Speech Pathology – Palatal Speech PathologyHouston, TX
It is easy for many people to take swallowing, eating, or talking as a given, whereas other people struggle with these functions due to having a palatal speech pathology. The mouth, palate, and back of the throat do a lot more work for us than people realize. Those who are dealing with a condition like this have to find ways to cope with the symptoms on a regular basis. Fortunately, our team can help.
It is frustrating and uncomfortable not to control the basic functions others take for granted. For this reason, prosthodontist Eva Boldridge, DMD, PA, uses her skills to help those with palatal speech pathology get control and return to living their lives to the fullest. Call our office at (281) 779-4022 to learn more about palatal speech pathology or to make an appointment today.
What is Palatal Speech Pathology?
Palatal speech pathology happens when something goes wrong with the parts of the mouth that allow us to swallow and speak. When someone swallows or speaks, the soft palate moves up, the side walls move in, and the back wall moves forward, forming a valve. This valve prevents food or liquid from going into the nose while swallowing and prevents excessive air from escaping when speaking. When a patient does not get complete closure of this valve, the patient is said to have palatopharyngeal inadequacy.
This can happen when muscles are missing for any reason, like removal during cleft palate surgery at birth. Also, the valve may not close due to disease or trauma to the nerves. The patient may have one or two of these things happening to cause the valve not to come together right. The patient’s breathing, swallowing, and the way they sound when they speak can all be affected by this.
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The Types of Speech Pathology Treatment
Treating palatal speech pathology can involve multiple forms of treatment depending on the case. Often, treatment starts with speech therapy, moves to surgery, and then prosthesis if necessary since the problem can often result from a cleft palate at birth. In some cases, repairing the cleft palate may not eliminate the problem. Each case is different, but speech therapy is typically provided for about six months before surgical correction. Each patient’s treatment is going to be customized to their needs since no two patients are alike.
Benefits of Seeking Treatment With Prosthesis
There are times when surgery is not an option, will be unsuccessful, or is not the desired option. All surgery carries with it some inherent risk. Fortunately, there are several prosthetic options that can yield effective results. A device known as a palatal lift prosthesis is an effective treatment option for certain patients with palatopharyngeal incompetence. This device lifts the soft palate in the correct position while maintaining a similar appearance to a retainer. The soft palate obturator is another prosthesis with a similar appearance to a retainer lacking any metal. It has been reported to correct speech problems in a patient, allowing the patient to eat without any particular limitations.
The Treatment Process
The treatment process for speech pathology can vary per patient. As a prosthodontist, our team strives to help develop the necessary prosthesis the patient can use to enhance the function of their mouth and jaw. During an appointment, we will use state-of-the-art scanning technology to take accurate and detailed images of the patient’s head. With these images, we can develop a 3D model of the patient’s head before mapping out what prosthesis will best meet their needs.
Along with saving the patient time, this scanning process does not normally involve the use of putty to make a mold of the patient’s teeth or jaw. This helps to make the experience more comfortable for the patient. After reviewing the images of the patient’s scans, we can then discuss the results with the patient and suggest which of the options is best for the patient. Once the device is complete, the patient will return for a fitting. We will go over the proper care techniques, ensure the device fits, and answer any other questions the patient has.
Aftercare of the Prosthesis
The patient may have to go through an adjustment period when first using the prosthesis. While we use the latest digital technology to create a prosthesis that will accurately fit the patient’s mouth, the patient will need time to adjust to the feel of it. We will demonstrate how the patient inserts and removes the prosthesis and make sure the patient is comfortable doing so.
This is the time for any questions the patient may have. For cleaning, patients can soak their prostheses with gentle denture cleaning tablets. It is also important to brush the prosthesis with a soft-bristled toothbrush, using gentle antibacterial soap and water before rinsing thoroughly afterward. As with most prostheses, do not use any substance or brush that is too harsh and might wear the prosthesis down. Even if the toothbrush is a common one for regular teeth, it may have bristles that will be too hard on the prosthesis and may damage it. If there are any problems with the prosthesis, we encourage the patient to call us right away for a solution.
Call Us Today
No one should have to struggle with discomfort due to palatal speech pathology. Eva Boldridge, DMD, PA, is skilled at creating prostheses that help people improve the swallowing and speaking issues stemming from problems in the soft palate. For more information on how prostheses can treat palatal speech pathology, call (281) 779-4022.
Frequently Asked Questions About Palatal Speech Pathology
What causes this condition?
While many causes of this condition involve cleft palate, some causes can vary per patient. Other causes can include trauma or disease to the face at various stages of a person’s development. About 20% of children who have a repaired cleft pallet will develop the condition.
Is this work covered by dental insurance?
While a prosthesis can fall under the category of medical necessity, each case is different. Since each case is unique, coverage may vary. We recommend reaching out to your insurance provider for more information on coverage.
What type of prosthetic will the prosthodontist choose for me?
We will need to conduct a full examination in order to determine the most effective prosthetic for your needs. We will go over all available options during the appointment and cover the steps in the treatment process to help you make a decision. We will address any questions or concerns before customizing the treatment plan for the patient..
Are these prostheses comfortable?
By using state-of-the-art technology, our team can provide you with a prosthesis designed specifically for your mouth, teeth, or jaw. While there will be an adjustment period, there will be minimal pain or issue. Once the prosthesis is ready, we will schedule an appointment to ensure it fits properly before the patient returns home. If the patient has any issues with the prosthesis, they should call us right away.
How long do these prostheses last?
A lot of that depends on if the patient follows proper care and cleaning instructions. By doing so, it is possible to extend the life of the prostheses. Much like removable retainers, they tend to last years. It depends on the device as well.
How common is palatopharyngeal inadequacy?
It is considered a rare condition. Sometimes the condition develops after surgery but resolves on its own. Reports of the permanent variety range between 1 in 1200 to 1 in 10,000. Our team can go over more information on this topic and the benefits of a prosthesis treatment, during an appointment.
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