Traditional braces are an awesome treatment option and a lot of patients love them but many older teens and adults gravitate towards under-the-radar orthodontic solutions like clear aligners. For some, it’s because they worry brackets and wires don’t look professional and for others, they just don’t want to draw attention to their smile when they’re already self conscious about it. I get that! It’s why Invisalign became so popular and has been the go-to alternative to braces for years. Now, at Jeffrey Kwong Orthodontics, we’re offering our patients another choice as well: INBRACE lingual braces. We’re one of the only INBRACE providers in Greater Sacramento!
While Invisalign aligners are virtually invisible and have plenty of perks, there was still a need not being addressed for adults who wanted the best possible esthetics, and who knew Invisalign wouldn’t be convenient for them (e.g., taking the aligners in and out when eating or drinking, wearing them a full 22 hours per day, keeping track of them, etc.). Invisalign only works if you wear the aligners as instructed. Think of it this way, if you’re the kind of person who makes a New Year’s resolution and then by April, you’re having a hard time staying committed to your resolution, clear aligners might not be the best choice from a compliance standpoint. The struggle of full-time wear is real!
When INBRACE lingual braces hit the market and I was able to gauge how well they worked, I knew it was something I wanted to incorporate into my own practice. Patients can enjoy an esthetic treatment option that stays put and doesn’t involve keeping tabs on anything.
What Are Lingual Braces?
First things first, what are lingual braces? Lingual braces, like traditional braces, consist of brackets and wires. However, they’re glued to the back of your teeth on the tongue, or lingual, side. While clear braces and Invisalign are both less noticeable than metal braces, they are visible to a certain extent. Lingual braces are the only truly invisible braces. You can’t see them at all when you smile. Someone would have to peer into your wide open mouth to get a glimpse of them, which probably (and hopefully!) isn’t happening often in your day-to-day life.
What are INBRACE Lingual Braces and How are They Different From Conventional Lingual Braces?
INBRACE lingual braces were developed at the University of Southern California in a collaboration between the orthodontic and engineering teams. The idea was to create an esthetic solution that was friction free and streamlined, as in the braces didn’t require any extras like powerchains or coil springs to get the job done. INBRACE is just that.
INBRACE brackets are extremely small and they’re paired with customized smartwires® that use light, continuous forces to move the teeth in all three dimensions from the first day of treatment (we’ll get to how that’s helpful shortly). While a few elastics are needed, for the most part, the InBraces have a locking loop design that holds the wire in place without any friction or sliding. In addition to the actual physical components, the treatment also involves in-depth digital treatment planning, which makes it super efficient and effective.
In theory, conventional lingual braces are a great idea too. Who wouldn’t want invisible braces? In practice, there were some challenges. Getting the elastics on a patient’s teeth took extra time because of the placement of the brackets and appointments were longer. Because of the time and planning involved, the lingual braces cost was significantly higher than Invisalign or traditional braces. Oral hygiene was also a challenge. If you think keeping your brackets, wires and elastics clean on the front of your teeth is tough, try doing it on the reverse side without a clear view.
INBRACE addresses these hurdles. Like I said, the brackets are much smaller than traditional lingual brackets, which makes them easier to clean. They also have loops between the teeth that allow you to floss as you normally would. No more orthodontic flossers or floss threaders. That’s a real game changer! Another big thing is the INBRACE lingual braces cost. It’s comparable to regular braces and Invisalign, making it more realistic for most patients’ budgets.
What are the Advantages of INBRACE Lingual Braces vs. Invisalign or Traditional Braces?
- Esthetics – Even though metal braces are much sleeker than they were before and the wires are thinner, they’re still the most visible form of orthodontic treatment. Clear braces do blend in with your smile but people will be able to see that you have braces on when they get up close to you. Invisalign is much more discreet than braces. The aligners are made from smooth plastic and they’re molded to fit your teeth perfectly. However, they’re not completely invisible and up close people can probably see that you have aligners in your mouth. INBRACE lingual braces are essentially invisible braces and you can’t beat them as far as esthetics. You can smile, laugh and talk and your brackets and wires will be completely hidden from view. You also don’t have to remove spit-covered aligners in front of people whenever you sit down to eat.
- Convenience – For some people, Invisalign is really convenient and they like the fact that they can remove the aligners. For others, this is actually not convenient at all. Taking the aligners out to eat and drink, being diligent about storing them in their case, remembering to put them back in after meals and snacks, and just committing to wearing them 22 hours per day can be a challenge. If you’re someone who constantly misplaces your car keys or frantically looks for your sunglasses only to be told they’re on top of your head, Invisalign can be tough. Since INBRACE brackets are bonded to your teeth, you can pretty much forget about them and go on with your life. They stay in place throughout your whole treatment and the results aren’t fully riding on compliance.
- Efficiency – Aside from esthetics, the other main advantage of INBRACE lingual braces is the efficiency. It starts with digital planning upfront. I plan out your case and I’m able to see the end results before we even get started. This way, I can program movements and predict challenges in your bite that I couldn’t have before. The smartwires are called that for a few reasons. First, they’re programmed with the end in mind. That means these wires were made to begin shifting your teeth towards their final positions right from the beginning. With traditional braces, there is staging and sequencing. We don’t do that with INBRACE since we’re able to determine the shortest path for each tooth to move from the get-go.
Another reason the wires are called smartwires is because they not only straighten rotations, they can also open and close spaces and work on the angulation of the teeth. Marketing claims of a treatment being X times faster is misleading. It’s kind of like when they say a razor is better because it has one extra blade. When companies say it will be 2x, 6x or 10x faster, how is that even possible? Teeth don’t know whether it’s plastic or metal that is putting pressure on them to straighten them. That being said, INBRACE could potentially shorten treatment time a bit as compared to Invisalign or traditional braces because of the mechanical efficiencies. The end movements are programmed into the wires instead of us having to bend them manually or instead of the aligners having to make space first. This allows us to take a more direct path to your final results and, in some cases, provide better outcomes.
- Oral Hygiene – One thing that really made Invisalign shine compared to conventional lingual, metal and clear braces is the fact that it doesn’t interfere with your oral hygiene routine. Even adults who didn’t necessarily find removing the aligners to eat convenient did like being able to take them out to brush and floss. The INBRACE design lets you floss between the teeth and the brackets are so small, you won’t face the same oral hygiene challenges as you would with regular braces. Nonetheless, you will find yourself cleaning much more often (just as if you were to get braces or Invisalign).
What are the Disadvantages of INBRACE braces?
Let’s be real. There isn’t a silver bullet for crooked teeth. Every appliance has its challenges too. The disadvantage of INBRACE is that it takes about two to three weeks to get used to it because the brackets are on the tongue side. It can be scratchy and your speech can temporarily be changed. However, once you get used to having the braces in your mouth, you’ll forget they’re even there and your speech will go back to normal. The other drawback when comparing it to Invisalign is that you’ll have some of the same food restrictions you would have with metal braces or clear braces. You’ll want to stay away from really hard, sticky and chewy foods throughout your treatment.
Now that you’re well versed in the pros and cons, are you interested in El Dorado Hills INBRACE lingual braces treatment? Schedule a free consultation at Jeffrey Kwong Orthodontics to learn more!