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How orthodontic treatment can improve speech and pronunciation 

August 5, 2019
How orthodontic treatment can improve speech and pronunciation 

It can take some time to get used to having braces – including the way you speak and pronounce words or phrases. But with a little patience and some practise, you’ll be used to them in no time! 

Orthodontists are often asked: ‘how will braces affect my speech and pronunciation? This is an extremely important question, especially for adults who are undergoing treatment later in life and need to speak clearly in their professional or social environment. 

But like anything new, you should give yourself time to get used to your new orthodontic appliance. Whether you are choosing clear aligners or metal braces, it’s normal for your mouth to feel different after undergoing an orthodontic procedure. But the good news is that after a few weeks things will improve considerably.

The most important thing to remember is that your speech often sounds a lot worse to you, than it does to anybody else around you. And while you may feel like you have developed a lisp or begun mispronouncing words, it probably isn’t very noticeable to your family and friends.

Will my speech and pronunciation be affected? 

Traditional braces and clear aligners will take some getting used to, so you may notice minor difficulties while speaking or pronouncing certain words. This is because braces change how your tongue and lips move when speaking. However, this should only last for a few days, after which you should adjust accordingly. Lingual braces tend to have a greater impact on your speech due to their close proximity to the tongue. However, this will generally improve with time as you get used to the sensation of the appliance in your mouth. 

braces lisp

Improving your speech and pronunciation  

Did you know that in certain situations braces may actually help you improve some speech impediments? Teeth play an important role in how you pronounce and articulate words. When people have widely spaced teeth or a particular bite (such as an open bite), they may experience speech problems such as lisping or whistling. So, closing large gaps and improving malocclusions through orthodontic treatment may sometimes help improve speech and your ability to pronounce certain words or phrases. 

It’s important to note, though, that if you have additional or underlying needs, such as a speech impediment, you should consult with a speech pathologist or therapist to get their expert advice. 

Tips for adjusting to your braces

When you first get your braces, it may take a short time to get used to the look and feel of them. You may experience minor tenderness or sensitivity on your cheeks and tongue which can make it slightly more challenging to pronounce words or chew on hard foods. This is completely normal, and your mouth should adjust in a couple of weeks, making things go back to normal. 

In the meantime, here are some things you can do to make the transition easier: 

Practice makes perfect

Like a lot of things in life, it’s important to work towards your goals by practicing the words that are difficult to pronounce. This can be done by reading books out loud, singing or engaging in lengthy conversations with people you feel comfortable talking to.

Orthodontic wax is your best-friend

Some patients use orthodontic wax to help ease discomfort when they first get their braces applied, but it may also help to improve speech faster. This is because the orthodontic wax helps lubricate the brackets and provide improved smoothness and glide for speech, making it easier to pronounce certain words 

Slow down

When you first get your braces, it’s important to slow down your speech and focus on enunciation. This will help you work on the more difficult words

Be patient

Remember, the inconvenience of speech difficulty is a small price to pay for a dazzling smile that you will have for many years to come. So be patient, you will adjust before you know it.

If you’re still experiencing difficulty with your speech after undergoing orthodontic treatment, you should book a consultation with your orthodontist who may provide additional advice to help you adjust to the appliances in your mouth. And remember, caring for your braces will help make your treatment as smooth and effective as can be! 

Use our Finder Tool to find a specialist orthodontist near you and ask them any questions you may have 

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