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If you’re thinking about straightening your teeth, you’ve probably realised that there’s more than one way to go about it.
Lingual braces and veneers are both discreet ways to align teeth. However, their similarities end here.
What are lingual braces?
Lingual braces are much like traditional braces in many ways. They move teeth using metal brackets and wires. The big difference is that they’re attached behind the teeth, so they’re essentially invisible.
Orthodontic treatment can take months, even years – so lingual braces aren’t a quick fix. The pay-off is that you get long-lasting results (providing you wear your retainers) and a natural smile that’s all yours.
The pros of lingual braces
- Lingual braces straighten teeth without causing any irreversible damage to your enamel (your teeth’s protective layer).
- They can achieve natural results, but if you’re looking for more of an impact, teeth whitening can provide a great finishing touch.
- The results of lingual braces can be maintained indefinitely with the help of fixed and/or removable retainers.
- Unlike conventional braces, lingual braces are very inconspicuous. We won’t go as far as to say they’re undetectable, but they’re not far off.
- Straight teeth are easier to keep clean, helping you to maintain a healthier smile post treatment.
The cons of lingual braces
- Good things come to those who wait, and you might need to wait months, or even a year or two to see your final result.
- Lingual braces can take a week or two to get used to, and you may find they irritate your tongue or cause a slight lisp during these early days.
- To maintain your results, you have to wear your retainers, otherwise your teeth are likely to move.
- Lingual braces won’t change the shape or colour of your teeth, so if your teeth aren’t in great shape you won’t achieve a ‘Hollywood smile’ with braces alone.
- During your treatment, you’ll need to see your orthodontist approximately every eight weeks, so they can adjust your brace and review your progress.
What are veneers?
Veneers work by disguising your natural teeth behind a ‘perfect’ façade. They consist of a thin layer of porcelain, which is fitted to the front surface of your tooth, covering any imperfections in the process.
Treatment can usually be completed within just a few weeks. Your veneers will be custom-made in a shape and colour to suit you and then carefully cemented to the front surfaces of your teeth.
To ensure a good result and a secure fit, your dentist will usually need to remove a small amount of your teeth’s enamel before attaching your veneers. This process is irreversible, and you’ll forever be reliant on veneers.
The pros of veneers
- Veneers can look fantastic and you can align teeth and improve their shape and colour all at the same time.
- The whole process can be completed within a few weeks and involves just a handful of trips to the dentist.
- Depending on the number of teeth that need treating, veneers can be more affordable than lingual braces.
- If your teeth are weak and damaged, veneers can strengthen and protect them, as well as improve their appearance.
- There’s no downtime and once your veneers have been fitted you can carry on as normal.
The cons of veneers
- Veneers are destructive, and the enamel that’s removed to fit them won’t grow back.
- If your teeth are very crooked, more enamel may need to be removed to create a uniform look.
- Because you’re removing some of your teeth’s protective layer, they may become more sensitive to hot and cold.
- Veneers aren’t a permanent solution and will need replacing every 10 to 15 years. This can make them an expensive option in the long run.
- They can occasionally fall off, and if you grind your teeth, you run the risk of breaking your veneers.
- While porcelain looks extremely natural, cheaper materials may not look so good.
- Veneers can’t be whitened, so if the colour of your natural teeth changes over time, your veneers could start to stand out.
Which option is right for you?
Every individual is different, so there’s no conclusive answer to this question. However, if your teeth are in good condition and simply need aligning, braces will most likely be your best option. Whereas if your teeth are damaged, severely discoloured or misshapen, veneers could be more appropriate.
Another option is a combination of both treatments. Your orthodontist can move your teeth into the perfect position for a cosmetic dentist to fit veneers, minimising any damage to your enamel.
A less invasive alternative to veneers is dental bonding, which involves reshaping teeth using tooth-coloured composite. It’s more affordable than veneers and ideal for making subtle improvements to the shape of your teeth following braces. Best of all, it’s completely reversible.
We recommend discussing all your options with a specialist orthodontist and a cosmetic dentist. They’ll have the expertise and hands-on experience to provide all the information you need to make the right choice for you.