Lisps are a common form of speech impediment and can have a serious impact on a child’s self-confidence. A lisp results from the tongue not being able to connect properly to the roof of the mouth. This leads to an inability to pronounce certain sounds, most noticeably ‘s’ and ‘z’, which will sound as ‘th’ when speaking.
Treatments such as orthodontics can help correct this speech impediment.
An improper bite or misaligned teeth can be a reason why a person has a lisp. When the teeth are misaligned they can stop the tongue from properly connecting to the roof of the mouth. There are three types of improper bite which may cause a lisp. These are:
An underbite, where the lower teeth protrude ahead of the upper teeth when the teeth are together.
An overbite, where the upper teeth overlap the bottom teeth when the teeth are together.
An open bite, where both sets of teeth slant forward and therefore do not meet when the mouth is closed.
The good news is that an improper bite can be addressed with orthodontics. It is recommended by the American Association of Orthodontists that you have your child assessed for teeth alignment issues by the time they are seven years old. An orthodontist can see at this age whether your child’s teeth are developing an improper bite and discuss all relevant treatment options.
Lisps can occur due to pronunciation issues. A child may learn to pronounce words in a way which sounds like a lisp. If your dentist has not found an alignment issue with your child’s teeth, then their lisp may result from the way they have learned to pronounce certain sounds.
The tongue position plays a pivotal role in lisps and there are two further conditions involving the tongue which can cause this speech impediment. These are:
Tongue tie, where movement of the tongue is limited due to connective tissue under the tongue being too short
Tongue thrust, where the tongue protrudes out through the front teeth
Finding the underlying reasons for a lisp is key in helping with its correction. If someone has an improper bite or misaligned teeth then orthodontics can help straighten their teeth, allowing the tongue full movement within the mouth. This should see their lisp corrected.
Talk to your dentist about the lisp or bite problem; getting treatment early helps to ensure the best results.