Metal Braces vs Lingual Braces: A Complete Comparison

Deciding between metal braces and lingual braces for teeth straightening? Lingual braces aren’t as widespread as the popular metal braces, but they do have their perks. So how do you choose?

Both metal and lingual braces are effective in straightening teeth. The choice between the two depends on personal preferences and budget. Metal braces are more affordable and widely available, while lingual braces are truly invisible and better suited for those concerned about aesthetics.

In this article, we’re going to go over the deciding factors when choosing between the two types of braces. We’ll cover cost, effectiveness, comfort, hygiene, and much more.

Key Takeaways

  • Lingual braces are hidden behind the teeth. They offer a more aesthetic alternative to traditional metal braces.
  • Both options effectively correct teeth alignment and bite. However, lingual braces can be more expensive and need a period of adjustment.
  • You should consider esthetics, comfort, and budget when deciding between metal and lingual braces.

Metal Braces Vs. Lingual Braces: How They Work

YouTube video

When deciding between metal and lingual braces, it’s essential to understand how they work. With either option, your teeth will gently straighten through the consistent pressure of brackets and wires.

Metal braces are the most traditional type of orthodontic treatment and have been around for decades. Metal braces are attached to the front of your teeth and involve brackets, wires, and elastic bands.

Traditional braces are generally the most affordable option and are popular among teenagers. Adults often choose them as well because of their effectiveness. Thanks to modern advancements, today’s metal braces are smaller and less noticeable than they used to be, so don’t be put off by their appearance.

Lingual braces, such as the Incognito braces, serve the same purpose as metal braces but are placed behind your teeth. Lingual braces face your tongue, making them the only truly invisible option.

Lingual braces consist of either stock or custom-made brackets and wires that are individually shaped to fit each tooth. Although lingual braces offer discretion, they typically have a higher cost. They also need to be used by an orthodontist with specialized training in this area.

Metal BracesLingual Braces
Visible on the front of teeth, but customizable with colorsHidden behind teeth, invisible
More affordableHigher cost
Smaller, modern designCustom-made for each tooth
Popular among kids and teenagersDiscreet for adults
No speech impedimentMay cause a lisp
Can break when eating the wrong foodsHarder to clean and maintain
Metal Braces vs. Lingual Braces: a comparison

Esthetics and Comfort of Metal vs. Lingual Braces


When comparing metal and lingual braces, you might find that lingual braces can be more uncomfortable initially. This is because the brackets and hooks are placed on the side facing your tongue, which can take some time to get used to.

However, the level of discomfort depends on the brand and how sharp the hooks and brackets are. The same can be said about metal braces. Some have a more rounded and comfortable profile compared to others.

In my practice, I’ve seen patients adjust to lingual braces within a few weeks. With both options, the discomfort diminishes over time. It truly does matter how sensitive you are, and that’s not something you can easily predict.


One of the main advantages of lingual braces is their true invisibility. Unlike metal braces, which are visible when you smile or speak, lingual braces are hidden behind your teeth.

This makes them a perfect alternative for anyone concerned about their looks during orthodontic treatment. As a result, lingual braces are a popular choice among professional adults.

Metal braces are quite visible and may be off-putting for some patients, but they still remain the first choice in challenging cases.

Classic Metal Braces


Both metal and lingual braces use similar materials for their brackets and archwires. Stainless steel is the main material used for brackets, and most wires use a NiTi alloy.

The materials used in both types of braces can be an issue if you have a Nickel allergy. In this situation, it would be better to opt for clear aligners instead.


In terms of convenience, lingual braces offer some advantages over metal braces. For instance, users of lingual braces tend to report fewer instances of broken brackets due to their low profile and flat design.

Since most lingual braces users are adults, the braces are less likely to be damaged. Adults are generally more responsible and self-conscious during orthodontic treatment. Plus, lingual braces do need some extra care.

Overall, lingual braces offer a more convenient and discreet option compared to metal braces. Fewer appointments and fewer emergency visits make lingual braces the winner.

Comparing the Effectiveness of Metal Vs. Lingual Braces

Case Complexity

When it comes to effectiveness, both traditional and lingual braces can address a wide range of orthodontic issues.

Traditional metal braces are a well-established treatment option. They work well for all dental conditions such as overbites, dental crowding, and protruding teeth.

Lingual braces need specialized training from the orthodontist but are highly effective if used correctly. Lingual braces can be used for more complex cases too, it all depends on the orthodontist’s skill.

However, keep in mind that some orthodontic cases may still be too complex for lingual braces. In such instances, metal braces might still be the best.

Treatment Length

Treatment time will always vary depending on the patient’s dental situation. Generally, both traditional and lingual braces have comparable treatment lengths: 18 to 24 months.

With traditional metal braces, expect checkups every 4-6 weeks. Lingual braces also need regular visits, but expect to go in at bigger intervals: 6-8 weeks.

Since lingual braces work a lot like self-ligating braces (but on the inside of teeth), they may be quicker. In the initial phases of treatment, you could see faster results with lingual braces.

Hygiene and Maintenance of Metal vs. Lingual Braces

Maintaining good oral hygiene is essential when wearing braces. Here are some key points to consider:

With metal braces, you can still see the braces which may motivate you to clean them often. Food can get stuck between braces and wires and make your smile unappealing.

Cleaning around the brackets and wires of metal braces is relatively easier. You can use a regular toothbrush, an interdental toothbrush, and floss to reach between the wires and brackets.

Lingual braces sit behind your teeth, making it more challenging to clean them. With the help of powerful water flossers like the Waterpik, it’s getting easier to maintain their hygiene. You’ll also need slim interdental brushes for those hard-to-reach areas.

Take care of your teeth by brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and using a fluoride mouthwash. This will help prevent gum inflammation and cavities.

Regular visits to your orthodontist and dentist are also important to monitor progress and keep teeth and gums healthy. They can give you tips on how to care for your braces and provide professional cleanings.

Cost Considerations of Metal Vs. Lingual Braces

When comparing metal braces and lingual braces, cost is one of the first things that sets them apart. Lingual braces cost more than metal braces because they use custom-made brackets and take longer to apply.

Traditional metal braces typically range between $3,000 and $7,000, depending on the complexity of your treatment and where you live. Metal braces are the most affordable because they come in stock, and their components are easy to replace if broken.

Lingual braces cost about $5,000 to $13,000. That’s nearly twice as much as traditional metal braces. The brackets and wires in lingual braces are custom-made, which increases the cost of materials and the time needed for treatment planning.

When deciding between the two, it’s important to consider other aspects of your treatment. For example: follow-up appointments, visit frequency, potential repairs, and retainers.

Insurance coverage can also affect the cost of braces. Some insurance plans may cover a portion of the cost for traditional metal braces but not lingual braces. This is because lingual braces are considered a cosmetic option.

However, expect most metal braces to be covered by insurance plans, since they work well and are economical.

In summary, here are the key points to consider when comparing the costs of metal braces and lingual braces:

  • Traditional metal braces: $3,000 – $7,000
  • Lingual braces: $5,000 – $13,000
  • Additional treatment costs (appointments, adjustments, repairs, retainers)
  • Insurance coverage and out-of-pocket expenses

Availability of Lingual Braces

Lingual braces are a specialized orthodontic treatment option that may not be widely available in all dental practices in the United States.

As a more “niche” treatment, lingual braces require a high level of skill and expertise. Not all orthodontists will offer this service because of the steep learning curve. Thankfully, digital customization has made the process much easier.

On the other hand, metal braces are quite common and can be found in nearly every orthodontist’s office. Despite being the least expensive, metal braces are still considered the most effective.

To find an orthodontist who offers lingual braces, you might need to do a bit of research and schedule a few consultations. Be sure to check their reviews and ask for before and after photos.

Customization of Lingual Braces

When it comes to orthodontic treatments, customization is a game-changer.

Lingual braces use two types of brackets and wires: stock and digitalized. Stock lingual braces work similarly to traditional metal braces. Digitalized lingual braces are custom-made to fit your teeth’s exact anatomy.

Brius Brava Lingual Braces. Source.

Several brands provide digital customization for lingual braces, such as Incognito, Inbrace, Suresmile Lingual, and Brius Brava. With these digitally planned treatments, you can enjoy up to 33% faster treatment times.

On the other hand, metal braces are typically only available in stock form. You can personalize them through color choices for the elastic bands. There have been some attempts to create custom brackets and custom bent wires for metal braces, but digital metal braces haven’t been adopted by orthodontists yet.


Are metal braces still used?

Yes, metal braces are still widely used to correct misaligned teeth and crowded teeth. They are a popular choice because of their effectiveness and affordability.

Are lingual braces faster?

Lingual braces work similarly to metal braces, but they are placed on the back (tongue side) of your teeth. The treatment time for lingual braces is comparable to that of metal braces. However, thanks to customization and smoother surfaces, lingual braces can treat your case a little faster.

Is it hard to eat with lingual braces? What about metal braces?

Eating with both lingual and metal braces can be challenging at first. You may experience discomfort and have to adjust your diet to avoid hard, sticky, or crunchy foods that could damage your braces. Over time, you will get used to eating with braces, and it will become more manageable.

Can you kiss with lingual braces? What about metal braces?

Kissing with either lingual or metal braces is possible, but it may take some getting used to. You should be cautious, especially at first, to avoid accidentally poking or hurting your partner’s cheeks or tongue with the braces.

Do lingual braces give you a lisp?

Lingual braces can initially cause speech issues, including a lisp, since they are positioned on the tongue side of your teeth. However, most people adapt to the braces within a few weeks, and the lisp usually disappears as you get used to speaking with them.

Metal braces can also cause lisps for some people since they often move the front teeth forward.

Are lingual braces covered by insurance?

Dental insurance coverage for orthodontic treatments varies between policies. Some insurance plans may cover a portion of the cost for lingual braces, while others might only cover traditional metal braces.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *