People who lisp, slur, or have difficulty producing certain sounds are often made fun of. But did you know that some speech impediments may be a result of dental issues? If you lisp, have a problem forming the th sound, or whistle as you speak, you may have a misalignment or malocclusion of your teeth.
Luckily, with proper diagnosis and treatment, these dental issues—and the speech defects they cause—can be fixed.
Dental Causes of Speech Impediments
A person whose teeth are not properly aligned or spaced may experience speech disorders. When the alignment of the teeth is off, the teeth, tongue, and lips cannot work together to produce sounds and speech in the right way. This also happens when there is a significant gap between the teeth or when there isn’t enough space for the tongue because of a crossbite or underbite.
Gaps between teeth can make it difficult for a person to produce ess sounds. An open bite, which is when both upper and lower teeth protrude and do not align when the mouth is closed, can cause a lisp.
If you have a speech impediment, visit an orthodontist to see if your teeth alignment is affecting your speech. Braces can correct malocclusions and other dental issues like gapped teeth. As a result, they may also reduce or end your speech problems.
If you have a child with a speech disorder, even a mild one, take him or her to an orthodontist. Any tooth and/or jaw problems that may be causing impaired speech are more easily diagnosed and corrected during the developmental years. This is why the American Association of Orthodontists says that all children should visit an orthodontist for an evaluation by the age of 7.