OrthodontistsMost people imagine orthodontic treatment is an aesthetic procedure which is designed to improve the appearance of their smile. In fact, orthodontics can do far more than merely provide you with more attractive teeth as it can correct a number of other problems you almost certainly haven’t considered. For example, were you aware that poorly aligned teeth can affect your speech?

Speech Impediments Caused by Poorly Aligned Teeth

Common speech impediments may be caused by poorly aligned teeth include such as lisping, mispronouncing words beginning with “S” or “T”, or slurring words. Sometimes misaligned teeth can also cause whistling. One of the most common causes of speech impediments is having an overbite or overjet which can result in buck teeth. To pronounce your words correctly, it’s important that your teeth can bite together properly. When teeth bite together properly it creates a seal allowing your tongue to swallow properly and to sit in the roof of the mouth. If someone has an overbite or overjet, the tongue is used to create the seal instead of teeth which can create a speech impediment. Another common cause of speech disorders is having a crossbite or underbite and where there is insufficient room for the tongue to enunciate the correct sounds.

Who Is More at Risk of Developing Speech Disorders?

Sometimes speech disorders are inherited so if you or your parents or brothers or sisters have grown up with poorly aligned teeth and a tendency to lisp or mumble, then there is a good chance your kids could have the same problems. However, there are other factors that can affect the development of teeth and their alignment. Children who use pacifiers for more than the first couple of years of life are more at risk. Thumb and finger sucking beyond age three or so can also affect the development of a child’s teeth and jaws. This is because sucking a thumb can elongate the upper jaw, pulling it outwards so it becomes narrower. Children who suck their thumb are more at risk of developing prominent or buck teeth and their teeth are less likely to fit together correctly.

It’s not just your speech that could be at risk, as there are other health problems that can be caused by misaligned teeth and where orthodontic treatment could help.

How Orthodontic Problems Can Cause Headaches or Neck Pain or TMJ Disorders

A poor bite can affect your health in other ways, even if it doesn’t impact your speech. This is because it can create an imbalance in the function of your joints, muscles, tendons, and bones in your head and neck area, so they cannot work together harmoniously. When this imbalance occurs, it can cause headaches or neck pain. Realigning your teeth can correct these imbalances, restoring proper function and relieving problems with headaches or neck pain.

Your temporomandibular joints are responsible for moving your lower jaw, connecting it to the base of your skull. They allow you to comfortably move your lower jaw, so you can eat and talk properly. When you have bite problems, this can affect your jaw joints and the muscles which move them causing TMJ disorder or TMD. Sometimes orthodontic treatment can help to properly align the jaws, relieving the pressure on your jaw joints.

What Are the Warning Signs That You Have Misaligned Teeth?

You might have noticed your teeth are a little crooked but how can you know if they are significantly misaligned and could be affecting your speech or dental health? Ideally, when you bite your teeth should fit together quite well. Your upper teeth will bite slightly outside your lower teeth so that the inner cusps of your back teeth (the pointed edges nearest your tongue) fit nicely into the middle groove in your lower back teeth. When your teeth fit together correctly then it helps to guide your tooth movements as you chew food, ensuring that your jaws move properly. Properly aligned teeth are not overcrowded or rotated or twisted and are able to function correctly. In contrast, any problems with misalignment can create a problem called malocclusion. When you have malocclusion, your teeth will not fit together properly, and you might find that some teeth bite together while others do not meet at all, for example, if you have an open bite then your upper front teeth will not close properly over your lower front teeth. Often people with poorly misaligned teeth will find they frequently bite the insides of their cheeks when they try to chew food.

When to See an Orthodontist?

It might be time to make an appointment with an "orthodontist near me" if you or another family member is having problems pronouncing certain words or sounds. Dr. Fedora Katz at Silver Lake Orthodontics, covers some great info about tips for finding the best Orthodontist near you.

A consultation may also help if you find it difficult to make yourself clearly understood. Often parents will notice a child is having problems with their speech. If this sounds familiar, then don’t hesitate to seek treatment because communication is vitally important for allowing your child to learn and grow and comfortably interact with others. It is also worth having your bite checked if you’ve noticed you have developed headaches or neck pain or that it has become uncomfortable to move your lower jaw. Dr. Ballard can carefully assess your bite and the alignment of your teeth, and your jaw function to see if orthodontic treatment could be a good solution.

A Range of Advanced Treatments is Available

There is a considerable range of treatments available to remedy problems with speech and to correct poorly aligned teeth. Dr. Ballard will be able to provide a properly customized solution using the most advanced orthodontic techniques. The exact treatment recommended will depend on your age and the problems requiring correction.

When a young child develops speech impediments then an early orthodontic evaluation can be extremely useful. The nice thing about treating children is that often it is possible to use their growth spurts to help guide the growth and development of children’s jaws. This can be especially useful in correcting problems caused by thumb sucking.

Adult orthodontics is an increasingly popular option for people who may have seen their teeth move position as they get older or whose bite may have changed due to poorly fitting or aging restorations including fillings, and crowns and bridges, causing malocclusion. Adult braces are generally designed to be extremely discreet, and treatment is easy to fit in with a busy lifestyle. Repositioning your teeth can be beneficial in helping to improve or maintain good oral hygiene which is especially important because of its close links with general health. Poor oral hygiene can often result in gum disease, a condition that has been linked to diabetes and heart problems. When your teeth are straighter and easier to keep clean, it reduces your risk of gum disease.

Where poor dental restorations are a problem and require replacement, Dr. Ballard can work with your general dentist as often it is better to reposition poorly aligned teeth before replacing aging dental restorations. This can help to provide a better treatment outcome and of course a more attractive smile.