Invisalign and Speech: The Impact and How to Address it

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If you’re considering taking the leap and straightening your teeth with Invisalign, you are likely eager to know its impact on your speech. With its virtually invisible design, there’s no question that this advanced orthodontic treatment can offer significant improvements to your confidence and oral health. However, a better sense of how it may affect your communication ability is essential.

In this blog post, we’ll explain the relationship between Invisalign and speech so you can make an informed decision when determining whether or not this orthodontic treatment is right for you.

Summary of the Article

Invisalign is an orthodontic appliance designed to achieve straighter teeth with clear plastic aligners. Although it can be more comfortable than conventional braces, it may temporarily affect speech initially. Invisalign trays cover the teeth and affect airflow through the mouth, tongue placement, and lip movement. This can cause speech alterations, such as a slight lisp or difficulty pronouncing certain sounds, but these issues are usually temporary. They usually resolve during the adjustment period. Severe or permanent speech impairment from using Invisalign trays is extremely rare and usually results from worn-out or ill-fitting trays.

Some of the most common speech issues associated with Invisalign include lisping, difficulty pronouncing certain sounds, and tongue discomfort. Although Invisalign treatment is primarily focused on addressing dental problems, it may also help address speech issues caused by dental misalignment. To minimise the impact of Invisalign on speech, patients should practice speaking, speak slowly and deliberately, drink water frequently, wear the aligners as directed, and ask for advice from their dentist.

the girl on reception at the dentist

How Does Invisalign Affect Speech?

Invisalign is a dental appliance made of thin, flexible plastic designed to move your teeth to achieve a straighter smile. As effective as it is, some valid concerns regarding this treatment include how it affects a patient’s speech.

Invisalign trays cover the teeth and affect airflow through the mouth, tongue placement, and lip movement. Because of this, when patients start wearing them, they experience speech alterations, such as a slight lisp or difficulty pronouncing certain sounds, including the “s” and “th” sounds. However, the longer the patient wears the aligners. Their tongue and mouth adjust to their new positions, improving their speech.

Is Speech Impairment a Common Side Effect of Invisalign?

With any form of orthodontic intervention, it’s important to be aware of potential side effects, especially concerning speech impairments.

While slight alterations in speech may occur while wearing Invisalign, they are usually temporary during the adaptation period. Fortunately, severe or permanent speech impairment from using Invisalign trays is extremely rare. However, if it does occur, it usually results from worn-out or ill-fitting trays that have not been replaced as advised by the dentist. To avoid this issue, regular follow-up visits with the dentist for assessments and timely replacement of trays are recommended when using Invisalign.

What Types of Speech Issues Can Invisalign Cause?

Some of the most common speech issues associated with Invisalign include the following:

  • Lisping:
    The aligners can cause a person to produce a slight lisp as airflow and tongue placement are affected by the presence of the aligners. This is called aligner-related lisp.

  • Difficulty pronouncing certain sounds:
    Aligners can make it difficult to pronounce certain sounds, like “s,” “f,” and “th.” Tongue movement significantly contributes to creating these sounds, and since aligners cause changes in tongue placement, patients tend to have difficulty pronouncing them.

  • Tongue discomfort:
    The presence of the aligners in the mouth may cause discomfort to the tongue, which can also affect speech.

It’s important to note that not everyone who wears Invisalign will experience speech issues. In many cases, patients adjust to the aligners quickly and without difficulty. Additionally, any speech issues caused by Invisalign are usually temporary and should resolve once treatment is complete.

How Long Does It Take for Speech to Return to Normal After Starting Invisalign?

The time it takes to return to normal speech after beginning Invisalign aligners can vary from person to person. Generally, patients notice changes to their speech immediately, with slight lisps that lessen and disappear within 24-48 hours as they become accustomed to wearing the invisible braces. However, in severe cases where major tooth adjustments are required, a person’s speech pattern can take up to three weeks to fully correct itself.

That said, the positive physical changes brought on by aligners are usually worth the temporary alteration in manner of speaking. With controlled use of Invisalign, your speech should return to normal without much issue.

Can Invisalign Correct Speech Issues A Person Has Prior to Treatment?

Invisalign is primarily designed to address dental issues, such as misaligned or crooked teeth, rather than speech issues. However, if a person’s speech issues are caused by their dental misalignment, Invisalign may help address those issues as the teeth are straightened, and the bite is adjusted.

For example, if a person has an overbite or underbite causing speech issues, Invisalign may address the bite and improve speech. Similarly, if a person has gaps in their teeth causing a whistling sound when speaking, Invisalign can close those gaps and improve speech.

However, if a person’s speech issues are unrelated to their dental alignment, Invisalign is unlikely to have a significant impact on those issues. In these cases, the person may need to work with a speech therapist to improve their speech.

It’s important to note that Invisalign treatment is focused on addressing dental issues, and any improvements to speech are usually a secondary benefit of the treatment.

How Can the Impact of Invisalign on Speech Be Minimised?

While it’s normal for Invisalign to have an initial impact on speech, there are several ways to minimise this impact and help adjust to aligners more quickly, including the following:

  1. Practice speaking:
    The more a person speaks while wearing Invisalign, the more quickly they adjust to the aligners. Practising reading out loud or having conversations with friends and family can help.

  2. Speak slowly and deliberately:
    Slowing down speech and enunciating words more carefully can help improve clarity while wearing Invisalign.

  3. Drink water frequently:
    Drinking water can help moisten the mouth and reduce dryness, improving speech.

  4. Wear the aligners as directed:
    Wearing the aligners for the recommended time (usually 20-22 hours per day) can help the mouth and tongue adjust more quickly to the aligners.

  5. Ask for advice from the dentist:
    The dentist may be able to provide tips and advice for improving speech while wearing Invisalign.

It’s important to remember that any speech issues caused by Invisalign are usually temporary and should improve over time as the mouth and tongue adjust to the aligners. Additionally, the dental benefits of Invisalign often outweigh temporary speech issues, and most people can adapt to the aligners quickly and without difficulty.

Can Speech Therapy Help With Any Speech Issues Caused by Invisalign?

Speech therapy may be helpful if a patient has a pre-existing speech defect exacerbated by Invisalign aligners. In these cases, a speech therapist can help patients develop strategies to improve their speech while wearing the aligners.

However, not all patients experiencing difficulties with speech due to Invisalign require speech therapy. Remember that in most cases, these issues are only temporary and will resolve as patients adjust to the aligners. If persistent speech issues impact the patient’s quality of life, a speech therapist can provide support and guidance.

Are There Any Alternatives to Invisalign That Won't Affect Speech?

The impact of Invisalign aligners on speech can discourage some patients. If you’re looking for alternative treatments for straight teeth, you can look into traditional braces. Traditional braces are an effective and reliable treatment for misaligned teeth and a great alternative to Invisalign. They are placed in the front tooth surface, causing fewer changes to the tongue’s placement and movement. These braces come with brackets that generate gentle forces, slowly shifting teeth into proper positions. The process is slightly longer than Invisalign, but it could be worth it if you seek orthodontic treatment without speech disturbances.

Final Thoughts

Invisalign is a dental appliance made of thin plastic that can affect speech, but these issues are temporary and usually resolved as the patient adjusts to the aligners. While some patients may experience speech alterations such as a lisp or difficulty pronouncing certain sounds, most patients adjust to the aligners quickly and without difficulty. Wearing the aligners as directed, practising speaking, and slowing down speech can help reduce the impact of Invisalign on speech.

If you want to straighten your teeth and have a better smile, Joondanna Family Dental can help. Our experienced dentists can assist you with any speech problems associated with dental treatments like Invisalign. Don’t hesitate to contact Joondanna Family Dental now and unlock the confidence of a beautiful smile!

Dr. Lucy Ge

Author

Dr. Lucy Ge

Dr. Lucy Ge’s vision for Joondanna Family Dental is to be the local dentist that the community can rely on.

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