Speech difficulties such as lisping, slurring, or mispronouncing certain consonants can make day-to-day life difficult. So what can you do for yourself or for your child to help overcome these challenges? Consider orthodontic treatment.
At Bird Smiles Orthodontics, orthodontics is not only about perfecting smile aesthetics but also about benefiting overall health. That’s why we’re your go-to orthodontist in Washington, DC, for orthodontic treatment — we can pair it with myofunctional speech therapy to improve your articulatory difficulties.
What Causes Speech Impediments?
Now, you might be wondering how orthodontics and speech issues are related. Well, what sometimes causes speech impediments is malocclusion of the teeth and jaws. These misalignment issues can also contribute to breathing problems or chewing difficulties. In contrast, straight teeth and an aligned jaw can improve these orofacial myofunctional disorders and transform your or your child’s quality of life. So here, Dr. Sonia Talley and Dr. Katie Clark want to share how orthodontic treatment can help with fixing speech disorders and other oral health issues.
Improving Speech with Braces, Invisalign®, or Other Appliances
Crowded, rotated, or irregularly spaced teeth can contribute to difficulties in forming certain sounds, especially “s, sh, or j” sounds. These are just a few of the common speech problems orthodontics can help with. Straight teeth and well-aligned upper and lower jaws allow the right small and large movements needed for pronouncing sounds properly.
As your Tenleytown certified orthodontists, we can straighten teeth and align jaws as a first — and significant — step in alleviating speech disorders. We’ll likely suggest our streamlined, modern braces or Invisalign for our teen and adult patients to help fix speech issues like a lisp or pronunciation problems. For young kids who still have a mix of baby and adult teeth, Dr. Talley and Dr. Clark might suggest early orthodontics with appliances like a palatal expander or limited braces.
Sounds overwhelming? Don’t worry. At Bird Smiles Orthodontics, we’re all about engaging, collaborative service, so we’ll walk through treatment options together and land on the right treatment that you feel good about and that works best for you.
So What is Myofunctional Therapy?
Once teeth and jaws are in their ideal positions with orthodontics, we offer myofunctional therapy to continue speech improvement, training your newly-aligned oral system to pronounce the right sounds with clarity.
What exactly is myofunctional therapy? In short, it’s oral therapy exercises that focus on addressing tongue and lip function, breathing patterns, and swallowing habits. Targeting these fundamentals helps train the oral muscles to function and work together correctly, ultimately enhancing speech and oral health. Myofunctional therapy is painless and typically lasts 6-12 months, depending on your progress.
Learning How to Breathe Again
Believe it or not, the way you breathe impacts how you speak. Remember earlier we mentioned that misaligned teeth and jaws can contribute to breathing problems? Orthodontic issues like a narrow palate or a severe overbite are related to mouth breathing, which isn’t optimal. Mouth breathing alters airflow, creating nasal resonance problems. Braces or Invisalign coupled with myofunctional therapy can help address mouth breathing, ensuring proper airflow and improved speech quality.
Swallowing Habits Relearned
An often overlooked aspect of speech improvement is how you swallow. The way you swallow impacts tongue posture, which in turn affects speech. An incorrect swallowing pattern — like tongue thrust — can both contribute to and result from misalignment of teeth and jaws, leading to articulatory difficulties. However, orthodontic treatment combined with myofunctional therapy aims to correct unhelpful swallowing habits, retraining the muscles to swallow properly for better eating and speech skills.
Simply put, orthodontics and myofunctional therapy can provide a new lease on life with benefits like:
Improved Speech Clarity:
Correcting misaligned teeth and jaws improves the complex interactions among your tongue and lip function, your teeth and jaws.
Fixing speech disorders can boost self-esteem and confidence, leading to improved social interactions and overall well-being.
Long-Term Oral Health:
Straight teeth not only makes speaking easier but also contribute to more effective oral hygiene, reducing susceptibility to tooth decay and cavities.
Your Go-To Orthodontist for Addressing Speech Disorders & Oral Habits
Now that you’re more informed about what causes speech impediments and the positive benefits of orthodontics and myofunctional therapy, give us a shout. As a boutique orthodontic practice, we approach patient care first — with kindness and great relationships, an eye for detail, and a passion for smile perfection.
Schedule a visit to our high-tech, cozy, boutique office to start your journey towards speaking with clarity and confidence.