New and prospective patients usually begin their discussions with us by enquiring about the best system for straightening their teeth. We can honestly say that all the systems we use at the clinic work well, as we would not advocate any kind of brace that wouldn’t achieve a good result.
Most of our adult patients are looking for invisible tooth-straightening solutions. Fixed lingual braces are perhaps the most discreet, as they are concealed behind the teeth and friends and family will struggle to spot them (unless you have a habit of throwing your head back when you laugh). Meanwhile, aligners are worn over the front and back of your teeth but, because they are transparent, they are almost invisible too. The other thing the two systems have in common is that they can predispose the wearer to a lisp for a short while.
Ultimately, you decide what you want out of your orthodontic treatment and there are lots of factors to weigh in the balance. Food, physiology and finesse are three things that we tend to mention, as well as lifestyle and personality. We’ve set out the pros and cons of both fixed lingual braces and of aligner systems such as Invisalign®.
Why choose lingual braces?
Aside from discreet treatment, the main advantages of lingual braces are that they are:
- suitable for everyone
- just as effective at straightening simple problems as they are for significant dental crowding
- adjustable throughout treatment to achieve more precise results
- fixed to your teeth for the entirety of your treatment, so you don’t need to worry about removing them or potentially losing your brace.
Disadvantages on lingual braces
Some patients will find that lingual braces can be uncomfortable for the first five days or so. It is also more difficult to keep your teeth clean, meaning you must spend more time each day cleaning your teeth thoroughly. We explain what you need to do during your consultation and brace fitting, and recommend seeing a hygienist every 3-4 months during treatment to maintain the health of your teeth and gums.
Advantages of aligners
Aligners, can be removed, which means it’s easier to maintain a good oral hygiene routine and keep your teeth sparkling clean throughout your treatment. However, we’d still recommend seeing a hygienist regularly during and after the treatment process.
Aligners are designed to be comfortable, and there are no metal brackets or wires to potentially irritate the inside of your mouth. Also, for teenagers there’s an Invisalign® brace specially created, featuring wear indicators to make sure you’re wearing your aligners for long enough each day, and also allows for the eruption of permanent teeth.
Disadvantages of aligners
Aligners only work while you are wearing them and you need to wear them for a minimum of 22 hours each day. They must be removed for eating food, drinking anything apart from plain water and cleaning your teeth. So if you’re forgetful and think you may end up taking them out more than you should, then an aligner might not be right for you.
Sometimes, in order to move teeth in a certain direction, your orthodontist may need to attach small buttons to your teeth. While these are made of tooth-coloured composite, they can make your treatment less discreet. Your orthodontist will have less control of tooth movement here than with a fixed brace, which can make it difficult to achieve very precise results.
No one size fits all
Lingual braces can be more expensive than treatment with aligners, due to the cost of the appliance and the additional clinical time that is spent adjusting your brace. It’s possible to bring down the cost by wearing a lingual brace on one arch and an aligner on the other, and many patients do opt for this method.
In conclusion, if you have a busy lifestyle which might prevent you from wearing aligners 22 hours a day, and would like precise results, lingual braces are for you. On the other hand, if you don’t want to spend so much on treatment and can remember to wear your aligners 22 hours a day, aligners such as Invisalign® are the way forward.
At The London Lingual Orthodontic Clinic, we’re experts in all brace systems and can help you find the right solution for your needs. Click here to find out more about booking an in-depth consultation.