Lingual Braces or Clear Aligners: Which is right for you?

Lingual Braces or Clear Aligners: Which Is Right for You?

Thanks to modern innovations, straightening your teeth has never been easier, faster, or more discreet. Two of the most popular options? Lingual braces (which go behind your teeth) and clear aligners (like Invisalign ®). While both deliver impressive results, they offer different patient experiences. So how do you know which is right for you?

Lingual Braces vs Clear Aligners: Which is Better?

The choice between lingual braces and clear aligners is personal, and depends on your priorities and preferences. Here’s an overview of both options to help you decide which is right for you.

What are lingual braces?

Lingual braces attach to the back of your teeth, by your tongue (hence the name: “lingual” means “related to the tongue”). At Tend, our specially-developed, hassle-free lingual braces are called Breezy Braces ®.

How lingual braces work

Lingual braces work similarly to traditional metal braces, except they attach to the back of your teeth, making them completely invisible.
Tend’s Breezy Braces ® have another special feature. Unlike traditional braces, which rely on painful wire tightening to adjust your teeth, Breezy Braces are made with a shape memory wire which slowly straightens itself, aligning your teeth as it moves.

Advantages of lingual braces

Truly invisible: If you’re looking for the most discreet option out there, lingual braces are it. Because the brackets attach to the back of your teeth, they’re impossible to see from the front.
Hassle-free: No need to worry about removing lingual braces to eat or drink: once they’ve been attached, you can pretty much forget about them.
Effective: Lingual braces align your teeth as effectively as traditional metal braces. While there are some conditions that clear aligners cannot treat (severe misalignment or overbites, for example), lingual braces work for virtually every mouth.

Disadvantages of lingual braces

Comfort: Any orthodontic product has an initial adjustment period. For the first few weeks after getting your lingual braces, you may notice some discomfort; you may also have to get used to speaking with your lingual braces. Fortunately, this is temporary—soon you’ll forget that your lingual braces are even there.
Oral care: Because of their position on the back of your teeth, it can be challenging to effectively brush around your lingual braces. You’ll also want to avoid foods that are especially hard or sticky, as these can damage the wires and brackets.
Cost & availability: Not all orthodontists offer lingual braces. They’re also trickier to attach, which can make them more costly than other orthodontic products.
The good news? Thanks to our special pricing and flexible payment options, Tend’s Breezy Braces are more affordable than you’d think.

What are clear aligners (Invisalign ®)?

Clear aligners are transparent plastic trays, custom-made to fit snugly over your teeth. These removable trays slowly adjust your smile over time.

There’s many different brands of clear aligners—At Tend, we offer Invisalign ®, the industry leader for over twenty five years.

How clear aligners work

Invisalign ® treatment consists of a series of clear, medical-grade plastic trays designed to fit over your teeth. You’ll wear each pair of trays for approximately two weeks before switching to the next one. Each pair is designed to adjust your teeth closer to your final smile goal.

Advantages of clear aligners

Completely removable: Many patients love the ability to remove their clear aligners for a photo or special occasion. And since you’ll take them out before eating or drinking, there are no food restrictions with clear aligners.
Speed and comfort: All orthodontic products involve an adjustment period, but many patients find the adjustment to clear aligners is faster than other options. There may also be fewer speech disruptions. And although clear aligners move your teeth more gently than metal braces, they tend to take the same amount of time overall.
Cost: Clear aligners cost about the same as traditional metal braces, and are less expensive than lingual braces. (Plus, thanks to flexible payment options at Tend, they may be even more affordable than you’d think!)

Disadvantages of clear aligners

Responsibility: Unlike lingual braces or traditional braces, you’ll take your clear aligners out throughout the day—to eat, drink, and brush your teeth, for example. Since they must be worn 22 hours a day in order to work effectively, it’s critical that you’re diligent about wearing them consistently. If not, you may not get the results you want.
Visibility: Although clear aligners are fully transparent, they may still be noticeable to someone close by. Fortunately, they can be removed for photos, job interviews, or other special occasions.
Not for every mouth: Although clear aligners can treat up to 90% of alignment issues, there are certain things they can’t treat—severe overcrowding or severe bite issues, for example. An orthodontist can tell you if you’re a good candidate for clear aligners.

How do lingual braces compare to clear aligners?

Although lingual braces and clear aligners produce the same results—a straighter, more beautiful smile—they achieve those results in different ways. Here are some of the main differences.

Appearance - which is less visible?

Both clear aligners and lingual braces are great options for those looking for a discreet way to straighten their teeth. That said, clear aligners may be noticeable to someone nearby, while lingual braces are invisible even at close range.

Which moves your teeth more effectively?

Both options can produce effective results, but since clear aligners are dependent on patient responsibility (you have to wear them 22 hours a day), they are considered slightly less effective. If you’re concerned about your ability to wear clear aligners consistently, lingual braces may be a better choice for you.

Do clear aligners work faster than lingual braces?

For most alignment issues, clear aligners and lingual braces take about the same amount of time to straighten teeth.

Pricing and availability

Because lingual braces can be more difficult to attach, not all orthodontists offer them. They may also be more expensive than traditional braces or clear aligners.
By contrast, clear aligners are more widely available, and generally more affordable than lingual braces. A dentist-led option like Invisalign ® will ensure you get the results you want.

Does insurance cover clear aligners?

Yes, some insurances offer coverage for clear aligners like Invisalign ®, or other orthodontic options like lingual braces! (Not sure if yours does? Tend’s insurance experts can check your coverage options.)

How does the patient experience compare?

Lingual braces like Tend’s Breezy Braces ® offer a hands-off experience. Besides coming in for your visits and brushing well around your braces, there’s nothing to do except enjoy your straighter smile.
After your orthodontist attaches them, it may take a few weeks to get used to the feel of lingual braces. You’ll also have to avoid especially hard or sticky foods for as long as your lingual braces are attached.
On the other hand, Invisalign ® aligners need to be worn consistently in order to work effectively. Your treatment may be delayed if you don’t wear your aligner trays for 22 hours a day. You’ll have to be diligent about taking them out and replacing them after eating, drinking, and brushing.
Because you take them out to eat, there’s no food restrictions with Invisalign aligners. You may also experience less initial discomfort than you would with metal braces.

So which should you choose: lingual braces or clear aligners?

Every mouth is different. The choice between lingual braces and clear aligners is a personal one, which depends on several factors.

Who should choose Invisalign®?

If you have mild to moderate alignment issues and want a completely removable option that lets you eat whatever you’d like, Invisalign ® might be a good fit for you. If you feel confident in your ability to consistently wear your clear aligners, consider Invisalign ®.

Who should choose lingual braces?

If you have mild to severe alignment issues and want a totally hands-off, totally invisible orthodontic experience, lingual braces might be a good fit for you. If you don’t mind avoiding very hard and sticky foods and are prepared for an initial adjustment period, consider Breezy Braces ®.

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Dr. Chris Salierno is Tend’s Chief Dental Officer. A native New Yorker, Dr. Chris graduated from Stony Brook School of Dental Medicine, where he also completed his residency. He started his own practice on Long Island and went on to become an educator, international lecturer, and the Chief Editor of Dental Economics.