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What Did You Say?

Studying Flash CardsWe’ve all heard young children speak “baby talk.” Sometimes it can sound endearing—or it may be a speech defect.

In early infancy, babies begin to make vowel sounds, usually mastered by age three. Consonant sounds are more difficult and come a little later on. By the eighth birthday, most children can pronounce all consonants and are 100% intelligible. But some children have more difficulty with speech and may need help learning.

Lisping—The most common speech defect is lisping, which is relatively easy to correct. Children who lisp cannot produce “s,” “z,” “sh,” “ch,” and “j” sounds.

A lisp is heard when children cut off an “s” with the tongue instead of the front teeth. Prolonged thumb sucking or finger sucking can create an open bite and result in a lisp. Other causes are the loss of a primary tooth, impaired hearing, undeveloped ability to discriminate sounds, imitation of a relative or friend who lisps, or neurological disturbances.

Cleft palate—A cleft palate can dramatically affect a child’s speech and often requires oral surgery. Sometimes an orthodontist provides a plastic plate to cover the opening in the roof of the mouth—this allows the child to develop normal speech patterns until surgery can correct the palate.

Tongue thrusting—Tongue thrusting is another problem that can impair speech. This is essentially “reverse swallowing,” and can cause improper tooth alignment. It may result from prolonged thumb sucking, which leaves a gap between the teeth and fosters the habit.

As a dentist, we may be the first to notice a speech problem, and we often work with a team including a speech pathologist, orthodontist, and oral surgeon, to correct such problems. We’ll let you know if we think anything is amiss with your child’s developing speech patterns.

About Alan Limbird, DDS

Dr. Alan Limbird graduated from the University of California, San Francisco in 1983, in the top 10% of his class. He immediately entered into a residency at Loma Linda University in General Dental Practice. After completing his residency in 1984, he joined a dental practice in Ukiah which he owned and operated for 30 years. At Limbird Dentistry, Dr. Limbird offered his patients the highest quality treatment using state of the art dental technology to create beautiful smiles. Dr. Limbird sold his Ukiah practice in November 2014 and continues to work part-time with the new owners. In April 2017, Dr. Limbird joined Dr. James Hooper’s thriving dental practice in Fort Bragg. Dr. Limbird is excited to be offering dental services to his new patients on the coast. With the new Solea Dental Laser, he can offer an even higher level of care and technology than ever before. Dr. Limbird strives to stay on the cutting edge of dental technology. While working part-time for two years, he filled his free time by attending many dental education courses to fine tune his skills and learn new ones. Recent courses include: Oral Surgery, extractions, bone grafting, implant placement, implant restoration and extensive training with Dental Lasers. These skills will be put to good use in his Fort Bragg office since there are no dental specialists in the area. Dr. Limbird has been using Dental Lasers for over 20 years. Lasers have helped him to provide a higher level of service and excellence to his patients than was previously possible. His most recent technology purchase is the new Solea Carbon Dioxide Dental Laser. With this new laser, Dr. Limbird can prepare and place nearly all of your fillings comfortably and efficiently with NO SHOTS and NO PAIN! No longer do our patients need to fear going to the dentist. Dr. Limbird also has extensive training in Cosmetic Dentistry. He works with only the best dental laboratories and uses the highest quality materials to give you the best smile possible! Dr. Limbird and his wife, Laura, have always loved spending time on the Mendocino Coast. They now live in Mendocino full time and are pleased to be a part of the coastal community.

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