Language and speech are complex. Anyone who has witnessed a child growing up can attest to the fact that learning to speak is a lengthy and ongoing process. Our vocal cords, tongues, lips—and yes, our teeth—all play important roles in creating sounds.
When you’re missing teeth, it can significantly impact your speech. Fortunately, dental implants can help you return to your normal speech functionality. Here’s an overview of how you can address speech issues with nearly permanent dental implants.
How missing teeth impact your speech
Our teeth play an important role in creating the sounds necessary for speech. “Strident” sounds, which are sounds produced by the friction of airflow against teeth, are especially affected. Words like “chin,” “vet,” “fish,” and “sew” can be tough to pronounce. “Th” sounds, such as those in “thirst” and “the” are also more difficult.
People with missing teeth may find themselves lisping or slurring their words. This can be difficult for anyone, but especially for people whose work or hobbies regularly include public speaking. Over time, missing teeth and affected speech can have profound social and psychological impacts.
Dental implants can help with lisping and tongue placement concerns, pronunciation challenges and slurring or muffled speech, which are often caused by gaps or loose dentures.
How dental implants can improve your speech clarity
When a tooth is missing, neighboring teeth may shift or tilt, causing misalignment and affecting speech production. By replacing the missing tooth with a dental implant, the natural alignment and position of the teeth are restored. This makes speech production easier.
Next, implants provide enhanced stability and support for the tongue. Missing teeth or loose dentures can create instability, which then creates problems with tongue movement and coordination while speaking. Dental implants are secure and stable, which allow the tongue to move freely. In turn, this enables better sound articulation.
Finally, gaps or spaces caused by missing teeth can significantly impact speech sounds. This may lead to lisping, slurring or difficulty pronouncing certain words. Dental implants fill gaps and spaces, which provides a solid surface for the tongue and lips to make proper contact during speech.
What to expect after dental implants
While dental implants help solve issues like gaps, misalignment, stability and support, there may be a bit of an adjustment period before you’re back to normal speech. Depending on how long you’ve had teeth missing, you’ve likely adjusted your speech to accommodate. When your dental implants are placed, you’ll need to practice speaking with a full set of teeth.
Some patients work with speech therapists to help regain or learn normal speech function after implant placement. However, this is often only necessary if you’ve been missing teeth for many years, or you’re in a profession which demands frequent public speaking. Most patients are easily able to adjust to their new teeth and do not require additional intervention.
If you’re interested in learning how dental implants can benefit your speech, function and overall health, reach out to Dr. Mike and the Cleveland Implant Institute team today.