By Dr. John White
Smiles by White

The words “invisible braces” usually brings to mind Invisalign—and for good reason. This innovative technology is backed by more than four million treated patients and a lot of media coverage.

But before these clear, removable aligners hit the market, lingual braces offered a cosmetic alternative for those who wanted their teeth straightened without the braces showing.

Lingual braces are mounted on the backsides of the teeth (by the tongue), rather than being attached to the fronts. The best of these braces are custom manufactured to fit each tooth and are cast in gold alloy.

Lingual orthodontics is its own sub-specialty within orthodontics.

The drawback to placing braces on the backs of the teeth is that the mouth gets more crowded, particularly where the dental arch curves in the front, so it is harder to keep the teeth clean. The lingual braces, consisting of metal brackets and wires, also project out where the tongue lies, which makes them less comfortable and not speech friendly. They can even make patients have a slight lisp sound when they talk.

As with any orthodontic treatment, consult with an experienced orthodontist to weigh the pros and cons of different options for your individual case and to determine the best treatment plan. For almost all of my patients, I prefer the newer Invisalign technology.