Teeth & speech patterns

My son is 7 years old. His adenoids and tonsils have been removed. His speech is still nasal and slightly slurred. He has only lost two baby teeth on the bottom, and his second teeth are very crooked. He has a high, pointed palate which is rather abnormal. How can his speech be improved? What should be done about is crooked teeth?

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The position of a person's teeth and the shape of the palate definitely effect speech patterns. Because the palate essentially forms the floor of the nasal cavity, the shape of the palate may also be a factor that contributes to the nasal sound of your son's speech. Malpositioned or crowded teeth can affect tongue positioning, thereby affecting his speech patterns. The formation of a high vaulted palate can be an indication of the tongue not assuming its proper position in the mouth. An orofacial myologist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of facial muscular disorders. Most orofacial myologists note that the tongue should remain and rest in an elevated position within the confines of the hard palate on the roof of the mouth after a child reaches the age of 5 years.

You should obtain a referral to an orthodontist from your dentist. It is possible some orthodontic treatment can be started soon. Many orthodontic procedures can utilize your son's growth potential to create more space in the arches. One treatment may include rapid palatal expansion, which requires placement of a device to expand the palate, thus allowing the bone room to fill in. The treatment may take 3 months or so to complete. The lower arch may also need to be treated to allow for upper arch expansion and create the proper occlusion. Selected radiographs and a complete exam performed by an orthodontist will determine if there are any skeletal discrepancies. Some studies have also shown that palatal expansion can increase nasal permeability which, in turn, increases air flow. This may be an added benefit if it is determined that this treatment is necessary. Coordinate the orthodontic work with a speech pathologist and an orofacial myologist to determine the best treatment plan. There are probably multiple factors to consider regarding this issue.

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