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Back in May in got braces, Invisalign to be exact. I had bite issues for years and finally had to get it addressed. Since I never had braces as a child, Invisalign seem the least terrifiyig of my options. 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 helps me learn some helpful insights about the skills and strategies we teach our kids.


Have the braces in 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 Invisaligns 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 hurts these days, I am glad I did it.



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Meet Maureen

Hey there! I’m Maureen Wilson, a school-base SLP who is data driven and caffeine powered. My passion is supporting other pediatric SLPs by teaching them how to harness the power of literacy and data to help their students achieve their goals…without sacrificing time they don’t have.

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8 Responses

  1. i had the same experience when I first got my Invisalign. My boss did notice. But the changes only lasted a day or so before I was able to correct, that is as long as I monitored my rate!

  2. I can totally relate! It took me a good three weeks to get a decent /s/ sound after I got my new Invisaligns – and it’s still not perfect. But I can definitely relate to my students with articulation difficulties a lot better now!

  3. What do you recommend for speech kids? I have an 8th grader and 6th grade that are still in speech. R’s are hard for them. They have the rest of their sounds now! My oldest also muddles her speech. I constantly ask her to clean up her speech (improve articulation). Both can say the sounds, but don’t seem motivated to speak clearly except at speech or when I give them the look.

    They both need braces. I prefer the Invisalign option because tartar has been a big issue and I think it would be really difficult to brush the traditional braces properly. The orthodontist agreed.

    Will they be able to improve their speech with Invisalign? Would the new difficulty speaking actually be a better motivator to articulate clearly? Or am I setting them up for failure?

    I don’t want to put braces off… They won’t want to be the only ones with braces around…

    Please let me know your thoughts.

    1. Hey Alissa! When it comes to braces they actually recommend the traditional style for adolescents because how on top of it you have to be with cleaning and care. Teens can have a hard time brushing after each time they eat anything, not drinking pop while they are wearing them. They need to be worn with a lot of vigilance, which even as and adult was a stretch at times because of the demands of my day. I was also considering the ceramic ( tooth colored ) braces, those may be something to check out. As for their speech sounds, sometimes older students need to be intrinsically motivated to really put in that constant awareness and effort for their speech sounds. Most of the time that happens as they get older and become aware they don’t sound like their friends. If R is their challenge straightening their teeth will not have that much of an impact since R is produce by tongue movement. Invisalign can make it difficult to speak until you get used to them because it fits over your teeth front and back, rather just on the front like traditional braces. I would ask your kids if their speech sounds bother them and get their perspective on it. I hope that helps!

      1. Thanks for your opinion. I am still struggling on what direction to go!

        As far as motivation, my 13 yr old is definitely not there – she really doesn’t think her speech is an issue. I wish I knew how to motivate her more. All I can do is keep having her repeat when we talk. I just don’t want to discourage her from talking! That is tough when teens really want to just go to their rooms and hang by themselves!!!

        The 11 yr old is motivated. She can recognize that she is difficult to understand and wants to be understood more easily.

        Different personalities… Thanks!

  4. I had a similar experience when I decided to try and learn a new language. It gave me a new appreciation for what it’s like for my kids to learn how to read, since they are, in a way, “learning a new language”. It helps you to be more patient when they’re struggling to understand something that seems like it should be obvious.

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