For many, orthodontics is mainly about fixing crooked teeth and getting a straight, beautiful smile. But for those dealing with articulatory difficulties, braces can also help fix issues like lisping, stuttering or difficulty pronouncing specific letters. Board-certified orthodontist, Dr. VanderWall, and the team at Vanderwall Orthodontics are experts in designing healthy smiles that, among many other benefits, also can contribute to fixing common speech problems.
So What causes speech impediments?
The causes of speech problems can vary, from developmental issues to oral muscle coordination to the ways oral structures are aligned (or misaligned). The last is what your Triangle area orthodontist will talk about here: how orthodontics can help.
Crooked teeth or a misaligned bite can affect how the tongue, lips, and teeth interact when you talk. Certain sounds require specific tongue placements against the teeth, and misaligned teeth can hinder the accurate pronunciation of these sounds. An example? Sounds like “s” and “z” are made by proper positioning of the tongue against the upper front teeth. But if these teeth are misaligned, a lisp might develop.
Other articulatory difficulties include mispronouncing “d” and “t”, which can come from having an open bite. Or whistling when talking, which can happen because of improper spacing or gaps between teeth. Some people also experience slurring when they talk because they don’t have enough space in their mouth for their tongue to move properly.
What are the most common orthodontic issues that can lead to speech problems? Misalignment like the following are the main culprits when it comes to what causes speech impediments:
- Overjet teeth
- Spaces and gaps between teeth
- Overbite, open bite, crossbite, and underbite
- Crowded teeth
Improving Your Speech with Braces
The good news is that fixing teeth and jaw alignment issues can help fix a speech impediment. Yes, common speech problems like a lisp or whistling? Orthodontics can help.
With an expert orthodontist like Dr. VanderWall, braces can help fix articulatory difficulties by:
1. Improving Tongue Positioning
Bet you didn’t think about how the tongue is affected by braces! But yes, when braces align teeth properly, the result is both better tongue posture and a good surface for the tongue to push against when speaking. This is crucial for producing accurate sounds and fixing a speech impediment.
2. Better Lip Control
Misaligned teeth can negatively affect lip movement and control, making it difficult to form certain sounds. Braces can help a speech impediment by creating a more stable foundation for the lips to move as they should when you talk.
3. Correcting Bite Issues
Braces address bite problems that influence the way the upper and lower jaws come together when you speak. Like we mentioned earlier, articulatory difficulties with “d” and “t” can come from a bite problem like an open bite. Once an open bite is aligned well with braces, your teeth and dental arches are positioned for better pronunciation of words and sounds.
4. Altering The Oral Cavity Shape
Another thing braces do is gradually adjust the shape of your oral cavity, like opening the upper or lower arch. Improving your speech with braces means they give your teeth and tongue the space they need to work harmoniously together during speech.
How Orthodontics Can Help Kids With Articulatory Difficulties
Now if you’re a parent, you might be wondering how to help a child with speech articulation problems. Early orthodontics like a palatal expander, space maintainer, or braces can do a lot to fix common kids’ speech issues like lisping or whistling. Phase 1 orthodontics — another name for early orthodontics — also often helps make orthodontics in the teen years easier.
Combining Braces and Speech Therapy for Articulation Problems
So now we know braces can address speech problems related to dental misalignment, but it’s not always a full solution on its own. For some patients, braces are a first step in fixing a speech impediment. Once teeth and jaw are properly aligned, the next step is speech therapy. A speech therapist can help you train your mouth, lips, and tongue to work properly in your newly-straightened smile.
Your Triangle Area Orthodontist for Improving Your Speech with Braces
Dr. VanderWall and the friendly VanderWall Orthodontics team are here to help patients with improving their speech with braces. We offer a variety of modern braces such as InBrace lingual braces and the completely custom LightForce braces.
Whether you’re looking for early orthodontics for younger kids or comprehensive braces treatment for teens and adults, our expert, friendly team will get you on the road to speaking better with a braces treatment plan designed just for you.
Book a free initial consultation at our Durham, Raleigh, or Cary office and start your journey towards a healthier smile, improved speech, and better quality of life.