From an aesthetic standpoint, orthodontic work is a great way to improve the look of your smile. Alignment issues such as crowding, tooth gaps, and bite problems often make people feel self-conscious about their appearance. With a straightened smile, confidence soars. And orthodontics isn’t just cosmetic; it can be a powerful way to improve your oral health.
Crooked and overlapping teeth are much more difficult to clean than straight teeth, leading to higher rates of tooth decay and gum disease. People with bite problems are also at a greater risk of developing chronic jaw pain and headaches. After orthodontic work, these risks decrease as teeth become easier to clean.
But there is also another, lesser-known benefit of orthodontics: clearer speaking. When we tell patients this, many are surprised. In fact, some of them are in disbelief and ask, “Can braces really improve my speech?”
To clear up any confusion on the topic, we spend this article examining how braces can improve speech clarity as well as which specific speech issues will benefit from orthodontic treatment.
“Can Braces Improve My Speech?” Well, It Depends
Yes, braces can improve speech in some cases. However, orthodontic treatment alone will not fix all speech issues.
Speech problems and impediments are complicated issues that occur for many reasons. Consider stuttering, for example. Genetics, environment, brain function, and environment all play a role in stutter development. Moreover, the majority of stuttering cases are related to motor control, not oral functionality. That means orthodontic work will not improve most stuttering cases or aid other speech issues rooted in mental or motor functions (e.g. apraxia, dysarthria, etc.)
However, tooth misalignments can make stuttering worse. Certain bite problems and crowding issues can restrict tongue and jaw function. Without these functionalities, people who stutter may experience additional difficulty pronouncing and enunciating.
Many other speech issues directly stem from oral anatomy problems like irregular tooth position and jaw structure—these are the kinds of problems that braces can improve.
How Braces Can Improve Speech
Although we don’t often think about it, speaking is a complex process.
Brain processing, nerve control, muscle movement, and precise timing are all needed to clearly enunciate words and articulate sounds. Oral anatomy also plays an important role. To produce clear speech, the tongue, lips, oropharynx, teeth, and jaws must work together in harmony to create sounds. This action is called the “mechanical process” of speaking.
Orthodontic work improves speech by correcting bite problems and malocclusions (i.e. misaligned teeth) that are impeding clear speech. Depending on your specific alignment issue, braces and Invisalign can improve the mechanical process in a variety of ways.
View the chart below to see how correcting particular orthodontic problems can improve speech issues:
|Bite Issue||Benefits of Orthodontics|
|Irregular Incisor Teeth||Clearer pronunciation of “t” “d” and “s” sounds|
|Irregular Upper Anterior Teeth||Clearer pronunciation of “p” ”b” and “m” sounds|
|Open Bite||Lower lisping levels and clearer pronunciation of “s” “z” “t” ”d” ”n” and ”l” sounds|
|Diastema (i.e. Tooth Gaps)||Lower lisping levels|
|Cleft Palate||Overall clearer speech and better pronunciation|
Looking for Orthodontic Work in the Los Angeles Area? Contact Beverly Hills Orthodontics Today
If you are experiencing mechanical speaking problems, there is a good chance that Invisalign or braces can improve your speech.
Issues like open bites and misaligned teeth often prevent people from properly pronouncing specific sounds. Although orthodontic work is not a “cure-all” for speech problems, it has improved the speech patterns of countless people around the world.
At Beverly Hills Orthodontics, Dr. Monica Madan and the BHO team have been correcting alignment issues since 2008. Recognized as one of the top Invisalign providers in the country and offering the latest in accelerated orthodontic technology, Beverly Hills Orthodontics can help you look your best and speak clearer than ever before.