Expert Doctor

Lingual Braces

Mahtab Partovi, MD

Los Angeles, CA

Lingual Braces

Lingual braces are an “invisible braces” treatment where the braces are placed on the lingual side of the teeth. The lingual side is the backside of the teeth where the tongue lies. They look like conventional dental braces but, by being placed on the backside of the teeth, they are hidden from the view of others. This makes the lingual braces unnoticeable to others. Lingual braces are bonded to the teeth just like traditional braces. Lingual braces are not to be confused with Invisalign because Invisalign is a clear tray which must be taken on and off. With lingual braces, a patient does not have to worry about removing a tray. Since lingual braces are completely on the other side of the teeth, meaning the front surface of the tooth has nothing on it, these braces are truly invisible. Traditional clear braces are not really clear or invisible. They can still be seen on the outside of the mouth. Clear braces are simply less conspicuous than metal braces. Lingual braces are a good option for patients that don’t want anyone to see they are getting a treatment for their teeth.  

Am I a Candidate for Lingual Braces?

People that are GOOD CANDIDATES for lingual braces are:

  • A person who doesn’t want others to know he, or she, is wearing braces
  • Someone who doesn't want to take a tray in and out of their mouth on a daily basis
  • A patient with healthy periodontal tissues and healthy gums

People who are NOT GOOD CANDIDATES include:

  • A person with a deep overbite because the overbite might put too much pressure on the brackets of the braces and cause them to fall off
  • Someone with gum disease or other dental issues that should be addressed before the placement of lingual braces
  • A patient who is not willing to properly brush and floss the braces to keep them clean and in good condition

How is Lingual Braces Performed?

In the past, orthodontists would have to take impressions or molds of a patient's teeth. Thanks to current technology, orthodontists no longer need to resort to that method. The patient comes to the office where the orthodontist simply scans the teeth. The scan is then sent to a company to make a custom set of lingual braces.

It takes about two weeks to design the braces and send the set back to the dentist. When the patient comes back into the office, the braces are then bonded onto the patient's inner teeth. The orthodontist will carefully attach an arch wire to the brackets in order to produce enough tension to pull the teeth into the desired position. The bonding process only takes about an hour and the patient can resume their regular activities with only some eating restrictions as the teeth adjust to wearing the braces.

The treatment plan for each individual depends on the specific issues of the patient. For example, a patient's teeth might be slightly crooked or severely crooked. They might have small spaces between their teeth or large gaps. Depending on how severe any issues might be, some patients will need braces for six months while others will need to wear them for two years.

Alternative Treatments

Invisalign, also known as invisible braces, are a series of clear aligners changed out every 14 days by a patient. Each plastic aligner moves the teeth a little closer to the end result desired by the person. After 14 days, all of the movement a patient gets from one tray will be complete so it is time to move on to the next tray. The invisible aligner trays are made of a smooth and clear plastic worn over the teeth. Unlike lingual braces, these trays can be removed by the patient while eating and drinking.

Metal braces are also known as the more traditional form of braces. While they are made of metal, and are still easily seen when worn by patients, modern brackets are smaller and less noticeable than metal braces of the past. They do have an advantage over Invisalign in that patients do not need to worry about misplacing their aligners after removing them.

What is the Cost of Lingual Braces?

In general, lingual braces cost $7000-$10,000 for the entire treatment. The price varies according to any fees charged by the doctor as well as the geographic location of the treatment. The price can also increase if anything happens to damage the braces and they need to be repaired.

Recovery and Downtime

There is not much in the way of DOWNTIME when a person gets lingual braces. It might take a few weeks for the patient to get used to the position of the braces in the mouth. This can cause some temporary issues with eating or speaking.  The tongue might also be sore for a few weeks since it will naturally want to run across the new braces in the mouth.

Once all of the teeth are in their desired position, patients are finished with the lingual braces. There is no RECOVERY time after they are removed from the teeth. Patients can wear retainers, for an amount of time to be determined by the dentist, because the teeth will want to move back to their original position. The retainers hold them in their final position long enough for the bone to fill in around them and the ligaments to reset.


The teeth are monitored by the dentist during the entire process of wearing lingual braces to make sure the movement of the teeth is proceeding according to plan. It can take a year or two for the final results to occur depending on the amount of time the dentist determines the braces need to be worn by the patient. Once the braces are removed, the final results will be immediately visible.

Limitations of Lingual Braces

Some of the limitations of wearing lingual braces are:

  • Patients should avoid eating crunchy foods such as nuts, popcorn and ice so they don’t damage the braces
  • The patient is limited in the amount he, or she, can keep the braces clean since they are placed on the backside of the teeth
  • The amount of comfort while eating or speaking may be limited for the first few weeks after having the braces placed

Risks of Lingual Braces

Some of the common risks associated with lingual braces include:

  • Discomfort
  • Irritation of the tongue
  • Trouble speaking
  • Difficulty eating
  • Improper brushing and cleaning
  • Broken brackets

The Decision is Up to the Patient

Both traditional braces and lingual braces take the same amount of time to correct the issue of crooked teeth. Since neither one is a quicker choice than the other, the choice of which braces to wear is really just a matter of what the patient wants. If a patient wants a truly invisible treatment, and does not want to take a tray in and out of the mouth, lingual braces are a better fit for them. Patients should consult with a board-certified orthodontist to make sure they offer lingual braces in their practice.


Written by Cosmetic Town Editorial Team - MA

Based on an exclusive interview with Mahtab Partovi, DDS in Los Angeles, CA