A lisp is when a person may not be able to use their tongue to properly pronounce words that contain the letter “s” or “z”. In people who have a lisp, the tongue doesn’t connect with the roof of the mouth to properly say words, causing words with “s” or “z” to have a “th” pronunciation.
Having a lisp can make speaking uncomfortable and can affect a child’s self-confidence as they grow up. But can orthodontic treatment actually help correct a lisp?
An Improper Bite May Influence Lisping
It’s possible that lisping can be caused by a malocclusion, which is the technical term for
misaligned teeth, but it can also refer to an improper bite .An improper bite is when the teeth don’t fit together correctly, which can prevent the tongue from properly connecting with the roof of the mouth for proper pronunciation. Incorrect bites that may cause a lisp include:
- An overbite, in which the top teeth extend too far over the bottom teeth .
- An open bite, in which the upper and lower rows of teeth don’t touch when the mouth
is shut .
- An underbite, in which the lower teeth extend beyond the front teeth when the mouth
is at rest.
The good news is that orthodontic treatment can correct all of these bite problems, which may help improve or completely correct a lisp.
What Else Can Cause a Lisp?
If your bite isn’t the issue, there are other things that can cause a lisp, including a tongue tie—in which the connective tissue underneath the tongue is too short or tight—or a tongue thrust, in which the tongue protrudes through the front teeth when the mouth is at rest.
Others may have a lisp simply because they’ve learned to pronounce words incorrectly. If your child has a lisp, getting a consultation with an orthodontist can help rule out any bite problems that could be making correct pronunciation difficult or impossible.
Follow Up With Your Orthodontist
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends getting your child evaluated for braces no later than age seven . Getting an evaluation by this age can help you determine if your child could have an incorrect bite or misaligned teeth that can impact their speech, dental hygiene, and overall quality of life.
If you or your child has a lisp, don’t overlook the underlying factors that could cause this condition, including a bite that can be corrected with orthodontic treatment. Modern orthodontic treatment offers a variety of devices from clear aligners to traditional braces and even ceramic or lingual braces to support a healthy and beautiful smile!