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The Fine Line Between Dentistry and Speech Science

Our body is a system and all its parts work in sync with each other like the delicate pieces of a swiss watch.

It is no wonder that dentistry will go hand in hand with speech science and that there is a relationship between your teeth and how a child learns to speak.

The article, The Impact of Prolonged Pacifier Use on Speech Articulation: A Preliminary Investigation by Laura L. Shotts, D. Mike McDaniel, Richard A. Neeley from Arkansas State University, Jonesboro from the Contemporary Issues in Communication Science and Disorders, Volume 35 • 72–75 • Spring 2008 © NSSLHA 1092-5171/08/3501-0072, shines evidence on how using the pacifier for a prolonged period of time can affect speech in children.

The study investigated three groups of children and the amount of pacifier use ranging from little use up to 55 months of use, and then this data was further compared to an articulation test.

Although this research does have a couple of loose variables, for example, they did not include the time during the day that children use a pacifier or suck their thumb nor did they do a deep research on the types of pacifiers used, however the authors listed some very important tendencies that they found during the research.


“A recent study of dental malocclusions from approximately 15,000 children from one orthodontic clinic concluded that a sucking habit resulted in 60% of the dental malocclusions that were seen in those patients (Van Norman, 2001).”

“The American Dental Association (2003) reported that pacifier use in 3 to 5-year-old children led to anterior open bite, posterior crossbite, mean overjet, and smaller intercanine distance of the upper arch.”


“Boshart (2001) suggested that dental problems associated with prolonged pacifier sucking could lead to speech articulation problems such as distortion of the fricative and alveolar phonemes.”


“In addition to speech articulation problems, it is plausible that use might negatively impact development because the oral cavity is partially obstructed by the pacifier and babbling and imitation of sounds and words could be limited. Also, it is conceivable that if the child is babbling with the pacifier in its mouth, those vocalization may be distorted or inhibit the child from making any vocalizations.”


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The Fine Line Between Dentistry And Speech Science
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