Could Speech Difficulties Be Related to Orthodontic Problems?

Certainly, there are a number of speech impediments that relate back to orthodontic issues, says Steubenville orthodontist Scott Grosser DMD. When it comes to the most common types of speech problems, Dr. Grosser says most are broken down into two main categories: hypernasality and articulation.

The medical term hypernasality refers to a condition where a person gets too much air in his nose, creating what results in a nasal-like sound when he speaks. When more air is flowing into the nasal cavity than should be, these types of hypernasality issues are the result. According to Dr. Grosser, patients with cleft palates often suffer from this problem. Regardless of what is causing a patient’s hypernasality problems to exist, however, it is the job of an orthodontist to find a solution. In Steubenville, Dr. Grosser says the most common solution for patients with hypernasality is to find a way to block the extra air from going into the mouth.

The other category of speech impediment problems that affect children have to do with articulation. Certain tooth-related alignment issues, such as overcrowding and rotated teeth, can lead to problems with articulation. Namely, some people have problems articulating what they are trying to say because their teeth are taking up too much space in their mouths. In most cases in Steubenville where articulation problems are present, Dr. Grosser says the orthodontist should be looking for ways to open up space in the mouth to get rid of the issue.

The way that overcrowding issues can affect speech has to do with the tongue’s position. Dr. Grosser says that when too many teeth are overtaking the inside of a person’s mouth, the tongue has nowhere to go. Additionally, a condition known as tongue thrusting—which is what happens when someone’s tongue continually pushes his front teeth forward—can create orthodontic problems that need to be addressed with the use of braces.

There may be some cases where a person’s speech impediment isn’t caused by having too many teeth, but rather a palate that is too small. For patients with especially narrow palates, it can be difficult to create enough space for the tongue to be able to move around unencumbered. As Dr. Grosser explains, if left ignored this type of issue can result in the tongue dropping even lower in the oral cavity in the mouth; thus creating an even more significant speech impediment.

Although Dr. Grosser says he does not know if there have been many great cases made for spacing and crowding causing articulation problems on their own, the case can be made that these types of issues lead to the tongue not having enough room in the mouth. This specifically would be what makes speaking clearly very difficult for people with this type of tooth crowding problem.

From his practice in Steubenville, Dr. Grosser says he would recommend that anyone with a speech impediment issue make an appointment with an orthodontist to find out more about what could be causing the condition. Although treatment plans can vary, minor articulation problems can sometimes be fixed simply by putting on a set of conventional braces and straightening out the teeth.

*Disclaimer: The information on this website is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your healthcare provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with an appropriate healthcare provider.

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