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Why do I sound weird after braces?

Getting braces can lead to some changes in the way you speak. Many people notice their voice sounds different right after getting braces put on. The good news is that this change in your voice is only temporary. Here’s a look at why you may sound different after getting braces and what you can expect as your mouth adjusts.

Your mouth needs to adapt

One of the main reasons your voice sounds different after getting braces is that your mouth needs time to adapt to the new hardware. Braces change the entire environment inside your mouth. Getting braces involves having metal brackets glued to each tooth and wires threaded through the brackets to pull and push the teeth. This places new objects inside your mouth that your tongue, lips, and cheeks need to learn to navigate around.

At first, your mouth feels stuffed up and crowded with all the new braces. Your lips, tongue, and cheeks need time to get used to the feeling of braces and learn how to move around them efficiently. Until your mouth adapts, your speech is likely to sound different.

Your bite has changed

Braces also change the way your teeth fit together. Getting braces involves using wires and elastic bands to shift your teeth into proper alignment. This means your bite will be different after you get braces put on. The change in your bite can temporarily affect your speech.

When your bite is off, your teeth, tongue, lips, and jaws may not have their usual range of motion. Certain sounds are harder to pronounce clearly when your bite doesn’t allow your mouth to move the right way. As your teeth settle into their new alignment, your bite will adjust and your clarity of speech should improve.

Pain and discomfort

The pain and discomfort of new braces can also alter your speech. It’s common to experience mouth pain and tenderness for a few days after getting braces put on. Braces rub and put pressure on your cheeks, lips, and tongue as they shift your teeth into place.

This discomfort makes it harder to move your mouth properly. You end up mumbling or slurring words to avoid rubbing your appliances against tender or irritated areas. The pain tends to ease within a week as your mouth adjusts. Proper pain medication can help manage braces discomfort so it doesn’t affect your speech as much.

Excess saliva

Increased saliva is another side effect that can temporarily change your voice with braces. Your mouth produces more saliva for the first week or two after getting braces. All the new appliances in your mouth activate your salivary glands.

Excess spit in your mouth can give your voice a mushy, garbled quality. You may need to pause to swallow more often when speaking. As your mouth gets accustomed to braces over time, your saliva levels will return to normal.

Sore throat

Braces can also cause soreness in your throat. The metal brackets and wires sometimes rub and poke your cheeks, gums, and tongue. This irritation can lead to inflammation. An inflamed, sore throat alters your voice box and vocal cords, affecting your tone and resonance.

It may help to take an over-the-counter pain reliever to reduce throat inflammation. Be gentle on your throat while it heals by avoiding yelling or throat clearing. The soreness typically lasts only a few days as your mouth lining toughens up.


One of the most common speech issues with new braces is lisping. A lisp means you are mispronouncing “s” sounds. For example, saying “sunshine” as “thunshine.” Lisping with braces happens because the brackets and wires change the position of your teeth and tongue.

Your orthodontist may use blue wax or orthodontic wax to help your cheeks and lips glide smoothly over the braces. Take care when speaking to allow your tongue to adapt to the new position of your teeth. With practice, you can learn to keep your tongue tip behind your top teeth to reduce lisping.

Tongue thrusting

Some people develop tongue thrust issues after getting braces. Tongue thrusting means pushing your tongue forward against your teeth when you swallow or make certain sounds.

New braces encourage tongue thrusting because they change your bite alignment. As your teeth move, your tongue wants to follow its normal patterns but can’t due to the braces blocking the way. A speech therapist can help you re-train your tongue to thrust less often to improve speech clarity.

Muffled, garbled speech

Braces can make some people sound muffled and garbled. Your speech may lack clear diction because your lips, tongue, and cheeks are still adjusting to the braces.

Give your mouth time to adapt to the appliances. Take care to enunciate words slowly and clearly. Move your lips and tongue exaggeratedly to compensate for the braces. Record yourself speaking and listen back to hear if certain sounds need more practice.

How long does the speech change last?

The good news is that the speech adjustments caused by braces are temporary in most cases. Your mouth typically adapts to braces within 2 to 4 weeks. During this time, be patient and give your mouth a chance to get used to the new appliances.

Practice speaking slowly and precisely. Read out loud for a few minutes each day to re-train your lips and tongue. Within a month, your speech should sound normal again as your mouth becomes accustomed to braces.

Tips for adjusting to braces speech

Here are some tips to help you adapt to braces speech more quickly:

  • Speak slowly and over-enunciate words
  • Read out loud daily to practice clear speech
  • Limit sticky, chewy foods that could loosen your wires
  • Ask friends and family for feedback on your speech clarity
  • Use orthodontic wax to reduce poking and rubbing
  • Take OTC pain medication as needed for mouth soreness
  • Gargle with saltwater to soothe mouth irritation
  • Avoid habits like pen chewing that could damage braces
  • See a speech therapist if speech issues persist beyond 4 weeks

When to see your orthodontist

Most braces speech challenges resolve on their own within a month. But call your orthodontist right away if you experience:

  • Severe or worsening lisp
  • Painful sores or cuts inside your mouth
  • Broken, damaged, or loose braces
  • Speech impediment that persists longer than one month

These issues may require adjustment of your braces or extra care to allow your mouth to adapt properly. Left unchecked, they could prolong speech problems and disrupt your orthodontic treatment.

Can speech therapy help?

Speech therapy is an option if braces are causing speech difficulties that last more than 4 weeks. A speech therapist can work with you on exercises to improve enunciation with braces. Speech therapy helps re-train your mouth muscles to produce sounds correctly.

Exercises may focus on mechanics like:

  • Tongue placement
  • Making specific sounds like “s”
  • Moving your lips and tongue
  • Strengthening your mouth muscles
  • Controlling saliva

Speech therapy is rarely needed for basic braces cases. But it can be beneficial if you still struggle with significant speech impediments after the initial braces adjustment period.

Will my speech go back to normal?

In nearly all cases, your regular speech patterns will return after your mouth adjusts to braces. It may take 4 to 8 weeks to fully adapt. But your speech should incrementally improve during this period.

Focus on speaking slowly and precisely. Check in with friends or record yourself to monitor your progress. With time and practice, your speech will sound normal again. Some residual issues like a minor lisp may occasionally arise when you get braces tightened or changed. But overall, your speech will go back to normal by the time you complete orthodontic treatment.


Adjusting to braces causes temporary speech changes like lisping, muffled speech, and sore throat. Your mouth needs time to adapt to the new braces before your speech returns to normal. Proper pain management, orthodontic wax, reading out loud, and speech therapy in severe cases can help manage issues. In most cases, your regular speech patterns will return within 1-2 months as your mouth gets used to braces.