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A brunette woman with red lipstick on tilting her head to the right slightly and smiling at the camera.

Several decades ago, traditional metal braces were the only option available for patients to get a beautiful, straight smile. However, the traditional take on braces changed when lingual braces were introduced. These are metal braces that go in your mouth, except they are bonded to the back of your teeth instead of the front. This option is a popular one for teens and adults, as they can hide their metal braces in their mouth as they straighten the teeth.

 

What Are Traditional Metal Braces?

Metal braces are “traditional” because the bracket-and-wire design they have has been used for decades. Before 1970, orthodontists anchored metal brackets to the center of each tooth and wound wires around the teeth to straighten them. After 1970, orthodontists continued to use metal anchorage devices (called brackets) on the front and center of each tooth.

 

A metal archwire was sufficient for straightening when it ran along the upper and lower jaws across the front of the teeth. Traditional braces use a system of archwires and brackets that are bonded to the teeth to shift them into their ideal position. When we see you at your frequent checkups, we will adjust the archwire, which will exert more pressure on your teeth, moving them in place.

 

The back molars will have metal bands that fit all the way around the back molars of the teeth. This is where the archwire will attach and be stabilized. Both top and bottom jaws will have these bands on them. The brackets on each tooth will have a rubber band around them, which are removable. They help keep your bracket hooks from catching on your mouth.

 

Close-up view of the inside of a patient's mouth with lingual braces on the teeth.

How Are Lingual Braces Different?

Lingual braces are similar to traditional metal braces. Many people don’t aesthetically like the look of metal braces, but they love their final straight smile. Metal braces are the strongest and are highly effective for achieving a beautiful smile. What can patients do if they want a straight smile but they don’t want braces front and center? Put that metal on the inside of the mouth between the teeth and the tongue!

 

Lingual braces are metal braces just like the traditional version, except that they are on the tongue-side of your teeth. However, there isn’t as much room on the back of your teeth like there is on the front of your teeth. If you notice, there is also a bit of a curve to the back of some of your teeth. That bracket-and-wire design can’t be exactly like the traditional version, but the design can be similar.

 

Using the same idea as traditional metal braces, you can achieve the same results as traditional braces, only with a hidden treatment apparatus on the tongue-side of your teeth. Patients that choose this option have impressions made of their mouth that focus on the backs of their teeth. After those impressions are sent to a special lab, metal backings for the teeth are made that are then bonded to the back of your teeth. They are almost like metal coverings for the entire tooth back, and often are silver or gold in color. These metal coverings also have small metal brackets and wires that discreetly correct bite and alignment issues over time. The concept is similar, but the design is tweaked to give lingual braces the same stability as traditional metal ones.

 

A close-up view of a woman's teeth that are beautiful and straight.

The Invention of Lingual Braces

  • The push for hidden braces first started in the 70s with celebrities and public figures that wanted straighter teeth without visible metal braces.
  • Craven Kurz and Jim Mulick were the first to develop prototypes for these braces in 1975. Craven Kurz was an orthodontist who later founded the American Lingual Orthodontic Association. Jim Mulick was the man Kurz partnered with from the UCLA School of Dentistry.
  • The first prototypes of lingual braces led to tongue irritation and bracket breaks, which were resolved by inventing an inclined plane for these braces.
  • Lingual braces are usually made of stainless steel, but they can also be made out of titanium.
  • Craven Kurz applied for a patent in 1976 and the first lingual braces were produced in 1979. Ormco was the company Kurz partnered with that eventually created 7 different generations of lingual models until the current model.
  • Each model involved changes to the orthodontic appliance including the additions of hooks and crannies, anterior and molar brackets and hooks, inclined planes, torque values, transpalatal bar hooks and a heart-shaped inclined plane.
  • There are various designs of lingual braces that will vary based on how they look and how they are attached to the teeth. We use the “Incognito” style, but you may also hear types such as “iBraces”, “In-Ovation”, “STb Light Lingual System” and “Suresmile Lingual QT”.

 

How Do You Benefit?

Getting braces at all is a major step in the right direction if you want to be successful. Studies show that people who straighten their teeth often feel more confident in themselves, and their actions become more confident. Due to social, economic or aesthetic concerns, many patients may have the desire to straighten their teeth, but they don’t want to have metal braces on their teeth. For adults with careers or active social lives, they may view traditional metal braces as something only children and teens have.

 

However, at least 1/4th of patients with braces are adults. You simply may not see those braces because they have invisible braces like lingual braces. Lingual braces can achieve the same effect as regular metal braces without being seen. For a career setting, you can keep your white smile as it slowly becomes straighter overtime. For athletes, there isn’t a worry about dental injuries, as brackets and wires won’t cut up the cheeks or gums. Those who play wind instruments will find that lingual braces are much easier to play with than traditional braces. You get both the aesthetic appeal with sturdy straightening power with lingual braces. If you would like your free consultation, call Belmar Orthodontics today at (303) 225-9016!

 

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What role does each part of braces play? The brackets, bands, wires and even our oral health guidelines all play a vital role to the health of your teeth and the success of your teeth straightening. Braces have been perfected over the years to provide you various options for teeth straightening through traditional metal braces, lingual braces, ceramic clear braces, Invisalign and more. These options weren’t available in years past, and each option has been perfected to provide you quick and efficient teeth straightening. Find out why each part of braces is important and what role each piece plays when it comes to your oral health.

 

Parts of Braces

Traditional metal braces have been around for decades. We still offer these braces because frankly, they work so well. Metal braces are also the most popular orthodontic option because they work to straighten your teeth the quickest and are the most cost-effective orthodontic option you can find. The metal we use is strong and sturdy. Metal braces are made from stainless steel, but can also be used in combination with titanium. There are three main parts of braces: the brackets, the wire, and the ligature elastics that go around the brackets:

  • Brackets – These are the small metal pieces that are bonded to each tooth center using special glue. This glue ensures that the brackets stick to your teeth. The glue is gentle enough that it can be removed once your time with braces has finished. Brackets are made of stainless steel but also can be made white (tooth colored) or clear. These brackets hold the archwire for the teeth.
  • Wire – This wire is actually known as the “archwire”. It is the metal wire that connects all of the brackets together in your mouth. You will have one archwire that is along the upper teeth and one that is along the lower teeth. This wire curves around the teeth and puts pressure on the teeth so that they come into proper alignment in the mouth. This is the main player that works to move your teeth in the right direction.
  • Ligature Elastics – These are the rubber bands that attach the archwire to the brackets on each tooth. Without these ligature elastics, the archwire would not be sturdy and couldn’t do its job.

 

Additional Parts of Braces

There are more than just these three parts of braces.

  • Headgear – This is an external appliance used in orthodontic care to help realign the face and jaw during your time with braces. There is retraction headgear and protraction headgear. Retraction headgear is an appliance used to retract the upper jaw. Protraction headgear moves the upper jaw forward and into proper alignment with the lower jaw. Headgear will consists of a single strap that fits around your neck and attaches to the front of your teeth. There is a second type of headgear that attaches to your braces, but the headgear has straps that fit over your head and neck. Not all patients will receive headgear unless it is really needed.
  • Springs – Many braces have springs to help push and pull the teeth in the right direction. These springs generally attach to the arch wires and are located between the brackets of each tooth. The purpose of the springs are to open up or close up spaces between the teeth as they shift.
  • Elastic Rubber Bands – Some patients need the additional shifting power of rubber bands to help the teeth move into place on schedule. These bands are attached to the brackets and will go from a lower tooth bracket to an upper tooth bracket. You will receive these rubber bands at your checkup and instruction for attaching your elastic bands at home until your next checkup.

 

Different Types of Braces

There are more than types of braces than just traditional metal ones. At Belmar Orthodontics we offer the following additional braces options:

  • Incognito Lingual Braces – These braces quite literally go “incognito” as they are hidden inside your mouth. You will receive the same type of treatment as traditional metal braces. However, lingual braces are a hidden treatment apparatus on the tongue-side of your teeth. The brackets and metal are attached here and straighten your teeth without anyone else knowing.
  • Invisalign – Invisalign is one of the stealthiest forms of teeth straightening. It is a series of transparent aligners customized to your teeth. You will change these aligners every 1-2 weeks until your smile is straight. They are easy to clean, easy to remove for eating and sports, and are virtually invisible in the mouth.
  • Clear Ceramic Braces – Instead of metal, these braces are made from strong ceramic. They appear very similar to metal braces but are colored to match the shade of your teeth so they blend into the mouth. Even the archwires can be made white.
  • Retainers – You will receive a retainer after your orthodontic braces treatment has been completed. Wearing your customized retainer is vital to maintaining a straight smile, as the teeth can quickly shift out of place. The first month is the most crucial as this is the time when your teeth will shift the most if a retainer isn’t worn.  

 

Your Free Consultation

Keeping the parts of braces clean will greatly enhance your experience, so following our guidelines will help you find success with your orthodontic care. Proper braces appliances and all their parts will ensure that your teeth shift into perfect alignment in the least amount of time. If you would like to learn more about braces or need to schedule your appointment, call our Belmar Orthodontics office today at (303) 225-9016!