One of the vital functions of your dentures is to help you speak clearly. But how does the fit of your dentures actually affect your ability to speak clearly? We’ll look a little bit at how speech works to show how important proper denture fit is to your speech.
How Speech Sounds Are Produced
Speech is a complicated process. It involves four components to produce the sounds your brain commands:
- Vocal cords
- Resonant spaces, including mouth, throat, nose, and sinuses
Speech sounds start in your lungs, and then are either altered by your vocal cords or not, depending on whether you are producing a voiced sound or an unvoiced sound.
The resonant spaces help these sounds to shape and also gives them volume. The vibration of the spaces and the air in them is what produces the sounds.
Articulators also help shape the sounds. They are your teeth, tongue, and lips.
Because your dentures replace your teeth and cover your palate, they can impact both your resonators and your articulators. If they aren’t properly fitted, they can distort the sound of some key letters.
Your dentures help define the resonance space of your mouth. But they’re not the same as your palate, so they can cause different resonance. One of the main effects is the reduction of the oral resonance chamber, which decreases the oral resonance quality. This then results in more nasal resonance, which can make your speech sound more nasal.
Implant dentures can help with this by reducing the bulk of your dentures.
Getting the Right Articulation
Articulation is one of the areas where dentures can make the biggest difference. They can impact many different types of sounds, including bilabial sounds, labiodental sounds, linguodental sounds, linguopalatal, and linguoalveolar sounds.
Bilabial sounds are formed when your lips come together to produce sounds without involving the tongue or teeth. These include P and B sounds. If your dentures are too large or too small, it makes it hard to form these sounds because it interferes with timing of the lip contact. Dentures may click when making these sounds if they’re not held firmly in place.
Labiodental sounds are formed when your teeth and lips meet. This includes sounds like F and V. If your denture teeth aren’t the right length, it can make it hard to distinguish these two sounds.
Linguodental sounds (also spelled linguadental) are formed when your tongue actually juts out between your teeth. Th is a good example of this sound. Your denture teeth need to be able to meet around your tongue to produce these sounds.
Linguopalatal sounds are formed when your tongue touches the upper palate to control the flow of air through the mouth. Not having a proper texture on the palate or enough space for the tongue can impair these sounds.
Linguoalveolar sounds are similar to linguopalatal sounds in that they are formed by your tongue on the top of the mouth, but they are also driven by air pressure forced through the tongue space. The placement of the teeth as well as the texture of the denture can affect the formation of these sounds.
Can’t Adapt to Dentures?
It does take time to adapt to your dentures. You have to give yourself time to learn how to speak properly with them. But if you’ve tried to adapt and you can’t speak clearly, it may be your dentures that are the problem.
FOY® Dentures are optimally fitted to help you speak clearly as well as performing other functions of your dentures. If your current dentures can’t do the trick, please contact a local FOY® Dentures dentist to learn how they can help you get clear speech with dentures.