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Teen girl at orthodontist getting braces.

3 Speech Problems that Orthodontic Treatment Can Help

If your child has a speech problem, you may want to make an appointment with an orthodontist along with a speech therapist.

Orthodontics is a specialty within dentistry that focuses on correcting misalignments of the teeth and jaw and is proven to be an effective speech problem treatment.  A number of speech problems are caused by misalignment of the tooth and jaw.

#1 Lisping

Overbites and gaps are primary causes for lisping. Overbites occur when there is too much of an overlap between the upper teeth and the bottom teeth. This misalignment can often be corrected with braces, one of the most common orthodontic treatments.

#2 Slurring or Whistling

If there is not enough room for the tongue—which is often the case with crossbites or underbites—speech is often affected. This is caused when the structure of the jaw or placement of teeth restricts movement of the tongue. For those with gaps, the misplacement of the tongue while speaking allows air to escape, resulting in a whistling sound. In these situations, braces can often open up room for the tongue by aligning the teeth.

#3 Mispronouncing words that begin with an “S,” “T,” or “Ch”

It makes sense that when teeth are not where they are supposed to be, certain sounds are difficult to pronounce. Sounds that require the tongue to connect with the teeth—like “S,” “T” or “Ch”—are most impacted. When teeth come together properly, an airtight seal is created for the tongue to swallow correctly in the roof of the mouth.  If there is an opening—similar to what is found in overjets (buck teeth) and openbites—the tongue creates the seal instead and causes mispronunciation. Orthodontic treatment can improve pronunciation by aligning teeth correctly.

What’s the Best Age to Seek Orthodontic Treatment for a Speech Problem?

According to the American Association of Orthodontists, it is recommended that all children be evaluated by age 7. After the age of 10, children are more significantly affected by language impairment. This can result in lower self-esteem and poor self-image compared to the children with no speech impediments.

While it may be difficult at first for children to adjust to life with braces, the long-term benefits far outweigh the temporary inconvenience. Speech therapists—usually available through school systems—can work with the children on word and sound pronunciation while they have braces and afterward.

If your child is struggling, incorporating orthodontics into their speech problem treatment may be the way to relief.

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