Speech Problems With Your Dentures

(And What You Can Do about it)

There are two types of dentures. One type is a denture used along with what natural teeth you have left. Usually, it’s in the form of a bridge, crown or partial. This type of denture seldom causes speech problems.

Then there’s the second type—full dentures. This is when ALL the natural teeth are gone, usually because of trauma, or poor hygiene leading to decay. And these full dentures may cause speech problems—at least temporarily.

Why is it different?

Normally, some sounds we make involve the front teeth in contact with the tongue. Having new dentures means your teeth could be in a different position, as well as shape. And the difference doesn’t have to be great—just a tiny difference will affect your speech. The tongue can’t make the correct contact it used to, so often a lisp or slight “whistle” may be evident.

It will take some time for your tongue to learn the new position and shape of your dentures. And the older you are, the longer it will take. Actually, rarely, the denture wearer my never adapt because of too great a change.

And some people have little or no problem at all.

Another difference involves too much saliva being produced in the mouth. With full dentures, there is “something” in your mouth that your brain thinks is food. And that means saliva. This too is temporary, but bothersome nonetheless.

Practice, practice, practice

It’s a little like being back in piano lessons. No practice, no improvement. You must give your mouth a chance to adjust to this new appliance.

Try practicing in front of a mirror; with all the words you’ve noticed a problem with. Give yourself speeches or talk to yourself—anything to practice forming words with your new “mouth”. You could even try singing.

Dentures can allow some people an improvement in their speech—pronouncing words as they did before they lost their natural teeth. It just takes practice, and plenty of it.

What are the French up to?

Taking a new approach, scientists in Grenoble, France, as reported in New Science, fitted dentures with sensors to reveal the tongue’s movements during speech.

The purpose was to find a way to minimize the problem with dentures and braces on speech.

It seems it’s not easy to get a true sense of how much pressure is exerted on the teeth, by the tongue when making certain sounds, such as a “T”.

By hiding their sensors in the dentures, the French hoped it wouldn’t affect the usual workings of the tongue.

The sensor’s information was transmitted to a computer by a wire that ran along the inside of the cheek—with the persons sounds recorded by microphone.

Time will tell if this research pans out.

In the meantime, practice, practice, practice. It almost always improves.