Lingual braces use brackets hidden behind the teeth, making them nearly undetectable. They are an effective solution for adult braces without the esthetics of traditional metal braces.
There are many benefits of lingual braces vs traditional braces, but the main drawback is the cost. In this article, we'll explain how lingual appliances work and the different brands available in the US, including Incognito. We'll also look at what lingual braces cost in the US and how you can lower the cost of your treatment.
You may want to look at the other options for inconspicuous teeth straightening too, for example comparing lingual braces vs Invisalign or other clear aligners. We hope this guide helps you understand more about hidden braces and whether they are right for you or your teen.
Table of contents
- 1 What are lingual braces?
- 2 Types of lingual brace
- 3 How much do lingual braces cost?
- 4 Ways to save money on hidden braces
- 5 Getting fitted with braces behind teeth
- 6 Lingual braces near me
- 7 Conclusion
- 8 FAQs
What are lingual braces?
The term ‘lingual’ relates to the tongue and the surrounding area. Lingual orthodontic appliances are placed on the back of the teeth, where the tongue rests, meaning they are hidden from plain view. Only if someone opened their mouth very wide would you notice that they were wearing these hidden braces.
This makes them ideal for people who want to straighten their teeth inconspicuously. This could be a teen who is worried about bullying or an adult who wants to maintain a professional look at work.
They are also popular for people who have a big day, such as a wedding, coming up. You can get a straighter smile without worrying about having a mouth full of metal in those all-important photos.
Braces on the backside of teeth are very versatile as they can be used to treat a wide range of misalignment and malocclusion problems.
You may hear this type of brace referred to as ‘incognito braces’. Although this is actually a brand name, it has become synonymous with lingual braces in the same way that Invisalign has for invisible teeth braces. We’ll talk more about Incognito lingual braces and other brands later on in this article.
How do they work?
In much the same way as traditional braces, lingual braces use a wire and bracket system to gradually pull teeth into the desired position. Got most types, you’ll need to visit your orthodontist every 6-8 weeks to have braces tightened and adjusted.
Some types of lingual brace use standard brackets, and some are custom-made to fit each specific tooth, like Brius braces.
Custom-made braces can speed up treatment times and give your orthodontist greater control over results. They are also more comfortable to wear as they are typically slimmer than standard brackets. They do, however, come at a higher cost due to the fact that each piece is made to order.
The wires that connect the brackets could also be customized through the use of AI technology. This will be based on the treatment plan designed by your orthodontist.
In this incredible time-lapse video you can see lingual braces before and after from both the inside and outside of the mouth:
Lingual braces pros and cons
We've already mentioned some of the main benefits of lingual braces, namely:
- Almost invisible brackets
- Can treat a wide range of cases
- Faster treatment time possible with custom lingual braces
But there are some significant drawbacks of having braces on inside of teeth to consider as well:
- Longer appointments due to the precise adjustments and custom archwire needed.
- Discomfort because of proximity to the tongue. Although patients usually adjust well, tongue ulcerations are common at first.
- Hard to clean due to the position in the mouth. Cleaning around brace brackets is tricky enough when you can see them!
- Temporary lingual braces lisp since the brackets interfere with the position of the tongue when talking.
And the lingual braces price… but we'll come to that later. First, let's look at some specific differences between lingual, traditional and invisible braces.
Lingual vs. traditional metal braces
Generally speaking, lingual braces cost more than traditional metal braces. This is especially true for those braces behind your teeth which are custom-made to fit each tooth. In addition to the manufacturing costs, they take longer to adjust at each checkup so you’re paying for more of your dentist’s time during the course of treatment. That's also why not all clinics offer the customized lingual braces system.
Lingual braces work the same way that metal braces do, except they are fixed to the backs of teeth instead of the front.
While lingual braces are generally successful in orthodontic treatment, while also being discreet, they do present some problems. The biggest issue has to do with the tongue, as it can take a long time for your tongue to get used to the braces, and may result in irritation.
Eating can be more difficult as well with lingual braces. However, for many, lingual braces are well worth the trouble for both their efficacy and their invisibility.
Dr. Yusupov, Amazing Smiles Orthodontics
There is one further benefit of lingual appliances: any damage to the teeth is less visible than with traditional braces. It's possible for fixed braces to leave some plaque residue or white spots (decalcification) on the teeth due to poor oral hygiene. If this does occur while you're wearing braces on the back of your teeth, at least the damage won't be obvious.
Lingual braces aren't usually the first option for kids' braces, but teens and even older children can wear them, provided their teeth are large enough to affix the brackets to.
Lingual braces vs. invisible braces
If you’re keen to have braces that aren’t immediately noticeable, your two main choices are hidden braces and invisible braces like Invisalign and Candid.
Invisible braces are a totally different way to straighten teeth without using any wires or brackets. Instead, they use a series of clear plastic aligners to gently guide the teeth into the desired position. You can read more about lingual braces vs Invisalign here.
Although called “invisible”, you actually can spot people wearing them if you know what to look for. Braces on the back of teeth, however, are designed to be completely hidden unless you open your mouth very wide.
There are a number of benefits to Invisalign which make them a good alternative to lingual braces:
- The aligners are removable so it's much easier to clean your teeth and braces.
- There are fewer restrictions on what you can eat or drink (as long as you clean your teeth before replacing them). Note that your teeth will be sore during the treatment, so biting hard food may be difficult.
- There are no metal parts that may hurt your tongue or cause mouth sores. However, the edges of the aligners could cut your cheeks or tongue.
- Invisalign is generally cheaper than lingual braces, and at-home options like Candid and ALIGNERCO are considerably cheaper.
At-home treatments provide mild to moderate straightening, while in-office clear aligners like Invisalign are suitable for 90% of cases. If you have very severe malocclusion, though, you may need fixed braces.
There are various brands that offer home teeth straightening treatment, but they don't all provide the same level of care and service to their customers. Have a look at some of the top brands available and see which would best suit your needs:
- Complete treatment 100% remotely
- Amazing customer service
- Nighttime-only option
- $1,395 or $83/month
NewSmile aligners are made from the clearest Essix plastic and come with a daytime or nighttime-only option to suit you. For just $1,395 you'll receive everything you need to straighten and whiten your teeth – and maintain your new smile:
- Home impression kit
- Full aligner treatment
- Free whitening
- First set of retainers
- A full refund if you're not a good fit
NewSmile go above and beyond to provide a great experience to all their customers, beginning with a live video call to help you with your teeth impressions. Mail these back, and they'll send a 3D Treatment Preview for you to approve before going ahead.
- Complete treatment 100% remotely
- 6 month average treatment time
- Nighttime-only option
- $1,145 or $95/month
If you're looking for the best value aligner package, here it is! For just $1,145 you'll get:
- Impression kit
- Full aligner treatment course
- Free teeth whitening kit
- Your first set of retainers
In short, everything needed to straighten your teeth remotely and keep them looking great, with a full money-back guarantee if you're not a suitable candidate.
This low price doesn't mean you're compromising on quality of care, though. ALIGNERCO just choose not to put so much into marketing, and they pass on the savings to their customers. They are also known for their responsive and helpful customer care, which is important when you're doing things from home.
Plus, if you're in New York, you can visit their SmileStudio for a free consultation and help taking your impressions.
Nighttime-only aligners are also available for anyone who doesn't want to wear aligners during the day.
- 3-4 month average treatment time
- Assessed and planned by orthodontists
- Includes whitening and first retainers
- $1,895 or $83/month
Byte's HyperByte technology uses High Frequency Vibration to help your teeth move faster and with minimal discomfort. Their average treatment time is just 3-4 months, compared to 6 months for most others.
Treatment includes your first set of retainers. You'll also get their BrightByte 3-in-1 foam to whiten your teeth, clean your aligners and freshen your breath. And their Byte-for-life guarantee means you'll get free adjustments if your teeth start to move again.
Begin by ordering an impression kit so their orthodontists can assess whether you're a good match.
If you're interested in clear aligners but you're not sure which brand, you can begin by just taking a quick Smile Assessment to see if you're eligible. This tool is free to use and only takes 30 seconds to complete.
In-office treatments like Invisalign are generally a little cheaper than lingual braces, but the most affordable option is a company like Candid where an orthodontist monitors your treatment remotely rather than you having to visit an office for checkups.
You may also consider clear bracket braces which, although noticeable close-up, are more subtle than traditional metal braces. They are usually more affordable than behind-teeth braces, offering a balance between cost, effectiveness, and appearance.
Here is an easy-reference comparison table for the three types of brace described above: traditional, lingual, and invisible.
Type of braces
In-office invisible aligner
At-home clear aligner
$2,500 - $7,000
Hidden behind teeth; almost unnoticeable
Hard to notice; can be removed
Hard to notice; can be removed
90% of cases
Mild to moderate cases
Typical treatment length
Require special effort to clean properly
Can be removed to clean; teeth cleaned as normal
Can be removed to clean; teeth cleaned as normal
Require special effort to clean properly
Types of lingual brace
Once you have decided this is the type of brace you want, you’ll need to choose between different brands and styles.
The brand Incognito manufactures its braces in Germany using advanced computer design technology. Each bracket is molded to fit a specific tooth and is made as flat as possible. This means there is less chance of the braces interfering with speech or causing inflammation in the mouth.
Incognito lingual braces are made from a gold alloy which heavily reduces the chances of an allergic reaction.
Incognito braces cost as much as five figures. Other brands are available for less but each has its advantages and disadvantages.
The parent company, 3M, also manufactures Incognito Lite braces. These are a more cost-effective solution for patients who only need to have their front six or eight teeth straightened – they are around half the price of a full set.
If you want to see some Incognito braces before and after pics, the following video is a really cool montage of photos from one patient's entire treatment journey.
Inbrace is another brand of braces on the back of your teeth. They align your teeth using their signature Smartwire, which moves teeth by itself using AI algorithms, and can treat everything from spacing to crowding to bite.
The Smartwire is customized to your mouth and uses gentle pressure to slowly and continuously move your teeth into an aligned position. One big benefit of Inbrace is that you can floss your teeth without the need for threaders, so maintining your oral health is easier during the process.
The cost of Inbrace is comparable to the cost of Invisalign, which can be anywhere from $3,500 to $8,500.
Self-ligating lingual systems
Hidden brace wearers can take advantage of self-ligating technology with wire that automatically adjusts itself gradually. This leads to a more comfortable experience when compared to the traditional method of tightening every few weeks.
STb Light Lingual System, produced by Ormco (the company that makes Damon braces), is one of the self-ligating options available.
For patients who want the discreetness of hidden braces but can’t afford the high price tag of custom-made brands, there are options like Forestadent braces. This system is made in Germany from standardized parts and claims to be “the flattest lingual bracket in the world”. The brackets are fixed directly behind the teeth without any expensive laboratory customization.
This cheaper style of lingual brace is best suited to patients with mild crookedness. For more complex orthodontic work, a custom-made brand will be more effective.
How much do lingual braces cost?
In straightforward cases with a standard brand, lingual braces cost around $5,000 whereas more complex treatment with a custom-made brand of braces on inside of teeth cost as much as $13,000.
Not every orthodontist is trained to carry out treatment with lingual appliances. It's usually a specialist area, and this means you're paying more for the cost of lingual braces because of the expertise required. And remember, with bespoke braces you're paying for the time and effort involved with shaping them to fit your teeth perfectly.
As with any kind of dental treatment, lingual brace prices can also vary greatly from one area to another. The prices that orthodontists charge usually correspond with the cost of living and running a business in that location. Therefore, lingual braces in big cities may cost more than in other parts of the country where rents, etc. are lower.
It’s worth looking beyond your local orthodontic clinic as you research the price of lingual braces near you. Driving a little further could save you hundreds of dollars over the course of your treatment. Do also consider that you will need regular checkups during your lingual orthodontic treatment, so you must factor in the cost and time involved with each trip to your chosen clinic.
When obtaining quotes, also check what level of aftercare is included in the price. This may or may not include follow-up visits and teeth retainers, which are needed to keep your teeth in their new position.
Aside from shopping around in your local area, there are other ways you may be able to save money on your braces.
- Mix and match: Consider getting lingual braces placed on your top arch but traditional metal braces or clear braces on the lower arch since bottom teeth are less visible when you smile.
- Consider a cheaper alternative like clear aligners: These fit over your teeth and are almost invisible. They have a number of benefits over lingual braces, as we outlined earlier, but in particular, the lower cost makes them an appealing option.
- Research different brands: We mentioned some of the better-known brands earlier, but other lesser-known brands may turn out to be more affordable. Ask different dentists which brand(s) they recommend, and why.
- Spread the cost: Ask orthodontists whether they offer payment plans that let you spread the cost of treatment. Although this won’t save you any money, it can make braces more affordable. Make sure you get a 0% interest plan, otherwise you’ll end up paying a lot more.
- Insurance plans: If you have dental insurance, it's worth checking whether your plan will cover part of the cost of orthodontic treatment. Basic plans usually only cover essential dental work, but some of the best dental insurance plans may allow to claim back some of the cost of your braces.
Getting fitted with braces behind teeth
Now let's look at what's actually involved with getting these braces fitted.
The first thing your orthodontist will do is create an impression of your teeth. This is usually done using a dental mold.
For braces that are being custom-made, your dental digital model or impressions are sent away to a laboratory where your braces are created. This process typically takes around six weeks, and then they are ready to be fitted.
Your orthodontist uses a dental cement to securely affix each brace bracket to the correct tooth. Since fitting behind the teeth braces is quite a fiddly process, it might be spread over two visits. Ask your dentist what to expect.
You'll have regular checkups every eight to twelve weeks. At these checkups, your orthodontist will check the progress of your treatment against the expected results. He or she will then make adjustments to the wire connecting your brace brackets. The continued tension on your teeth keeps them moving in the right direction.
Because hidden braces allow you a clear view of your teeth, you'll be able to notice results more quickly – often within just a few weeks of beginning treatment.
It's normal for patients to experience some discomfort when they first get braces fitted behind their teeth, but most adjust quickly. Orthodontic wax can be used to cover any parts which are irritating the tongue and paracetamol should relieve any achiness after initial fitting and subsequent adjustments.
Some patients develop a lisp after their braces are fitted but this usually disappears after a few days.
Most treatments with behind-the-teeth braces take 12-18 months, although for less complex cases it may be as quick as six months while some cases can take several years.
Lingual braces review
There are plenty of reviews of lingual braces available to read on online forums. You can also view endless video reviews on YouTube, which should give you a good idea of what to expect.
Here is one user sharing her experience with lingual braces – she has traditional metal braces on her bottom jaw so she is able to provide a good comparison of the two types.
Another reviewer reports how using orthodontic wax helped immensely with easing tongue pain at this stage. She also describes how she had a meeting with her boss, who didn't seem to notice anything different. On the second morning, she found the aching worst than the first, and she was only managing to eat soup, yogurt, and smoothies. You can follow her progress in her other videos.
In a later review, she gives some tips for managing with lingual braces. She recommends you keep on hand:
- An electric toothbrush with a special orthodontic head
- Orthodontic wax and tissues to dry your mouth before applying it
- Interdental brushes
- Mouthwash and breath freshener
- Water flosser
Finally, if you want some honest lingual brace reviews, try asking around your friends and colleagues. Since these braces are so inconspicuous, someone you know may have had them without you even realizing it!
Lingual braces near me
Wondering where you can find lingual braces in your area? It's easy to find out! Just call 800-794-7437 and you'll be connected with a lingual braces orthodontist with offices near you. All you need to do is make an appointment for a consultation, and get excited to start your journey.
Lingual braces consist of brackets fitted to the back of teeth, next to the tongue, connected by a wire. The main reason people choose these braces is so that nobody else knows they are wearing them. While they are an effective way to straighten teeth they are also fairly costly – particularly if you opt for a custom-made variety – and can be quite uncomfortable during the adjustment period, normally for the first three to four weeks of wear.
If you're looking for a cheaper alternative to lingual braces which is still almost impossible to detect, consider Invisalign, or an even more affordable option, like Candid or ALIGNERCO.
Getting lingual orthodontics or any other kind of braces is a big decision. We hope this article has helped you make up your mind about what's right for you. And if you need help finding a lingual braces provider near you, you can call 800-794-7437.
What are lingual braces?
Lingual braces feature brackets that are glued to the backs of your teeth or the ‘lingual' side. This hidden placement means that they are only visible if you open your mouth widely. Just like regular braces, lingual braces use wires to gradually align teeth.
Are lingual braces better than Invisalign?
One is not necessarily better than the other. However, lingual braces can treat more complex cases than Invisalign, meaning you can still get discreet malocclusion treatment.
National Center for Biotechnology Information: Comparison of speech performance in labial and lingual orthodontic patients: A prospective study. Consulted 15th October 2020.