A traditional metal brace may not have been the first orthodontic tool, but it certainly has become ubiquitous in clinical use for more than 100 years. But did you know the stealthy and discreet lingual brace has been around since the 1970s? The quest for low visual impact orthodontic treatment is nothing new. And although clear aligners and most braces are now translucent and minimalist, lingual braces have become more common with the development of better materials. This ensures that lingual braces, like Incognito Weybridge, are still available.
How do braces work?
All orthodontic treatment is based on the inherent variability of teeth. Yes, teeth move and are actually always in a state of shuffling and jostling amongst themselves, reacting to the pressure and forces of eating and sleeping. But their rate of movement is very slow and unperceivable in everyday life.
Constantly applying a force on a tooth will cause it to adopt a new location over time. Braces are one of the many orthodontic tools used to fill the role of providing consistent forces, coaxing the teeth from their current positions into better, more functional and aesthetically pleasing positions! Of course, this is done under the guidance of a qualified professional.
What makes lingual braces special?
From a strictly orthodontic perspective, very little. The repositioning of the brace on the inside of the teeth does alter the treatment process slightly, as the way the archwire tenses against each bracket is different. It also alters the fitting and removal stages, which take significantly longer due to the more awkward position behind the teeth.
What really distinguishes lingual braces from standard orthodontic tools is how subtle they are, with no part of the brace extending onto the front surface of the teeth. It can be very difficult to spot that somebody is wearing one in a public setting. This makes these braces the preferred option for adult patients who require more significant orthodontic work than can be performed using clear aligners but still wish to not have their appearance disrupted. This can be particularly important for those who take part in public speaking or corporate presentations.
Lingual braces are really seen as a premium adult orthodontic solution, and in that role, they excel. They’re not considered the standard or essential treatment and are rarely offered through the NHS.
Fabrication and fitting
Most popular braces are fabricated from off-the-shelf components, which are mixed and matched to produce a device suitable for the patient’s needs. This system reduces costs but is, unfortunately, far less useful when it comes to lingual braces. These brackets have to be as low profile as possible and close to the teeth. The archwire must be kept away from the tongue in order to reduce disruption to speech and any chances of food becoming trapped, as cleaning a brace on the inside of your teeth is much more challenging.
The brackets on lingual braces are more like cups covering the rear surface of each tooth. As such, each bracket has to be individually manufactured for the tooth that it is going to be adhered to. This increases the fabrication time but results in a very high quality, long-lasting and comfortable brace.