Did you know that approximately 5% of children aged 3-17 have some sort of speech disorder in the US? Problems such as stuttering or lisps can be especially common among children, and are something they often grow out of in time. There are a number of potential causes of speech impediments, both physical and psychological causes.
So, how does your oral health factor in when it comes to speech impediments? Let’s look at some of the ways your oral health can impact speech disorders and how you can overcome them.
Physical causes of speech impediments
While speech impediments can be psychological and extremely complex to understand, there are also some simple physical causes to them, particularly when we’re young and our mouths are still changing and developing. Something as simple as a baby tooth falling out naturally can cause a child to temporarily have a lisp, meaning they struggle to pronounce certain sounds properly. Having a gap between the front teeth can cause a similar effect.
Speech impediments can also be apparent if someone has an overbite or underbite caused by a misaligned jaw, for example. Problems with the tongue can also cause impediments, particularly tongue tie, which occurs when the tissue that attaches underneath the tongue is tighter than normal, restricting the tongue’s range of movement.
Speech problems can also develop if an infant has an overreliance on a pacifier while they are initially learning to speak. In this situation, children essentially learn to speak around the pacifier, which can impact their speech in the long term.
How to overcome a speech impediment
As already mentioned, many speech impediments will resolve themselves in time, particularly with missing baby teeth as the lisp will usually go away once the adult tooth grows in its place. If a gap between your teeth is causing a speech impediment, then this can usually be fixed using braces or something similar like Invisalign. A chipped or cracked tooth can also be repaired with a filling or dental cap, or an implant can be used in the case of more serious damage or a missing adult tooth.
If a speech impediment is more severe and can’t be fixed with a simple dental procedure, then speech therapy can help you or your child overcome it. This typically includes exercises to strengthen the muscles in and around the mouth, activities around speech, breathing exercises, and various other aspects.
If you or your child is in need of dental care to correct a speech impediment, or if you simply need a check-up from your family dentist, then contact Advance Family Dentists to book an appointment or to find out more about our practice in Advance, NC.