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Are lingual braces for you?

May 23rd, 2019

Lingual braces are one of the most subtle ways to transform your smile. Because the brackets and wires are attached to the inside of your teeth, there is almost no visible sign that you are wearing braces. If this is an important consideration for you for personal or professional reasons, this advantage might make lingual braces your best choice for orthodontic treatment.

Every method of straightening teeth also presents potential disadvantages to consider. In the case of lingual braces, patients should be aware of some issues both similar to and different from those posed by regular braces.

  • Tongue Sensitivity

Just as your lip and cheek areas need to get used to typical front-facing braces, your tongue might be sensitive at first to lingual braces. The same orthodontic wax that protects your lips and mouth from irritation caused by metal brackets and wires on the front of teeth can also be used to reduce the tongue irritation caused by brackets behind your teeth.

  • Speech Difficulties

Since your tongue will not be hitting the backs of your teeth in the usual way, you might find some initial difficulty pronouncing words properly. This problem usually disappears over time. Practicing speaking aloud will help your tongue adjust to your new braces. Talk to us if this is a special concern for you.

  • Eating/Cleaning Teeth

Just as with regular braces, you will need to avoid any foods that can damage your orthodontic work. All the usual culprits, such as caramel, hard candy, and popcorn, should be avoided with any type of braces. But because lingual braces are inside the teeth, they can be trickier to clean. Careful brushing and flossing are still vital, and we have suggestions for making sure your lingual braces are free from food particles and plaque.

  • Time

Lingual braces can require a slightly longer treatment schedule. We can let you know the approximate treatment times for whatever orthodontic plans you are considering.

  • Cost

Because lingual braces are customized to fit you, they can be somewhat pricier than other options.

We have the special training and skill needed to provide you with lingual braces if that is the option that you choose. We also have suggestions for adjusting to your lingual braces comfortably and making them work for you. Talk to Dr. Melanie Parker at our San Diego, CA office about all the possibilities for straightening your teeth, including any potential concerns or advantages each treatment method presents. If you would prefer that your braces be almost unnoticeable, that advantage might be the deciding factor in making lingual braces the ideal choice for you.

Tips for Cleaning Lingual Braces

May 16th, 2019

Lingual braces are a lot like regular braces, but they have brackets and wires on the inside of the teeth instead of the outside. Why choose this type of appliance? Because lingual braces offer some benefits other braces don’t.

Lingual braces are almost invisible to the people around you. If you’re involved in a contact sport, they are much less likely to contact your lips and mouth. (But you should still wear a mouthguard!) If you play a reed or brass instrument, they won’t have as much impact on your lips, your mouth, and your performance. And, did we mention they’re almost invisible?

Just like regular braces, lingual braces require careful cleaning to protect your teeth from staining, plaque and cavities. But because the brackets are located on the inside of the teeth, making sure your teeth are their cleanest can be a bit more challenging. Here are some suggestions for making your life with lingual braces a little easier.

  • Think Small

Because you will be working on the inside of your mouth, a brush with a smaller head might be more maneuverable (and more comfortable!) in a tighter space. If you use an electric toothbrush, look for a head attachment in a smaller size or one especially designed for orthodontic appliances.

And for the tiniest spaces, use the tiniest brushes. Interdental brushes, also called interproximal brushes, can fit between your wires to clean around brackets as well as removing plaque between teeth.

  • Thread Alert

How to get that floss under the wire? Special tools called floss threaders can help get your dental floss where it needs to be. Or try one of the flosses meant for braces wearers, which offer pre-cut strands with a stiff tip at one end to thread between teeth and through wires more easily.

  • Top Picks

For removing food particles and plaque between teeth, try interdental soft picks. These have a flexible, textured pick at the tip to fit gently into smaller, tighter spaces. They are also easy to carry on the go if you aren’t able to floss.

  • Water Power

Water flossers use a pulsing stream of water to clean between and around teeth. If you find it very difficult to floss around your lingual brackets, this might be a good option. Make sure any model you choose has a seal of approval, and has been tested for safety and effectiveness.

  • Keep Current

Remember to keep up with your regular appointments at our San Diego, CA office. It’s especially important to care for your mouth and teeth while you are wearing braces.

No matter what type of appliance you use, get in the habit of cleaning your teeth and braces after every meal and snack.  You will be rewarded with a beautiful and healthy smile when your orthodontic work is completed—and that’s the greatest benefit of all!

What is a palatal expander?

May 9th, 2019

Orthodontists like Dr. Melanie Parker recommend a first orthodontic visit and evaluation for your child around the age of seven. We will evaluate your child’s jaw and facial development and make sure that there is enough room in the mouth for the permanent teeth when they arrive. One of the recommendations we might make for early treatment is the use of a palatal expander. If you are unfamiliar with this device, let’s take a closer look at why it’s necessary and what exactly it does.

Why do we recommend the palatal expander?

There are two dental arches, composed of the upper and the lower teeth, in your child’s mouth. This arch-shaped design is meant to accommodate all the permanent teeth. Further, when the upper and lower teeth meet, they should result in a healthy occlusion, or bite.

Sometimes, the upper dental arch is simply too small to accommodate all of your child’s permanent teeth, leading to crowding, extractions, and impacted teeth. Also, a too-narrow arch can result in a crossbite, where some of the upper teeth bite inside the lower ones. An improper bite can lead to problems such as TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder, improper wear and stress on teeth, certain speech difficulties, and other potential complications. The palatal expander was designed to prevent these problems from occurring.

What is a palatal expander and how does it work?

The expander itself is a device that increases the size of the upper dental arch. Before your child’s bones are finished growing, the space between the two bones of the upper palate is filled with cartilage. This tissue is flexible when children are young, but gradually fuses solidly into place by the time they are finished growing (usually in the early to mid-teens). If the arch can be widened to accommodate the emerging permanent teeth, or to reduce malocclusions, this improvement can also affect the need for, and length of, future dental work.

There are several types of expanders available at our San Diego, CA office. These are custom-made appliances, commonly attached between the upper teeth on each side of the jaw. The two halves of the device are connected with a screw-type mechanism that can be adjusted to widen the upper palate and dental arch with gentle pressure. This is a gradual process, with small adjustments usually made once or twice a day to slowly move the bones further apart. As weeks go by, you will notice a successful change in the spacing of the teeth. Your child might even develop a gap in the front teeth, which is normal and will generally close on its own.

If you would like more detailed information, talk to Dr. Melanie Parker about the palate expander. We can tell you what to expect from this treatment if we think it is best for your child’s unique needs, and how to make it as easy as possible for your child. Our goal is to provide your child with the healthiest teeth and bite possible, always making use of treatments that are both gentle and effective.

What is lingual orthodontic treatment?

May 2nd, 2019

This might be the year that you’ve absolutely decided to do something to improve your smile. Perhaps your teeth are not as straight as you would like. Perhaps your bite is a bit off. Perhaps you want the increased confidence that a beautiful smile brings. But, for any number of reasons, perhaps you don’t want to sport traditional braces for a year or two. In that case, talk to Dr. Melanie Parker about lingual braces!

What are lingual braces?

In normal braces, brackets are attached to the front of each tooth with a special dental cement, and rubber bands or clips within the brackets grip an arch wire that moves the teeth into alignment through gradual adjustments. These braces are very effective, but, even with ceramic or clear brackets, they are visible.

Lingual means “toward the tongue,” and this is the key difference between lingual braces and traditional types of orthodontic braces. With this option, brackets are custom-designed to be applied to the inside of your teeth. A precise treatment plan is designed specifically for you, and individually crafted arch wires (again, on the inside of the teeth) guide your teeth to their best alignment. The resulting braces are almost impossible to detect.

Will lingual braces work for you?

You might be a good candidate for lingual braces if:

  • You want the least visible orthodontic treatment available.
  • You don’t have a major malocclusion (bite problem). A severe overbite might not leave room for the brackets.
  • Your tooth surface is large enough for lingual brackets. Children or adults with small teeth might not be ideal candidates.

Because lingual braces are more difficult to install and adjust, orthodontists require special training and education to provide them to patients. If you think that lingual braces might be a good fit for you, talk to a member of our San Diego, CA team. We are happy to provide the information you will need to decide if lingual braces are the best option for you, and the expertise to design your custom treatment if you choose them. We want the best outcome for you and your smile, and there is absolutely no “perhaps” about that.