How do lingual braces move teeth?

If you’ve explored our website you’re probably au fait with the benefits of lingual braces: they look just like fixed braces but they’re ingeniously placed behind your teeth – you won’t find a brace that’s more discreet.

They’re also great at straightening teeth and are capable of treating the vast majority of orthodontic problems. This is because they work just like traditional fixed braces, which consist of two main components: brackets and arch wires.


Fixed braces move teeth using small metal brackets, which are attached to the teeth for the duration of treatment. Usually brackets are attached to every tooth, but if you’re only looking to straighten your front teeth your orthodontist might only need to attach brackets to your front six or eight teeth.

Lingual brackets are usually made from stainless steel or gold alloy. Depending on the lingual brace you choose your brackets might be standard sized or custom-made to fit your teeth.

Your orthodontist will fix your brackets in place using a special dental cement. This should keep them in position for the duration of your treatment whilst allowing your orthodontist to remove them easily once they’ve done their job.

Arch wires

Your brackets – and in turn your teeth – are moved using a series of thin metal arch wires. Each arch wire is attached to your brackets using metal ligatures or elastic bands. Some lingual brackets have clips that hold the arch wire in place – these are known as self-ligating brackets.

The arch wire straightens your teeth by gradually returning to its original shape (a perfect arch), taking your teeth with it. Your orthodontist will change your arch wire approximately every six to eight weeks. They’ll use different wires at different stages of your treatment. In some cases your arch wires will be custom-made, just like your brackets.

How do teeth move?

Now that you know how your lingual braces move your teeth, it’s important to understand how your bone and tissues remodel to allow this movement.

Your lingual brace will exert pressure on your teeth. This causes their periodontal membrane to stretch and compress, and the teeth to loosen. New bone will then form around the teeth, supporting them in their new position – a process known as bone remodelling. It’s a bit like moving a stick through sand – where there is pressure the bone moves out of the way and where there is tension, the bone fills in.

Once your teeth are in their new position and your braces have been removed it can take a while for everything to stabilise. This is why retainers are particularly important during your first year post-braces – they’re like a plaster cast or your teeth.

Why choose a fixed brace?

Fixed braces such as lingual braces are a great choice for straightening teeth. They can treat a wide range of different complaints, including crowding, crooked teeth, bite problems and impacted teeth.

Unlike clear aligners they also give your orthodontist full control over your treatment plan. They can make adjustments to your brace in order to achieve very precise movements and tweak individual teeth until they’re in just the right position.

For more advice on lingual braces, get in touch with your local specialist orthodontist. The majority of BLOS members offer free no-obligation consultations and will be able to discuss lingual braces as well as the other options available to you.