Can Wearing Braces Give You a Lisp? (And How to Fix it)

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Medically reviewed by Othman Lahmaydi, RDH

Braces can dramatically improve your smile, and in doing so, your life! While a more beautiful smile is a great reason to wear braces, there are even greater health benefits that come with correcting dental malocclusions. Braces can help prevent bone erosion, tooth decay, and certain gum diseases. But does wearing this somewhat awkward hardware in your mouth come with the risk of developing a lisp?

Wearing braces can cause temporary slurring or a lisp due to the space they take up and because they can interfere with tongue movement. These issues go away when the wearer becomes more comfortable with having braces, and they practicing some simple pronunciation techniques can help reduce this.

Let’s have a look at how likely it is that you’ll get a lisp while wearing braces, how long it may last, how you can fix any temporary speech impairment, and also some of the serious speech impediments that you can permanently fix by wearing proper braces. 

How Likely Is It That Wearing Braces Will Give Me a Lisp? 

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All kinds of dental tools that perform a corrective function, including braces, have the ability to affect speech fluency in some ways, especially until you get used to having the extra hardware in your mouth.

The “s” sounds are usually the most affected since the braces create a slight barrier between the tongue and the teeth ridge. 

Therefore, during your initial period of adjustment to the braces — which could lat from a few days to several weeks — you may experience a slight lisp or a slurred speech. It’s important to know that this is only temporary. Once you push through the initial discomfort, you will get used to the braces in your mouth and will be able to speak normally. 

If you have properly customized, fixed braces, it’s less likely that you’ll develop an initial difficulty speaking when compared to wearing lingual braces or Invisalign. When braces are movable, it becomes more difficult for your tongue and other speech organs to find natural ways to move with them in your mouth. 

Lingual braces are in many ways similar to traditional braces, but they are nearly invisible due to their placement in the mouth.

Since they’re fixed to the back of the teeth, they’re in closer proximity to your tongue. This makes it slightly more difficult to speak than when you wear traditional fixed braces because your tongue constantly touches your braces when you speak. 

How Long Will a Lisp Last With Braces?

It could take anywhere from a few days to a month for a lisp to go away after getting braces.

The duration depends on several factors, including how the braces are fitted in your mouth, the size of the brackets and wires, the material the braces are made of, and also your own ability to adapt your speech to the braces that you wear so that you can speak clearly. 

How Can Wearing Braces Fix a Speech Impediment Like a Lisp?

Our teeth, jaw, and tongue play important parts in proper speech production. They need to be aligned and in harmony for us to speak clearly without having to put in extra effort. There are many dental malocclusions that can cause speech impediments. Some of them are mentioned below. 

  • Overcrowding of teeth: When the natural denture of a person doesn’t have sufficient space for teeth, it can cause teeth to overlap. Overcrowded teeth often protrude outwards or turn sideways, making it difficult for the tongue to move freely when producing speech. 
  • Gaps in teeth: If a person has a discrepancy when it comes to the size of their jaw and teeth, gaps can form between the teeth. This can cause whistling sounds or mild lisps to occur when the person speaks.
  • Open bite: Having front upper and lower teeth with an outward slant that prevents them from touching when the jaws are closed is called an open bite. This condition can cause an interdental lisp since it’s difficult to control the airflow out of the mouth. 
  • Overjet: Overjet is a horizontal misalignment between the upper and lower front teeth, with the upper front teeth pushing outward. Mild to severe cases of overjet can affect speech-producing “s” sounds.

All the dental malocclusions mentioned above can be fixed or reduced by wearing braces for a duration decided by an orthodontist.

What Can I Do to Fix a Lisp Caused By Wearing Braces?

Young preteen girl in glasses wearing braces smiles at the camera on a summer day

When you’re getting your braces installed, make sure you go to an experienced orthodontist since their tools, technique, and the brand of brackets they use for your braces can change the degree of your temporary lisp.

Understand that getting through this temporary and mild speech impediment is a part of straightening your teeth and eventually having a dazzling smile that you can show off. 

Your tongue and other speech organs have the ability to work around your braces and speak clearly. For the most part, you simply need to give yourself and your tongue some time to explore the new addition to the mouth and find ways to speak without any slurring or impairments. 

Once the initial discomfort wears off and you feel familiar enough with the braces, work on slowly correcting your articulation issues with these tips: 

  • Isolate the most common sounds in speech, and work on uttering each sound till you get it right. Don’t try to rush when you speak. 
  • Slow down.
  • Sing! It’s a great way to open up your vocal tract and for you to start feeling comfortable with your braces. 
  • Pick your favorite book and read it out loud. If you catch yourself slurring with certain words, reread those words until they sound right. 
  • Recite the Rainbow Passage to improve your articulation skills. It’s short and phonetically balanced, and it’s often used to improve the speaking skills of English students.
  • Breath deeply, and articulate your words clearly and carefully until it starts feeling natural to you to speak clearly while wearing braces.
  • Practice, practice, practice!

If your lisp or slurring of the words lasts for longer than a few weeks even after active attempts to get through it, make sure you consult with a trained speech and language pathologist to help you.

Braces are one of the most effective solutions to many dental malocclusions and they come with minimal risk. While they may feel uncomfortable and awkward at first, causing you to have a temporary lisp, it can be quickly reduced with speech articulation practice and some loud singing!

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