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Cat got your kid's tongue? An oral appliance could fix speech impediments

Posted May 17, 2018 11:35 a.m. EDT

If left uncorrected, speech impediments could become a permanent habit that lasts a lifetime. (grkic/Bigstock.com)

This article was written for our sponsor, Charles Ashley Mann, DDS & Associates.

Lisps and other speech impediments in children may be endearing to parents, but they can lead to prolonged incorrect speech and even embarrassment as children get older. If left uncorrected, speech impediments could become a permanent habit that lasts a lifetime.

A speech disorder is defined as condition in which a person has problems creating or forming proper speech sounds needed to communicate with others. This can include, but is not limited to, lisps, stuttering and other speech impediments.

Many parents and guardians enlist the help of speech therapists and pathologists to help correct their child's speech, but there is also an unassuming medical professional that could help — a dentist.

It may be hard to believe, but a dentist can provide your child with a simple oral appliance that can correct your child’s speech impediment.

How the HealthyStart system can work to correct speech issues

HealthyStart is an oral appliance therapy system for children that helps correct bad oral habits like mouth breathing, and improves the overall development of the teeth and jaw. The silicon, BPA-free devices are fitted for your child’s mouth by a dentist or orthodontist.

Most children wear the appliance for the majority of the time at night, unaware of the work that is going on as they slumber.

During these evening hours, the mouthguard-like device slowly retrains your child’s tongue, while also keeping the lips closed. This helps mitigate things like tongue thrusting, which can cause your child difficulty when it comes to pronouncing "S" and "Th" sounds, for example.

The HealthyStart system process guides the teeth, tongue and jaw into proper alignment in a holistic way. This habituation allows for the proper use of the tongue against the teeth and the roof the mouth, which is how correct phonetic sounds of words are formulated.

"For children who are struggling with speech impediments, it's usually one of two things: they're tongue-tied or they're having a hard time learning where to place their tongue," said Dr. C. Ashley Mann, a dentist in Cary.

Mann explained, "Tongue thrusters with an open bite, they tend to want to put their tongue out and have a hard time with certain sounds — they can't put that tongue where they need to. This habit corrector helps guide the tongue up to the roof of the mouth, which is where a lot of the problems [originate]."

Types of speech impediments helped by oral appliance therapy
  • A lisp is a speech defect that results in difficulty pronouncing "s," "z" and other sounds like "th." This is usually due to the tongue protruding through the teeth or touching the upper front teeth when speaking.
  • Stuttering is described as distorted speech of words characterized by an interruption in the rhythm of speaking, usually by blocks or spasms when trying to communicate words or sounds.

If your child's speech impediment is related to the physiological nature of his oral composition, the HealthyStart system could be the simple solution you've been looking for. A crisp and clear conversation is only a mouthpiece away.

This article was written for our sponsor, Charles Ashley Mann, DDS & Associates.