Plenary Speaker for Dental Conferences - Debora Do Canto Assaf

Title: Can speech problems be associated with malocclusion in children? What kind of malocclusions? An epidemiological view!

Debora Do Canto Assaf

Federal University of Santa Maria, Brazil


Dra. Débora Assaf graduated in Dentistry from Federal University of Santa Maria, Brazil. She specialized in Orthodontics from the Group of Orthodontic Studies and Services, in Araraquara, Brazil. Currently, she is a Master’s Student from Federal University of Santa Maria. She works in a private clinic in Santa Maria, Brazil.


The ability to communicate and interact socially is of high importance for individuals of all ages, and language is a key factor for communication between people. Speech is the result of the planning and execution of sequences of movements, which require very precise neuromuscular coordination. Speech disorders may begin as early as childhood, approximately 33.6% of children presented some type of alteration in the articulation of sounds in a Brazilian sample. Among the factors that influence the precision of the articulatory points are the presence and position of the teeth, mobility of the lips, cheeks and soft palate, and the position and mobility of the tongue and mandible, as well as the intraoral space for articulation and resonance, deviations in the functions of chewing, swallowing and breathing may also be associated. When the origin of the speech disorder occurs at skeletal and muscular structures of the stomatognathic system, we call these alterations as having a musculoskeletal origin represented by the distortion of sounds, which occurs as adjustments or compensations for more intelligible speech, such as anterior and lateral lisp (phoneme error / s /). Alteration of the shape of the dental arch added to tongue hypofunction are the factors most frequently associated with anterior and lateral lisp. The high sample size of our cross-sectional study (547 mixed-dentition children from state schools in the city of Santa Maria – Brazil), combined with a complete occlusal evaluation, considering the three occlusion components (vertical, transverse and sagittal), respiratory mode evaluation, tongue position and specific diagnosis of distortion type, have the potential to clarify doubts about the association between malocclusion, altered respiratory mode (oral / oronasal), alterations in the position of the tongue and speech dysfunction. This would enable dentists and speech therapists, when observing certain alterations, to plan interdisciplinary treatments, guaranteeing an adequate occlusal relationship and phonoarticulatory function. As a result of the study, we observed that individuals with deep overbite present a protective relationship to speech distortion, whereas posterior crossbite is a risk factor for this problem. Regarding the alteration in the position of the tongue, anterior open bite and oral/oronasal respiratory mode represent a risk factors, while the presence of deep overbite and being male represent protection factors for the tongue in normal position.