Treating a Whistled S

By Pam Marshalla

Q: My client started with a frontal lisp. Now he is now producing a “Whistling S.” How do I correct this?

A whistling S usually is an S that is being made in just the right place that whistling occurs. Simply have your client begin to move his tongue-tip higher or lower, slightly more forward or back, or slightly more to the left or right as he prolongs his S. You are searching for the place that works to alleviate the whistle and achieve the best sound quality on S for him. That is all a matter of trial and error. You are training his ear to hear the fine differences that occur in the sound quality as he moves his tongue-tip by millimeters at a time in one direction and then another.

8 thoughts on “Treating a Whistled S”

  1. Hello.
    I was searching for information about whistled S and found this website.
    I had this problem started last year, after I got 4 porcelain veneers on my frontal upper teeth. I didn’t have a whistled S at all, and I realised it few minutes after leaving the dentist.
    I’ve tried many things, like making the veneers thinner, shorter, and even replacing them.. I tried a speech therapy for some time too, but nothing seems to help.
    Do you have any information about this? I’d really appreciatte if you could help me.
    Thanks a lot,
    Renê

    1. A whistled S is changed not by changing the teeth but by changing tongue position. You have to move your tongue slowly and gently and in very very tiny increments while listening very hard to find that perfect spot where the whistling disappears. There is no way to tell you how to do this other than that because each person has to adjust their tongue in a way that is unique to them.

      I am really surprised that an SLP was not able to help you with this. If you need help try to find an older therapist who has been doing old-time articulation therapy for a long time.

  2. Hello PAM M, thanks a lot for your reply.

    The problem is exactly that: there is not spot where the whistling disappears. I’ve tried all possible tongue positions, lips articulations, ways of blowing the air, and I never got any satisfying sound. The professionals I worked with are really good and experienced, but after some time they just started trying to convince me my speech is ok. But it’s not. It’s nothing near to those whistles of some people who wear dentures but it’s definatelly not right.

    I do believe the teeth itself may be the cause, I’ve read a lot about thickness, lenght and incision position having an influence on this.. and also for dentures, sometimes the thickness of the palate (rugae area) is the direct cause. But we still haven’t worked it out.

    As for the link you sent me, is it correct? The link brings it back to this page!

    Thanks a lot,

    Renê

  3. What really bothers me is that the whistled sound happens EVEN with the mouth open. It is the sound it makes when the air gets in contact with the veneers.
    Sometimes I wonder.. is it the material itself (porcelain)? Could it be fixed by making the shape of the teeth on the backside exactly like a natural one? Because mine seems to be FLAT on the backside.

  4. Hi Renê, did you figure this out? Everything you’ve written makes perfect sense to me because I’m going through it. It’s exactly as you describe, after getting veneers on my two upper front teeth. I make my living by recording and this is a disaster.

    1. Lee what have you figured out? I also work as a voice over actor and have noticed some whistling and added sibilance since pulling a tooth due to overcrowding and starting to use invisalign trays to straighten my teeth. It’s not terrible yet, but it’s concerning me as I can hear the whistling a bit on my S’s which is picked by a sensitive microphone even more.

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