Here at Feil Orthodontics, we see patients daily who want straighter smiles. Whether it’s an overbite or crowded teeth, most people’s primary concern is the appearance of their teeth. However, as a trained orthodontist, Dr. Blake Feil knows more serious side effects can result from a crooked smile, including certain speech disorders.
In many cases, treating oral malocclusions can help correct issues with speaking in addition to the benefits of a beautiful new smile. But what exactly is the role of orthodontics in speech therapy, and how can it correct speech disorders? Let’s take a look!
What causes speech problems?
First, it helps to understand the role your teeth play in speaking. The tongue touches your teeth to produce certain sounds and requires space to move to produce others. Your teeth also control the airflow in your mouth, another essential element in creating speech.
There are several causes of speech impediments, including genetic conditions like cleft lip and palate, hearing deficits, and brain damage. Speaking requires a balance between the mouth, teeth, tongue, and jaw, so when these parts are out of alignment, it makes it difficult to talk clearly.
Types of speech problems
Bruxism is the act of grinding your teeth while you sleep. This condition can cause a sore jaw and, left untreated, can result in jaw disorders that affect speech.
When the upper and lower teeth extend forward from the jaw and do not fit together optimally when the mouth is closed, the problem is rooted in early childhood habits (thumb sucking). Open bite is a common cause of speech impediments and uneven tooth wear and can interfere with proper oral hygiene.
When there is significant space between two teeth, or a tooth is missing, it can be difficult to pronounce certain words or “ess” sounds.
Lisp or whistling
If you have a lisp, it’s difficult to pronounce the “s” and “z” sounds. Whistling sometimes accompanies a lisp, but not necessarily. Lisps are typically caused by an overbite when the teeth don’t touch correctly and allow in too much air.
Trouble pronouncing consonants
Certain malocclusions like crossbite or crowding can make it challenging to pronounce consonants or strings of consonants, like “t,” “n,” and “d.”
Crowded teeth can cause slurred speech since there isn’t room for proper tooth eruption or tongue movement.
Orthodontic treatment to correct speech issues
Dental malocclusions don’t go away on their own. If you suffer from these oral issues, you will need orthodontic treatment to align your teeth. We offer the following treatment options at our Bismarck, Mandan, and Beulah offices:
Metal braces can correct any misalignment at the root of your speech problems. The brackets Dr. Feil uses are made of stainless steel, nickel, and other high-quality metals, making them strong and effective.
Modern metal braces are much more comfortable and lighter than they used to be and work more quickly to align your teeth. These braces deliver excellent results and are especially useful in more severe or complicated cases.
Speech therapy paired with orthodontic treatment can help train your mouth and tongue to work together in harmony during and after treatment. Working with a speech therapist can help you adjust to your braces as they work to give you a straighter smile and improve your speaking ability.
Also known as ceramic braces, translucent braces, or aesthetic braces, clear braces work like metal braces with the added benefit of semi-translucent or tooth-colored ceramic brackets. Clear braces can better blend in with your natural smile for a more subtle treatment option.
Clear braces are slightly more fragile than traditional metal ones, so we may not recommend them for more severe cases or younger patients. However, they can still be a great option to correct oral issues and improve your speech.
Our in-house aligner system consists of clear, removable aligners customized to fit over your teeth. Like traditional braces, clear aligners apply gentle pressure to move your teeth into proper alignment and make it easier to speak, swallow, and clean your teeth.
Clear aligners give you more freedom and flexibility than other treatment options. There are no food restrictions since aligners are removed when eating or drinking, and it’s easy to keep your teeth and gums clean and healthy since you don’t have to work around wires and brackets.
Schedule a free consultation with Feil Orthodontics
Difficulty speaking can seriously affect your quality of life, and our team wants to help you overcome that barrier! If you have crowding, overbite, underbite, crossbite, or other oral issues affecting your speech, contact our office to schedule a free consultation. Dr. Feil will evaluate your bite and create a customized treatment plan to meet your needs.