How Does Malocclusion Affect Speech

How Does Malocclusion Affect Speech?

Jan 16 2017

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Our overall oral health and tooth positioning play a vital role in everything from chewing to speech. When we suffer from dental issues, we may have a hard time performing everyday activities like eating and talking. Malocclusion is a common dental issue that affects many people (especially children) and leads to speech impediments and pronunciation problems.

What is malocclusion?

Teeth alignment is known as occlusion. Anytime the teeth are misaligned, it is referred to as malocclusion. Misalignment can be in the form of:

  • Overcrowding - When the jaw is underdeveloped and the teeth are forced to crowd around it.
  • Crossbite - When teeth are closer to the cheek or tongue.
  • Underbite - When the lower jaw protrudes.
  • Overbite - When the upper jaw protrudes.
  • Open bite - When the teeth in the upper and lower jaw do not touch.

What causes malocclusion?

Unfortunately, most people inherit malocclusion. However, there are other causes of teeth misalignment like thumb sucking, prolonged bottle feeding, frequent pacifier use after age three, jaw injuries, impacted teeth, poor dental care (improperly fitted braces, crowns and fillings), cleft lip and palate, enlarged adenoids or tonsils that lead to airway obstructions, and jaw or mouth tumors.

How does malocclusion affect speech?

Speech and dental positioning go hand in hand. We use our teeth, lips and tongue to create sounds, and if any of these elements are out of place, speech will be altered. In order to properly articulate consonants, we need our tooth structure to be intact. Because malocclusion is caused by imprecise tooth placement, it can affect speech, leading to lisps (difficulty pronouncing “s” or “z” sounds). Furthermore, people who suffer from malocclusion can have difficulty pronouncing strident sounds (where there is a sound emphasis on a letter or group of letters like in the words “beige,” “ship” and “jump”). In order to pronounce strident sounds the front teeth need to be aligned against the direction in which the stream of air strikes before it escapes from our mouth. When the front teeth cannot meet properly, strident sounds are harder to say.

What dental treatments can fix malocclusion?

Invisalign teeth aligners provide an ideal way to treat malocclusion. Unlike traditional braces, Invisalign are discreet and removable, allowing you to eat and drink as you normally would.

If you or your child is suffering from malocclusion, we can help. Contact Garden Dental for more information.

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