Do you hesitate to pick up the phone to speak because of your dentures?
It’s not uncommon for a new denture placement to confuse your tongue as to where it goes inside your mouth. This can also affect your reluctance to speak socially outside of the comfort of your home and your immediate family.
Preparation in managing your speaking skills, your personal feelings, and your interactions with others will help re-build your self-confidence.
The following three actions will guide you to move from being worried to being more confident.
Action #1: Warmup your tongue movement in relation to your new denture teeth, your jaw, lips, and mouth.
While wearing your dentures, begin letting your tongue tip explore the inside of your mouth. Drag it across the palate, or roof of your mouth right to the back of your mouth. Then, guide the tongue to touch your new dentures a tooth at-a-time, as if it’s cleaning the inner side of your teeth. Stretch your tongue to repeat cleaning the front of your teeth. Rest between exercising your tongue to just let it relax in its new space.
When you believe that your tongue has figured things out, start speaking short phrases, such as, “Pass me my drink please.” You may be drinking through a straw or sipping slowly but you can practise your speech between your normal activities.
Saying tongue twisters will help you figure out which sound is the most difficult for you. Then teach your tongue how to do it by repeating it slowly and often. Take a few minutes to read a short paragraph during your day.
Action #2: Motivate positive emotional reaction to speaking clearly again with mind relaxation and visualization.
Breathe in slowly with the diaphragm to relax your shoulders, neck, throat and jaw. Let your arms hang loosely, and yawn widely several times. Close your eyes and visualize yourself having a conversation over the telephone with a friend just like you use to do. Then open your eyes and speak out loud what you might say initially to that friend.
Take the next step and actually call your friend. Your speech may not always be perfect, but it is the best you can do now, because each time as you practise you will get better. Simply smile and tell yourself that you’re doing great.
Next, be mindful and willing to take a risk to speak socially by going outside of your safe home to the local coffee shop or an event. Remember your speech muscles are along for the exercise so keep them moving.
Action #3: Rehearse your changes as if you are about to speak with a microphone before an audience.
Stand up as if you are in front of a microphone and read aloud a short passage from a book. Then do another paragraph in front of your computer and record your passage. Play it back and listen to how well you now are speaking with your dentures.
You will gain confidence and adapt to any stressful situation by speaking as much as possible. Speak to your listeners as if you are interested in them. Throw away all your excuses as to why you can’t speak, and just go out there and speak. It’s not about you anymore, it’s about contributing to a conversation. This will keep your mind, speech, and confidence away from your previous fears.
Let’s all Keep Voice Fit! Get ready to exercise your speech muscles for articulation clarity! There are more warm-ups, exercises, and tips to re-train your lips, tongue, teeth, palate, and jaw after dentures in Brenda C. Smith’s latest book: “Speak with Confidence: Even with Dentures;” “Training Your Speech Muscles to Clear Communication.”
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Brenda C. Smith