How do speech/language pathologists work with dentists?

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Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs) collaborate and work closely with a number of other professionals. While many are familiar with SLPs working with occupational or physical therapists, you might not think of dentists as someone we might work with. There are a number of reasons we might work together:

·         Prolonged use of pacifier, thumb, bottle or sippy cup

    • All of these can impact the development of oral structures (e.g., teeth, palate, tongue placement) in your child’s mouth and cause issues with speech/articulation and jaw and teeth structure. No one wants to increase their chances of their child needing braces so talk to your child’s therapist or dentist about how and when to eliminate using these.

·         Reverse swallow/tongue thrust

    • Dentists and SLPs work together to determine why your child may be exhibiting a reverse swallow or tongue thrust and establish a plan to help facilitate a more typical swallow pattern and tongue placement.

·         “Tongue tie”

    • Often your child’s dentist or SLP will be the first one to diagnose a tongue tie if it was not detected as an infant due to feeding challenges.

·         Oral Clefts

    • If your child has an oral cleft a speech language pathologist and dentist will likely be important parts on your child’s medical team. They will collaborate with you and the rest of the team to determine how your child’s speech and feeding skills can be supported.

 Be sure to let your child's SLP know if your dentist brings up any of these as concerns or have a discussion with your child's therapist prior to going to the dentist to see if there is anything you should discuss with your dentist.

Written by Lindsey Fry, MA, CCC-SLP/L