We encourage you to ask as many questions before you start your orthodontic journey with us. Usually, the most common ones revolve around how long it will take to straighten your smile, or what foods you can and can’t eat. The other popular question is, “will my speech be affected once my braces are put on?”
It’s a great question especially for adults that are starting their orthodontic journey and need to speak clearly in their profession. But is it something you need to be worried about?
Why Do Braces Affect Speech?
Like anything, it may take you a little while to get used to your new orthodontic appliance. Whether it’s traditional metal braces, lingual braces or Invisalign, it’s perfectly normal for your appliances to feel a little foreign. Sometimes you may experience lisping as a result of orthodontic treatment but the good news is it generally doesn’t last long!
To start with, your cheeks and tongue may experience a little tenderness and sensitivity which will make pronouncing certain words tricky. If you’re getting lingual braces, it might take a bit longer for you to adjust as they’re closer to your tongue.
Generally, after a couple of weeks most people tend to adjust to their new orthodontic appliance and speech will often return to normal.
Practice Makes Perfect
The best way to reduce the speech impediments that braces may cause is to practice, practice, practice! Start identifying the words that you’re having trouble pronouncing and practice saying them out loud. Also try reading out loud, belting out a tune or just having a long chat with someone you feel comfortable with.
Your new best friend through your orthodontic journey will be orthodontic wax. Orthodontic wax, or tooth wax, is used to temporarily cover sharp surfaces (such as your brackets) inside your mouth to protect the soft tissues (gums, cheeks, lips etc.). Using orthodontic wax will help ease some of the discomfort you may feel when you first get braces. By covering your brackets with wax you may even start to improve your speech faster. To help you long-term, we often recommend delaying the use of ortho wax for as long as possible to help “toughen” the inside of your mouth.
Before you decide whether or not you’ll undergo orthodontic treatment think about the end goal. A temporary speech impediment may be a small price to pay to get your dream smile though it is ultimately your decision as to how you would like to achieve it. It’s also important to remember that your speech may sound a lot worse to you than it will to everyone else around you. Whilst you might think you’ve got a lisp or your mispronouncing words, chances are it may not be noticeable to those around you. Be patient, it is anticipated you will adjust to your braces before you know it.
If any speech impediments persist during your treatment, let your orthodontist know immediately. They may have some extra speech exercises or strategies to help you adapt to your new orthodontic appliance.