Making the decision to get braces (or other appliances orthodontic treatment) can have a positive effect not only on the way you look, but also on the way you speak. Your pearly whites play a big part in how you form words. If your teeth are out of normal alignment your speech will be affected.
Depending on the type, and severity, of your malocclusion, the positioning of your teeth may impact how you speak, potentially resulting in a speech impediment. The most common problems are lisps (problems forming c, z, s, t’s and the “th” sound) along with whistling. The more severe the malocclusion the more pronounced the speech impediment ordinarily is.
If you are undergoing orthodontic treatment, you may also notice that your “normal” way of speaking undergoes a shift. This is normal while your tongue and other facial structures responsible for speaking acclimate to the new additions in your mouth.
While you are undergoing your orthodontic treatment, there are techniques that can help you with elocution, enunciation, pronunciation and even diction. With a little practice, you can use this time to come out on the other end as a more accomplished speaker.
Here are some exercises and techniques that you can consider using while you are in braces to help you with pronunciation, articulation, improve your overall speech and perhaps even your self confidence in public:
Slow it down
Getting braces can be a positive mechanism to help you slow your speech down. In the short term this will allow your mouth to adjust to the braces, and in the long term slowing your speech down and focusing on your pronunciation and enunciation will help you to be a better all round speaker.
Stand up Straight and Breathe
Believe it or not, working on your posture can improve the way you speak. Standing up straight and tall, shoulders relaxed and back, and chin up are all important to the mechanics of speech. Proper posture positions the diaphragm and larynx so that your natural patterns and optimal pitch are achieved.
If you are really looking to improve the way you speak, you can work on the way that you breathe, too. Breathing deeply in through your nose until you feel your stomach expanding all the way out (called diaphragmatic breathing) is a great way to settle your nerves and provide the right amount of breath to get in a good point, or note too.
Be a Star
Singing is great way to practice your spoken cadence—maybe give the Bob Dylan songs a skip, though. As you know what the song sounds like you can better try to mimic the sounds which will help all the components involved in speaking get into the habit of creating the sounds.
Plus, singing is a great way to raise spirits and get a good laugh out of people—including yourself. Sing to yourself in the car, the shower, your room or even in front of your friends!
Saying it Out Loud
Along the same lines as singing, reading out loud from your favorite book or magazine allows you to practice your speech and you have the luxury of going back and rereading it until the word sounds right. It’ll also help to identify those words that you need to work on while you are in private.
Tape yourself and listen back to what you sound like. Do it a couple of times reading from the same passage, recording each one. You can hear yourself improving as you practice the techniques and focus on those portions that can use a tweak or two. And as a bonus, the practice will help you adjust to your braces.
If you are overly concerned with your speech, a consultation with a language or speech therapist can diagnose the root of the issue, but more importantly can provide exercises and methods to address them.