Crooked teeth can impact both your looks and your speech abilities. Fortunately, there are treatment options available that can both correct smile imperfections and restore proper mechanics of the mouth. Learn more about how crooked teeth may affect your speech and solutions that can help.
Crooked Teeth and Speech Problems
“Missing and/or mal-aligned teeth can definitely cause speech issues because the cheeks, tongue, lips, and teeth work together during phonetic pronunciations of words,” Joshua Perlman, DMD, cosmetic dentist and owner of NYC Smile Spa in New York, tells WebMD Connect to Care.
According to Nemours Children’s Health, most parts of the mouth are essential for proper speech production. For example, the tongue hits the teeth or the roof of the mouth to produce certain sounds. Additionally, the teeth, along with the lips and tongue, help form enunciated words by controlling airflow out of the mouth.
“When teeth are misaligned (crooked/overlapping), the tongue is forced into an improper position, allowing air to pass through the teeth,” Mahnaz Rashti, DDS, a periodontist in Beverly Hills, tells WebMD Connect to Care.
“This creates a whistle-like sound. In fact, many people are unaware that their speech problems are caused by their poor oral health. By correcting the alignment of the teeth, the tongue will naturally be placed into the correct position, preventing any extra gaps or spaces for air to pass through. This would definitely help improve speech,” Rashti adds.
“We often have our patients practice their speech by reading out loud in front of a mirror. This practice aids in training the lips, cheek, teeth, and tongue to work together in perfect harmony,” Perlman says.
Solutions That Can Help
Teeth straightening with orthodontic treatment can help you achieve a healthy smile while also improving the way you bite, chew, and speak. There are several treatment options available, although your particular choices will depend on the type and severity of your dental misalignment.
Popular treatment options include:
Invisible aligners: Aligners are clear trays made of a specialized material that fit snugly over your teeth and gently move them into the correct position. Aligners are less conspicuous than braces and can be removed while eating, brushing, or flossing, according to the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO).
Traditional braces: You may need braces if your malocclusion cannot be corrected with aligners. Braces consist of brackets that are affixed to your teeth and a wire that runs through them. “The metal wire places a calculated force on the teeth to move them into the appropriate position,” Rashti says.
Crowns and veneers: These are cosmetic devices that can sometimes be used to address misalignment. “Custom-made porcelain pieces are placed individually on each tooth. Best of all, these options also allow the shape and color of the tooth to be cosmetically changed,” Rashti says.
Jaw surgery: In more severe cases of misaligned bites, jaw surgery may be recommended. This procedure corrects the irregularities of your jawbones to bring them into proper alignment, according to Mayo Clinic.
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