One of the functions you depend on your dentures for is helping you speak clearly. Not being able to speak clearly with dentures can be a serious impediment, and it can lead to social isolation.

Unfortunately, poorly fitting dentures can interfere with virtually every part of your speech process.

A top denture on display

How Speech Sounds Are Produced

To understand how dentures must function to help you speak properly, it’s important to understand how speech works. The speech process involves four principal components to produce the sounds your brain commands.

  • Lungs
  • Vocal cords
  • Resonant spaces
  • Articulators

Your lungs drive the air that produces vibrations that are ultimately heard as sounds. When they pass through your vocal cords, these can alter them, depending on whether you’re producing a voiced or unvoiced sound. Resonant spaces is are where the vibrations of air achieve the status of sound. Resonant spaces in your mouth, throat, nose, and sinuses magnify the vibrations so they can be heard.

These sounds are then shaped by articulators, which include your teeth, tongue, and lips.

Dentures replace your teeth and occupy volume in your mouth, so they affect your resonant spaces and your articulators. And if they don’t fit properly, the impact can be significant.

Poor Resonance

By taking up space in your mouth, your dentures can reduce the resonant space there. This will lead the nasal resonance to become more pronounced, making your voice more nasal. Dentures that don’t seal against your palate can also vibrate separately, which can make your voice sound different, too.

Implant dentures can help if you’re unhappy with the effect of resonance changes. They take up less room so your mouth can resonate as before. And they’re fully secure so they don’t resonate separately.

Articulation Difficulties

Articulation is where the sounds of speech acquire their unique characteristics. Unfortunately, it’s also where dentures can make the biggest difference in your speech. They can impact your ability to produce bilabial sounds, labiodental sounds, linguodental sounds, linguipalatal sounds, and linguoalveolar sounds.

Bilabial sounds like P and B are formed when your lips come together to shape airflow without the tongue or teeth. But if dentures are too large or too small it can alter the timing of lip contact and make these sounds hard to produce. And this kind of movement can dislodge loose dentures, causing them to click.

Sounds like F and V are labiodental sounds. You articulate them by bringing together lips and teeth. When dentures aren’t sized properly, these two sounds become indistinguishable.

TH is a linguodental sound (also spelled linguadental), in which your tongue juts between your teeth. If your tongue and teeth can’t come together properly, you won’t be able to make these sounds.

Linguopalatal sounds are very diverse because your tongue can contact and shape spaces with the palate in many different ways. Dentures that are loose can interfere with many of these sounds, such as S, D, T, N, and R. Dentures can also interfere with these sounds if they don’t create a good seal with the palate or don’t have good rugae.

Can’t Adapt to Dentures?

Adapting to speech with dentures can take a little bit of time. Give yourself time to try your new dentures. But if you can’t adapt or if speech gets worse with dentures over time, maybe you need to look into quality dentures that can help.

To learn more about getting quality dentures in Columbia, SC, please call (803) 781-9090 today for an appointment with a denture dentist at Smile Columbia Dentistry.