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What My Braces Taught Me about Speech Therapy

Sometimes it can be hard to relate to our students with articulation or language difficulties because we didn't go through those struggles as a child. I got braces as an adult and it did a lot more than straighten my teeth, it gave me new perspective!


When I was 19 (I'm in my 30's now), I received braces. I had bite issues for years and finally had to get it addressed. I know there would be an adjustment with them, but I didn’t expect them to help me relate to my students so much. The braces initially altered my speech making me sound like someone in need of a little TLC from an SLP. They helped me learn some helpful insights about the skills and strategies we teach our kids.


The braces messed with my /s/ primarily. I had a bit of a ‘slushy lisp’ going on. Initially I was kind of intrigued by it. I thought it would be a nice experience to try the strategies and skill that I work on all the time with my kids. I would get a first-hand experience on how difficult it really was to treat and correct this error. Here is what I learned…


• It takes a lot of playing around: When I first spoke with the Braces in and heard my /s/ I immediately tried to correct it but it wasn’t as easy as I thought. My tongue was doing its own thing now because of the braces. It took some effort and thought to control my tongue just elicit a simple /s/. I never had to think about making a sound before, so this was a bit eye opening. I had to play around with placement and practice it for quite a bit.


• It’s not as easy as it looks: Speech was effortful. I had to make a conscious effort to slow down so I could get proper placement. It was challenging at times to monitor my rate and placement. I would start out great, then pick up speed and start to lose my placement and therefore, my sound went downhill. It felt awkward to speak at a slower rate than what we are accustomed to. I really didn’t like it, I felt like everyone would hear this difference…but no one really did.


• Practice and Consistency Really Were the Key: I wanted needed my speech to be clear. After all that’s my job! I would practice in the car saying words to practice my placement. I would monitor my speech and keep my rate slow no matter how weird it felt, because that is what helped me speak more clearly. I did this a lot. It was annoying, but I did see improvement. It got easier to say words with a nice clear /s/ the more I practiced. I noticed I didn’t have to try as hard to get placement on the first try. I could a little faster and still be clear.




I still have to monitor and correct myself from time to time but now, people I meet have no clue I have my Invisalign in. The whole experience has been very eye opening and helped me connect with many of kids. In the future I will still remind my students that they need to monitor their rate but will be more understanding when they aren’t doing it all the time, I get it now. I have also learned a lot of progress depends on motivation. If you want change, and work for change, change will come. I may spend more time working on motivation with my kids than I have in the past. So as much as my mouth hurt those days, I am glad I did it.


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