Are dental issues affecting your child’s speech?


Are dental issues affecting your child’s speech?

July 29, 2020 3:14 pm Published by

If you have noticed that your child is unable to talk, or isn’t talking as much as they should be for their age – dental issues might be responsible. Speech starts when your child usually has at least several teeth. Teeth are important to help your child make different speech sounds – the tongue, teeth, lips, and jaw all work together in just the right way. Without teeth, or if teeth are in the wrong places, it can be difficult for your child to make those sounds. Here are some of the main dental causes of those childhood speech problems.

Misaligned teeth

Also known as a malocclusion, this basically means that teeth aren’t lined up well. This could mean your child has too many teeth, and therefore there isn’t room for the tongue to move around normally, or that jaws are in the wrong place – due to an overbite, an underbite, or something similar. This means that consonants can be harder to say, or your child might form a lisp instead. These dental problems can be inherited, though they can also be caused by bad childhood habits such as excessive thumbsucking or use of a pacifier – both of which can move teeth when they are forming, so they are in the wrong places. The good news is that all of these conditions can be treated by your dentist. In most cases this involves braces from an orthodontist to move the teeth into the right position, while your child’s jaw is still developing and growing.

Tongue tie

Formally called ankyloglossia, this oral condition means that your child has a band of tissue ‘tying’ the tip of the tongue to the bottom of the mouth. This doesn’t just affect speech – but also breastfeeding, and later eating and drinking, too. Again, treatment is freely available which will fix the problem. Your dentist can perform an operation to free the band of tissue – called a frenectomy. This can be performed safely at any age. Your dentist will be able to advise when is best for your child, if they are suffering from the condition.

Losing teeth too early

Losing baby teeth early can also impact your child’s speech ability. This is because teeth are essential in learning to speak, and to form sounds. Early tooth loss could be due to an accident – a tooth being knocked out – or, it can be due to a fairly common dental problem called baby bottle tooth decay. This condition occurs usually when children are given sugary drinks, or drinks with a lot of natural sugars such as milk or juice, in a baby bottle for long periods such as at bedtime. The sugars feed bacteria in the mouth, over time causing tooth decay, and sometimes to the extent that teeth are lost early. For this reason, it’s really important to schedule regular six-monthly check-ups with your pediatric dentist to maintain the best oral health for your child.

Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders

This long name means that there is a muscular problem causing speech problems. This is common ‘tongue thrusting’ – where the tongue is pushed forward or to the side, instead of resting normally in the mouth. When teeth start to emerge, this movement can change their position so that certain speech sounds become more difficult. Tongue thrusting has a number of causes, with behaviors like teeth grinding, thumb sucking, and pacifier use
being at the top of the list. It can also be caused by a genetic problem such as enlarged tonsils.

f your child has speech problems and you think they might have any of these conditions, it’s best to see your pediatric dentist for further advice. At Drs. Nicolas & Asp center, we will carry out a dental examination and help you find the best treatment path for your child.

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