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Lingual Braces, Speech Problems and How to Solve Them

Written by Dr. Chaw Su Kyi on November 11, 2023

Incognito lingual braces solve the issue of having noticeable teeth straightening appliances attached prominently in the front of your smile. By fixing the brackets and wires to the back of the teeth, we can discreetly correct their position. 

Because the braces are fixed to the back of the teeth, the space for tongue movement is reduced. As a result, some wearers report speech problems, particularly in the first few days of treatment. 

If you develop a slight lisp due to lingual brace treatment, how long will it continue? And what can you do to improve your speech?

In this guide, we’ll look at how lingual braces work and how to address any speech difficulties that may emerge during treatment. 

Lingual Braces vs. Traditional Braces

Traditional braces use tension created by a metal wire to achieve straighter teeth. The wire is attached to your teeth using brackets. These are bonded in place. Small elastic bands trap the wire in the brackets. 

Many orthodontic patients worry about the appearance of their smile during treatment. You may feel self-conscious about wearing braces. Lingual braces solve this issue by hiding the brackets and wires. They use a similar technique to traditional braces to correct the position of your teeth. 

Like traditional fixed braces, Incognito braces can fix mild to complex problems. This includes reducing crowding, removing gaps, straightening crooked or protruded teeth, and addressing bite alignment problems. 

Before opting for orthodontic treatment, you will need to consider several factors. 

Like having braces on the front of your teeth, wearing lingual braces requires meticulous hygiene standards. Food debris and bacteria can build up around brackets and under the wire. Careful cleaning is essential; however, it can take time to get used to this, given the position of the brace. 

You may also need to think about what you eat. Certain foods can become trapped in both traditional and lingual braces.

Some people experience soreness while getting used to wearing braces. With lingual braces, the tongue can rub against the brackets, causing mild discomfort. 

While some people may develop temporary speech problems with traditional braces, these are more common with lingual braces. 

What Kind of Speech Problems Could I Have?

Common speech issues associated with lingual braces include:

Speech Impediments: Lingual braces can lead to the development of speech impediments, such as lisping or difficulty pronouncing certain sounds. This occurs because the lingual brackets and wires can obstruct the natural movement of the tongue, affecting the way certain sounds are produced.

Increased Salivation: Lingual braces may temporarily increase saliva production, affecting speech clarity and comfort. Managing this excess saliva can be challenging, especially during the initial adjustment period.

Articulation Issues:  For some, lingual braces affect articulation, requiring some adjustment in your speech patterns. 

For example, to create words with an “S” sound, your tongue must move behind your upper front teeth close to the roof of your mouth. When you first have Incognito braces, you may be particularly conscious that the brackets and wires are where your tongue usually sits to make this sound. While you readjust, your “S” sounds will come out as “TH”. 

As your teeth move to their new position, you may also create unintentional whistling sounds. These sounds also occur while making “S” sounds. This sometimes occurs as your two front teeth move.  

Psychological Factors: Besides the physical challenges, there are psychological factors to consider when adapting to lingual braces. 

Some people may initially feel self-conscious about their speech changes when wearing braces. This can impact their confidence in social and professional settings.

How Long Will the Lingual Braces Speech Problems Last?

The tongue is a complex muscular organ sensitive to changes in the mouth, like ulcers or damage to teeth. Initially, your tongue can take time to adjust to the sensation of touching your brace. It is natural, at first, for your tongue to avoid touching the brace to avoid discomfort. 

As you get used to wearing braces, your tongue will naturally adapt. For some, this is quick, and any speech issues will go away in a week or two. Other patients may have difficulties for a longer period. 

Factors affecting the duration of speech issues include the size and shape of your bite and the strength of your tongue and jaw. Some people naturally have more control over their tongue and will quickly learn to anticipate words around the brace. 

How Can I Improve My Speech With Lingual Braces?

While you may feel inclined to avoid speaking as much if you develop a temporary lisp, the best way to overcome it is to continue talking normally. Persistence for even a few weeks will eventually help your tongue get used to the brace being there. 

Speech exercises can help. Practising a variety of difficult words can gradually improve articulation. Reading out loud is a good way to practice speaking. 

Using orthodontic wax on your brace will improve comfort. Reducing soreness can make speech easier. 

If speech problems persist, a speech therapist can help. Speech therapy makes you more aware of how you use different parts of your mouth to form words. 

The key to correcting speech problems caused by lingual braces is to create space by opening the back of your throat. This helps your tongue develop independently from the lips and jaws to reach the hard ridge behind the teeth. Speech therapists can help you learn how to do this.

The number of sessions you will need can vary; however, typically, two or three appointments with a speech therapist are usually enough to help you speak clearly and confidently. 

In addition to practising forming different words, you can also try to speak slower, taking time to enunciate each word. 

Spending time practising will help retrain your tongue and build confidence. It may feel like hard work; however, it is worth it in the long run. 

The Importance of Communication With Your Orthodontist

If you are experiencing any difficulties during your treatment, we would like to know. While some speech problems are common, if they endure, we can suggest ways to address them. 

Throughout your treatment, we will invite you for checkups. During these appointments, we will evaluate the progress of your treatment and make adjustments to your brace. These checkups are a good opportunity to discuss concerns about your speech or any issue you face openly.

Lingual Braces in West London

Incognito braces offer the same level of effectiveness as traditional braces; however, they are more discreet, making them perfect if you are self-conscious. You may experience temporary speech difficulties while adapting to wearing braces.

While speech problems tend to pass, they can be distressing for some patients. If you are having difficulty adapting, talk to us. We can provide support and advice to ensure you persist and enjoy the full benefit of your life-changing treatment. 

West London Orthodontics provides exceptional orthodontic care for children and adults in Sheperd’s Bush, Hammersmith, and Chiswick; Dr Kyi is a leading specialist orthodontist with considerable experience with lingual braces and other treatments. Schedule your consultation today.

West London Orthodontics offers the most advanced orthodontic care for children and adults. Serving patients in Hammersmith, Shepherd's Bush, and Chiswick, Dr Kyi and her team specialise in various brace options, including Invisalign. Book a consultation today.

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