear Invisalign trays depends on what your treatment needs are. While braces can treat more complex cases than Invisalign can, clear aligners are perfect for correcting minor tooth alignment issues.

If you need to straighten only one or two teeth with Invisalign, your treatment should go by quickly.

Lingual Braces vs Invisalign Cost

How do lingual braces and Invisalign aligners compare in terms of cost?

The average cost of Invisalign ranges from $3,500 to $8,000. While lingual braces cost about $8,000 to $10,000.

Lingual braces are more expensive than Invisalign. But the cost of orthodontic treatment depends on the length of your treatment. And that depends on the complexity of your case.

So it is possible to pay more for your Invisalign treatment than someone else paid for lingual braces if you need many more months of treatment.

Orthodontic treatment prices also vary by geographic location and may even reflect the skill of the provider.

If you’re interested in Invisalign for adults or some other low-visibility orthodontic treatment, get started by asking some local orthodontists for a quote.

Is Invisalign Cheaper Than Braces?

Invisalign treatment costs about the same as traditional braces.

The skill required to place lingual braces, however, puts them in a higher price bracket.

Even if Invisalign aligners are cheaper than getting braces put on the insides of your teeth, they aren’t the cheapest teeth aligners.

You could save money and get straighter teeth and enjoy wearing “invisible” braces by trying one of these mail-order teeth aligners.

Lingual Braces: The Pros and Cons

Are you thinking about getting braces inside your teeth?

Just like the best teeth aligners, lingual braces have both advantages and disadvantages.

Consider these carefully and discuss them with your dentist before deciding whether to get lingual braces.

Pros of lingual braces
  • Not visible when you smile
  • Brackets can be custom-fitted to your teeth
  • Work just as well as regular braces
  • Your orthodontist can make more precise corrections to your tooth alignment
  • No marks left on the outsides of your teeth after treatment
  • Suitable for all ages
  • Can correct all types of orthodontic issues
Cons of lingual braces
  • Placement often requires more skill on the part of the orthodontist
  • More expensive than other types of braces
  • Difficult to clean around
  • Orthodontic checkups take longer
  • May temporarily affect your speech until you get used to them
  • Limit your food options

For the sake of comparison, here’s a brief list of the pros and cons of Invisalign:

Pros of invisalign
  • Not visible when you smile
  • Easy cleaning, so it's easier to maintain a good oral hygiene
  • No metal parts to irritate your tongue or impact your speech
Cons of invisalign
  • Not advisable for all orthodontic cases
  • You have to remember to wear the trays consistently every day
  • Still slightly visible if someone were to take a close look at your smile
  • Orthodontist has less control over the outcome
  • Invisalign pain can be uncomfortable

Lingual Braces vs Invisalign: Which Is Best?

Fixed lingual braces are an excellent choice if you think you could easily misplace your Invisalign retainers. Clear aligners might suit your lifestyle better if you need a removable orthodontic appliance.

There is no distinct winner here. Both lingual braces and Invisalign aligners are fantastic solutions for anyone who wants straighter teeth without the look of classic metal braces.

Do you want some more information before deciding? Check out this guide on braces vs Invisalign.

lingual braces better than invisalign
invisalign better than braces

Your dentist or local orthodontist is your best resource. He or she can examine your teeth, answer your questions, and recommend the treatment that’s best for you.

Have you ever had orthodontic treatment with regular braces, lingual braces, or Invisalign?

Share your experience with us in the comment section below!

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