Human speech is highly complex, a combination of phonetic sounds created by the tongue, lips, teeth and vocal tract. When one of these structures doesn’t work correctly, speech is affected. For example, you may slur your words or even have a lisp.
Typically when we speak, the tongue touches the teeth or the roof of the mouth to help make sounds. Now, although not every sound relies on teeth, many do.
To get an idea of the importance of teeth to speech, try saying “thank you very much for the tea” without your upper and lower teeth touching each other or your lips and tongue.
How did it sound to you? Were the words clear? Probably not. Most likely, you sounded like a child trying to learn a new phrase.
While most people replace missing teeth to restore their smile and improve their oral health, having dental implant surgery prevents whistling and slurring and restores natural speech patterns. This, in turn, can help to increase self-confidence.
So how do missing teeth affect the way someone speaks? Teeth play a key role in clear and good speech, helping us to make certain sounds such as vowels that rely on contact between teeth, lips and tongue. For example:
To make a “th” sound, the tongue touches the upper row of teeth, while to produce a “v,” the upper row of teeth makes contact with the lower lip. Teeth are also responsible for helping you pronounce the letters “g,” “s,” and “z” and the sounds “ch” and “sh.”
If there are issues with your dentition, such as having misaligned or missing teeth, you will most likely experience some kind of speech impediment that makes it difficult for other people to understand you. Crooked and improperly placed teeth can also affect speech by impairing tongue placement leading to lisps as air is sucked in through gaps between them.
While dentures are a popular tooth replacement option, they often do not improve speech because they slip, which prevents the tongue from making the correct phonetic sounds. And embarrassingly, they may even fall out while you’re speaking. Also, jaw disintegration can continue because dentures are not permanent and the continued bone loss may further impede the way someone speaks.
On the other hand, dental implants are a permanent solution that improves speech because they let you talk the way you always have.
Dental implants perform exactly like natural teeth, so there will be no impediment to your speech. That being said, it may take a few days of adjustment to get used to them. The fit and feel may seem a little strange at first, but after a short while, your mouth adjusts to them, and things will start to feel natural once more.
When your dental implants are first installed, your dental team will listen to how you speak. Depending on how you sound, they may adjust the prosthesis to improve the clarity of your speaking patterns.
After dental implant surgery, you may be given a set of speech exercises to perform at home. These will be types of movements that help train you to speak clearly once again and get accustomed to your new teeth.
Some people don´t need to learn how to perfect their speech again following surgery, but others do. If you’re one of them, the key to getting back to normal is to practice, practice and practice some more. If there are sounds you are not pronouncing well, just keep saying them out loud. Talk to the mirror and follow your prescribed exercises. The more you do, the easier it will become and the more you will start to sound like you used to before you lost some of your teeth.
Depending on the number of implants you received and your body’s own healing process, it could take up to three weeks to adjust to talking with your new implants. Be patient. Since dental implants are permanent, there’s no need to rush.
If you have been considering your options for how best to replace your missing teeth, don’t delay any longer. The longer you go without replacing missing teeth, the more damage you may do to your jaw, and the worse your speech can become.
At Chesterfield Dentistry, we can design a customized treatment for you that restores your normal way of speaking. Why not schedule a FREE dental implant consultation to see how we can help you. Call us on (314) 682-4587 or use our online booking form. We look forward to hearing from you.