Do you hate not being able to speak clearly, especially words with /s/, /sh/, /f/, /t/, /th/, and more sounds, because of your dentures? Are you self-conscious about speaking in public now with your dentures?
These are common challenges that many denture wearers have overcome by following some key advice from denture professionals and speech coaches.
With time, patience, and exercises, you can refresh your speech sound.
Time: First, you need time to adjust from your teeth extraction for your swelling to lessen, your gums to recede, and your pain to reduce from the ongoing adjustments of fitting your dentures satisfactorily. Always check with your dentist or health professional for support until you are satisfied.
Patience: Your mouth muscles help you to chew and to speak, so your second shock comes when you realize how difficult it is to chew. Your jaw, tongue, lips, and teeth need to be in sync around your dentures in order to figure this process out. It takes patience with how to chew and swallow without gagging. Eating soft foods or liquid soups and drinks will gradually get you into chewing bread and more solid food.
Exercises: Speech exercises targeted to retrain where your tongue and other speech muscles should go are the same as if you had to retrain your arm or leg muscles after surgery. The speech muscles: jaw, lips, tongue, teeth, palate (roof of mouth); and facial and neck muscles all are part of your speech team to make things work again.
For example, the lower movable jaw needs to be more flexible to allow for speech sounds to resonate out of your mouth. Stretching the jaw slowly and relaxing it will create a more flexible jaw. Massaging your face and releasing tension in your neck and shoulders avoids high pitch sounds.
Your tongue needs to know where to place itself because there are new dentures blocking where it normally would stretch to. For example, try saying this classic sentence for an exercise: “Speak with the lips, the teeth, and the tip of tongue.”
Repeating tongue twisters slowly will help your tongue place itself where the gum ridge use to be, tapping behind the front teeth onto your new dentures for words with /t/, /d/, and /n/ sounds. Try: “Danny dated Donna Doon daily.”
Your lips play a part on /m/, /p/, and /b/ words as they touch together: “Mom bought rubber buggy baby bumpers.”
Being able to slightly arch the tongue back onto the upper soft palate will train those guttural sounds of /g/, /c/, /k/, and /ng/: “The clock rang with a groaning gong.”
Allowing the air to flow or hiss slowly over your tongue for /s/, and around the sides for /sh/, will give your tongue direction as to where to lie in you mouth to avoid a lisp or whistle sound: “Surely your sister Sue can show customers our shoes.”
Overall a repetition of reading aloud, saying tongue twisters, and having more conversations while wearing your dentures will improve your speech skills. The bonus is that your confidence will grow, and your self-consciousness will disappear.