Some speech impediments are caused by misalignment. Therefore, braces may help with that. However, when wearing braces, you might experience that the new braces systems used to straighten teeth and correct orthodontic conditions of a varying degree have an initial adjustment period where word pronunciation and speech may be affected.
Although you may feel disheartened by this, the experience may have a positive side. You may learn more about speech ability and what may be done to improve speech function.
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Choice of Braces and Speech Adjustment
Although an orthodontist or dentist recommends braces systems according to a person’s orthodontic diagnosis, the individual does have a choice over the type of braces system. There are selections of fixed and removable braces systems, some made of tooth-colored brackets with archwires and others comprised of clear aligners like a mouth shield.
Lingual braces where the brackets are fixed to the back of the front teeth for total discretion are an option too and are often considered to help improve speech ability.
The key is to explore the options in orthodontic braces treatment and choose the braces system that is right for you and that you feel most comfortable with. Should speech be temporarily affected, at least you will be wearing a braces system that you accept and feel in control of.
Temporary Speech Impediments Are Not Permanent
Keep in mind that speech impediments resulting from an adjustment to wearing dental braces are temporary and not permanent. The brackets and archwires may feel strange at first, as may an invisible aligner that is removable.
The tongue may have difficulty moving as it usually does for speech, and you may find yourself lisping at times.
As we speak, our lips and tongue move as the facial muscles expand and contract. Over time these movements form a habit, and when braces are worn the habit may take time to adjust to new sensations.
Remembering that our oral structures will adjust to new movements for speech is encouraging. Before you know it, it will feel as if wearing braces is the new norm.
Understanding Speech Function
Learning about speech function is another way of understanding how to gain better control sooner over our speech functions.
The process of speech involves bringing voice sound and controlling pitch from the diaphragm, therefore our posture when speaking is important.
Talking involves body support – keep the stomach in, push the chest out, relax the shoulders, keep the back straight and the feet steady.
Wax to Lubricate Braces Brackets
Some individuals undergoing dental braces treatment find that applying a dental wax to the braces brackets helps to give better glide and smoothness for speech. Speaking with the dentist or orthodontist about options such as braces wax may help you find solutions to challenges in adjusting speech with braces wear.
Braces Adjustment for Better Braces Fit
Bear in mind that the speech difficulties when initially wearing braces should be temporary, lasting about two weeks. Should braces wear cause discomfort and great difficulty with speech, it is best to speak with the dentist or orthodontist about your concerns. Braces may need adjustment to fit better and damaged braces should always be repaired or replaced by a dentist or orthodontist.
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Benefits of Lingual and Self-ligating Braces
Lingual braces may be the answer for easier oral functions including speech while having teeth straightening treatment.
With small brackets located behind the front teeth, Lingual braces allow for smooth and comfortable oral movements. Braces with self-ligating technology are designed for passive function and to reduce friction that may impede speech function.
Added benefits are that they are the only total discrete or invisible braces system.
Braces Lisp and Speech Practice
During the initial phase of braces wear you may find that you lisp frequently. However, some people adjust within two days to their new braces and find that the lisping entirely stops. Others may need more practice by slowing down their speech and pronouncing words that seem to trigger lisps.
Words with S’s, T’s, D’s and C’s often are problematic when first adjusting to braces wear. Ways to practice pronunciation and improve speech include:
- Singing – Singing favorite songs and pronouncing the words properly while singing may not only give pleasure and laughs but help you adjust to new oral movements due to braces wear. Singing is intuitive and may help your tongue, lips and facial muscles move better while wearing new braces.
- Speaking or reading out loud – Some people feel an improvement in their speech from speaking or reading out loud. Choose a favorite topic or an article and book of interest. Project your voice from the diaphragm. You may find that your speech function improves far faster.
- Speech drill tapes – Instead of an article of interest, you may find using a speech drill tape is more to your suiting. The main point is to repeat and practice speech function to get used to the wearing of new braces that will soon straighten your teeth for a beautiful smile.
- Use a voice recorder – We all have different preferences, and some prefer using a voice recorder to speak into while practicing speech function to improve pronunciation while adjusting to braces wear. By playing back your voice recordings, you can hear the sound of your voice in speech and the improvement!
- Speak slower with purpose – Slowing down your speech and being mindful of how you speak will help with clearer speech and adjusting to your new braces system.
Richard is a Manchester based writer focusing on health and dental care. Currently, he is working with the experts at Invisible Braces UK to educate people on cosmetic ways to promote tooth kindness.
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