Speaking of twin blocks....and speaking with twin blocks.
I had a Donabate patient at Swords Orthodontics the other day who asked me about the best way to get used to speaking while wearing twin blocks. I figured I'd do a blog post on it, because that's a great question.
It's a great question, because it’s right at the centre of twin block treatment. When we make twin blocks for a patient, they immediately change the position of the teeth and jaws and stretch the muscles of the mouth and lips. You can imagine if you’ve been used to all these things being a certain way for the last 10 years or more, even if that wasn’t an ideal way for these things to be, then a sudden change to them might get some getting used to.
The biggest single change for the patient (as opposed to their parents) is that speaking feels and sounds different.
DON’T PANIC! as a famous book once said. Speech will get back to normal very soon – in a few days – if you do a lot of speaking. You don’t even have to be speaking to anyone in particular, you could just read out loud from a book by yourself. But you do have to speak. It might sound a bit silly, and you might have a mouth full of spit, but if you keep at it, then the tongue and the mouth muscles adapt very quickly and your speech gets back to normal. When I review twin block patients that have been wearing their braces as they should, close to 24 hours a day and doing plenty of talking, then their speech is clear and easy to understand.
You can even try tongue twisters:
She sells sea shells on the sea shore, but the sea shells she sells cost six cents more!
I used to work in a different end of dentistry altogether, called oral surgery, and sometimes we’d do very serious operations where we’d have to remove a patient’s tongue because it had a very serious disease. This certainly did change their speech, but their speech would improve very quickly after the operation – because they had to speak with the mouth the way it was. Sometimes my orthodontic patients think it would be easier to take their braces out to speak, but this has significant problems to it:
- Their speech with the braces never improves if they don’t speak with the braces in place
- Their teeth don’t move in the direction we want if they aren’t wearing their braces the way we want
- Their teeth might move the wrong way while the braces are out
- If the braces are out of the mouth too long, then the teeth can move enough to stop the brace from fitting well
- The more time the braces are out of the mouth, the bigger the chance of them getting lost, broken, stolen, and sometimes even eaten by a dog!
So keep speaking with the braces in place is the best advice I have.