It has been said that once someone has looked into your eyes, the next feature they focus on is your mouth and teeth.  Thus we can assume your pearly whites are pretty important when it comes to making a good first impression.  Especially for adults, the invisibility of Lingual Braces can be important in work and social situations.

Lingual Braces are pretty much the same as traditional braces and function in exactly the same way, but there is a major, aesthetic difference – people won’t see a shiny, metal smile, often called “train tracks.” Before technological advances in teeth straightening, braces could only be fitted one way — smack-dab on the front of the teeth.  Lingual Braces, on the other hand, are fitted to the back of your teeth, so they’re sometimes called “inside” braces.  While they work just as effectively (and do exactly the same job), most of the heavy-duty metal work is concealed, and this makes them the most invisible type of braces.

Some of the newest lingual brackets are self-ligating — the bracket itself traps and holds the archwire instead of being bound in place with elastic bands.  This feature helps to make for fewer dental appointments that are simpler and quicker, and also makes cleaning easier.

There are two really big advantages with lingual braces: 1) it allows the dentist more control over tooth movements, and 2) the issue of patient compliance is never a problem (unlike removable aligners that might be misplaced or not worn).  Like all types of braces, this product works by applying gentle yet continuous pressure on the teeth, to help them slowly shift into proper position. Two things can impact the length of the treatment (anywhere from 18-36 months):  1) the severity of a patient’s overcrowding of teeth, and 2) their bite.

They are more difficult to adjust to for some people, however, because your tongue won’t be able to stay away from them, and this can cause soreness.  Over time, perhaps several weeks, your tongue should “toughen up” and adapt.  Also, people find, at least initially, that the most severe problem is that speech is more difficult, experiencing a new lisp or whistling sound because your tongue needs to make contact with the backside of your upper front teeth when it makes certain sounds, and it will take a while for your tongue to find another location it can use that produces similar results.

Design improvements are continually on the drawing board to make the issues of tongue irritation and speech difficulty less troublesome.

  • Smaller brackets:  New low-profile brackets are 1.5mm thick whereas older-style ones may be more than twice that thick.
  • Bracket contours:  They are now made more rounded and smoother.

Other problems are with eating because some foods will tend to become trapped in the braces, just like with traditional metal braces.  The same foods should be avoided in both cases:  crunchy, hard, sticky and especially chewy foods.  And if you cut your food into small pieces, you’ll probably have fewer problems.  It’s better to stick to soft foods like rice, pasta, fish, cooked vegetables, soft bread, etc.

Again, like traditional braces, wearing lingual braces will make it more difficult to brush and floss your teeth.  But it is vitally important to clean teeth and braces after every meal and snack.  In addition, professional dental cleanings are recommended every six months – they are critical to maintaining a patient’s oral health when wearing braces.

There are approximately 4.5 million people in the United States currently wearing some type of teeth straightening appliance to keep their mouth beautiful, and as much as 25 percent of them are adults.  The way to find out if you might be a candidate for lingual braces is to have a consultation with an orthodontist.  However, most adults and adolescents do qualify.

If you are interested in lingual braces in Costa Rica, fill out the “Find a Dentist” form on this page.  One of our patient advocates will reply to your needs.