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Do Clear Aligners Give You A Lisp?

Smiling woman holding clear aligners

If you’re a new clear aligner patient, there’s a chance you may notice some emergent slurring and lisping issues you didn’t have to deal with before. Fortunately, these issues are extremely treatable, and often, reversible. If you notice emerging speech issues while wearing clear aligners, here’s what you should do to remedy them.

Do Lisps Ever Go Away?

Yes, lisps can and will go away while wearing clear aligners! Moreover, it’s extremely likely that won’t even have to worry about a lisp at all. According to a study published by Verena Nedwed, approximately 93 percent of patients wearing the most popular clear aligner brands should not experience any speech issues.

This study was conducted on a select sample size but observed their first 3-6 months of treatment. As this is the period where you’re starting to acclimate with your new treatment, this is around the timeframe where you should notice emergent lisping and speech slurring, should it occur.

Obviously, speaking articulately is an important part of life, and even if you do run into public speaking issues with aligners, you can rest assured knowing that they are, often, temporary!

Can Lisps Be Fixed?

Yes -- if you’re one of the few new clear aligner patients who develops a lisp while wearing your appliances, you can rest assured knowing that the problem will likely resolve itself within a few weeks. Your tongue should naturally become more acclimated to the presence of the aligner trays.

Furthermore, if you’ve dealt with pre-existing lisp and speech development issues, then clear aligners may be the right tool to fix them. Since most lisps result from structural irregularities in the mouth that cause poor tongue placement, resolving your malocclusion could mean resolving those tongue placement issues, and consequently, your lisp.

Granted, all of that could depend on the particular type of lisp you’re dealing with:

  • Dentalized: Occurs from the tongue pushing against front teeth
  • Lateral: Occurs due to uneven tongue airflow
  • Interdental: Occurs due to tongue pushing between front teeth spaces
  • Palatal: Occurs due to tongue pushing against roof of mouth

More extensive palatal procedures could have to be implemented for the last sort of lisp, but the others may potentially be fixable via clear aligner treatment. If you take on a lisp while wearing clear aligners that doesn’t resolve on its own, your orthodontist may recommend taking on more extensive speech exercises or seeking out a speech language pathologist for more extensive therapy.

Lisp Exercises

If you have a stubborn lisp that persists throughout clear aligner treatment, the following techniques may help you mitigate or correct that lisp:

  • Mindfulness: Being more cognizant of tongue movements in relation to teeth can do a lot to mitigate the habits that cause lisping. You can become more mindful of this by practicing specific enunciations like “Z”, “S”, “Th”, or “Ch” with your tongue pressed downward.
  • Enunciation: Don’t just concentrate on consonants, vowels, or syllables alone. Focus on enunciating full phrases or sentences without lisping. Think of different conversational techniques to work on. Practice makes perfect!
  • Tongue exercises: There’s a reason they’re called tongue twisters. Tongue up-and-downs and side-by-side movements will help work out tension from the tongue muscles and ease the pressure behind the lisp.
  • Massage: Try specific jaw and cheekbone massages to ease the pressure around your mouth.
  • Using straws: Drinking cool water with a straw isn’t just a safe, soothing, and hydrating form of pain relief with clear aligners. It also helps to keep your tongue naturally positioned down, away from the palate and front teeth.

If you try these particular relief methods and lisping still persists for months, consult a trusted orthodontist to receive a reliable Second Opinion. From there, they can determine whether or not more extensive speech therapy would be necessary to manage it, or whether or not you would need revised aligner fits.

Can Aligners Cause a Permanent Lisp?

Every patient is different, but you should generally expect any aligner-related lisp to last for a few weeks at most. Those above exercises aren’t guaranteed fixes, but they can still help expedite the time your lisp lasts before it inevitably fixes itself.

When it comes to speech impediments, removable clear aligners are far more corrective than counterintuitive. If you’re anxious about your aligner lisping lasting forever, then you should put those fears to rest. It’s almost certainly just temporary, like your treatment writ large.

Think of it as a steppingstone now to a rewarding, straightened later. But, if long term issues somehow persist, it’s advised that you consider trying these exercises, and consulting a licensed orthodontist about them ASAP. They can pinpoint if you would need to be referred for more comprehensive speech therapy.