Many children lisp. Whether you find the habit cute or worrisome, it helps to know what may be causing it, especially if your little one is still lisping and soon to enter pre-school. Is lisping a dental issue and if so, should your child’s dentist get involved?
2 Common Types
Lisping may be caused by a variety of reasons. When the tongue habitually protrudes between the upper and lower front teeth, replacing the |s| and |z| sounds with the |th| sound, this is known as an interdental or frontal lisp. Similar to an interdental or frontal lisp, a dentalized lisp is caused when the tongue pushes against the front teeth when producing the |s| and |z| sounds.
An interdental or dentalized lisp is considered a part of normal speech development and often corrects itself by the time a child reaches the age of 4 ½, though some experts say lisping is common up until the age of 7 ½.
Other common lisps include: The lateral lisp: air flows around the tongue when a child produces the |s| and |z| sounds. The palatal lisp: a child touches the roof of the mouth when producing the |s| and |z| sounds.
The Doctor’s Advice
In some cases, tongue thrusting, thumb sucking, excessive pacifier use, or bottle feeding, may intensify the lisp. Your child’s dentist can help determine if malocclusion from tongue thrusting, or other habits are a probable cause. Additionally, the pediatrician can check for things like allergies, obstruction of the nose, and enlarged tonsils, which can also contribute to lisping. Sometimes a speech-language pathologist can help if no specific cause can be found and lisping continues.