As a singer, the physiology of your mouth and throat has an impact on the sounds you make. But do teeth affect singing too? Can you sing without teeth and can wisdom teeth removal change your voice?
Do teeth affect singing? Your teeth can affect your singing in terms of tone and resonance. Minor changes and removal of wisdom teeth or canines are very unlikely to have a negative impact on your voice in the long term, but regular dental checkups are vital for all singers.
Many people require braces and there’s every chance that some extractions may be necessary during your lifetime, due to decay or overcrowding. Here we answer all your questions and concerns surrounding teeth and their effect on singing.
Can your teeth affect your singing?
Teeth have a two-fold impact on singers. They are part of the vocal anatomy that produces sound and they affect your overall image. If your teeth aren’t cared for properly they can also have an effect on your health and even make you feel unwell. This is why looking after them well is an important part of your daily routine.
So how else can your teeth affect your singing, and what can you do about it?
Does your singing voice change when you lose teeth?
We are all born with what we call ‘milk teeth’. These are our baby teeth that fall out in childhood, replaced by stronger adult teeth that stay with us – hopefully – for the rest of our lives. But it may also be necessary to remove teeth due to issues with overcrowding and decay.
Does your mouth size affect your singing?
Your mouth size definitely affects your singing, most significantly in terms of vocal range. The general rule is that those with smaller mouths have smaller vocal cords, resulting in a higher voice.
Those with larger mouths and correspondingly larger heads may have bigger more powerful voices. Watch famous belters like Whitney Houston when they sing – often you’ll find they have very big mouths.
Mouth size is not the only determining factor in your voice though and do bear in mind that much can be achieved with correct technique and practice. So, you can work to make your voice bigger, or higher, or both.
Is singing better when moving your teeth?
To move your teeth you need to move your jaw, and that is generally not a sign of good vocal technique. This is because the most important thing for your jaw when singing is to be really relaxed. There should be no tension at all. In some genres of music we do see jaw movement, so if you like to incorporate this, do be sure that you’re not allowing any tension to build in that jaw.
Do uneven teeth affect your singing voice?
Getting your teeth straightened as an adult is expensive. But for kids, this service is available on the NHS – which is why so many of us had braces as children. The most common reason for getting your teeth fixed is aesthetics, however, singing and speech may be a factor too.
Do crooked teeth affect singing – should you show your teeth when singing??
If you have crooked teeth you may feel you don’t want to show them off when performing and trying to constantly keep your teeth hidden can inhibit your performance and possibly diction.
Some singers and celebrities prefer to keep things natural or decide to rock a gap between their two front teeth, like Madonna.
Does fixing your teeth change your voice – can braces improve singing?
It’s unlikely that braces will make a big difference to your singing voice. However fixing crooked teeth may well help your diction, which is all part of your act. Straight teeth also help your overall image as an artist. And it’s not only braces and straightened teeth that singers and celebrities embrace. Whitening treatments (either via a laser or liquid) are extremely popular.
Many famous faces now opt for veneers for that perfect ‘Hollywood smile’. These are a porcelain material placed over the teeth to create even colour and sizing. They usually last around 10 to 15 years, or you can get removal ones to fit. Veneers are a pricey option, running well into thousands of pounds for a full set.
Can you lose your singing voice?
You have no need to fear when it comes to getting your teeth fixed. This will not cause you to lose your singing voice. Even more extreme measure like rhinoplasty (plastic surgery on the nose) is unlikely to cause you to lose your voice (Cher and Cilla Black both had these procedures). However, it might change a little as a result.
Voice loss is more likely to occur from consistent overuse and straining, or in conjunction with a serious illness that affects the voice box. This is why it’s important to take care of your voice as a singer.
Do wisdom teeth affect singing?
Wisdom teeth sit at the very back of your mouth and may, or may not emerge past your gums in your lifetime. They grow much later than other adult teeth, meaning you’ll usually only begin to notice them in your 20s or 30s.
Because of their location, they can be tricky to access with a toothbrush. This is one of the reasons why flossing is recommended, as a deterrent from decay. If you don’t like using string floss, consider buying a sonic flosser, that uses water to wash away tartar and plaque.
If your wisdom teeth start to overcrowd the rest of your mouth or develop decay, your dentist may recommend removing them.
Singing after a wisdom teeth removal – does wisdom teeth removal affect the singing voice?
It’s unlikely that having your wisdom teeth will affect your singing voice much, although the increase of space may enhance the acoustic in your mouth and alter your tone or power slightly. Wisdom teeth can either be removed using a local anaesthetic or via surgery.
Your dentist will advise which option is best for you, depending on how your teeth sit, how many need to be removed and whether they sit in the top or bottom of your mouth. Surgery can carry some risks, but it is generally very safe indeed and nothing to worry about.
I’ve heard models remove wisdom teeth – does wisdom teeth removal change face shape?
In theory, the removal of wisdom teeth can affect your face shape, as they are part of the makeup of your jaw and face. However, in practice, there will be little impact for most people, due to the way the roots and teeth themselves slot into the jaw. If your wisdom teeth can be felt protruding at all when you press your cheek, then some change is more likely.
It’s said that some modes and actresses have opted for removal to slim their cheeks (including Joan Crawford and Marlene Dietrich). If you want to consider this, consult fully with your dentist, who will be able to advise fully, as it will not work for most people.
Difficulty talking after wisdom teeth removal
You may experience some difficulty speaking until the anaesthetic wears off. Here Michael Macintyre gives a hilarious account of his wisdom tooth removal.
Does having an overbite affect singing?
An overbite is where your top jaw sits further forward than your bottom jaw. It can range from being very minimal to be very obvious. An orthodontist may suggest work to reduce your overbite. However, as it affects the cavity space in your mouth, it is all part of the way your vocal physiology is made up, to create your unique sound.
Freddie Mercury’s teeth
Freddie Mercury’s overbite is legendary. He had an unusual resonance that was helped by his overbite and large teeth. Mercury was very self-conscious about his teeth, having been bullied as a child about them. He grew a large moustache to disguise his overbite and even went as far as often holding his hand over his mouth. Yet he refused orthodontic treatment, as he knew he couldn’t risk losing his magical sound.
Does an overbite affect your jawline?
An overbite, without doubt, affects your upper jawline, whether minimally or in a more extreme fashion like Mercury’s. Do consider your image before getting an overbite ‘corrected’. It can give you a distinctive and attractive look – symmetry isn’t everything. And if your overbite does wonders for your sound, definitely leave it as it is.
Overbite after wisdom teeth removed
Your bite may change a little following wisdom teeth removal, especially if both are extracted from either your upper or lower jaw. This is because it creates space for the other teeth to receed, where the back of your mouth was previously too crowded. It should be a very minimal change though.
Should you keep your tongue against back teeth when singing?
Your tongue placement depends on what sound you’re making. You’ll need to move your tongue when singing in order to make the lyrics clear, so you shouldn’t keep it in just one position at all times.
Here are some tips from a German opera singer and vocal coach, Freya Casey, on correct tongue placement.
Do your teeth affect your speech?
Your teeth affect your speech and the diction element of singing more than your tone. This is because words are created with the lips, the tongue and the teeth.
Do missing teeth affect speech?
Missing teeth may affect speech. This depends on where the missing teeth are, how big the gap is and whether your other teeth move to fill the gap – as is often the case where teeth are removed due to overcrowding. Missing front teeth will have more of an impact in general.
Does fixing your teeth affect your voice?
If you have lost important teeth in an accident or due to early decay, you may want to consider fixing them with dentures. These can be made as single implants to replace a missing tooth or as full sets. If tooth loss has affected your voice negatively, or it affects your image, then fixing them will remedy this.
Can you get worse at singing and speaking on stage?
You can definitely get worse at singing and speaking on stage and the number one cause is lack of practice. So the rule is – keep at it! If you don’t keep up vocal exercises your diction, breath control and range will suffer – all of which contributes to how good your performance is.
Nerves and stage fright can also impair your on-stage ability, making you breathy or likely to forget your words. There are methods to overcome stage fright though, so don’t let it get the better of you or inhibit your talent.
Coughs, colds, sore throats and flu viruses can also worsen your voice, but this will be temporary.
Do your teeth vibrate and hurt when you sing?
Your mouth, tongue and teeth all vibrate at the frequency of the note that you’re singing. Particularly if singing high and loudly, you may feel the vibration in your top teeth especially. It’s unusual to experience pain.
If you have a crown, filling or dentures you may experience discomfort as they vibrate independently. If so, your dentist may be able to make adjustments to rectify this.
Another reason you may experience pain in your teeth during singing is tension. If you grind your teeth in your sleep or hold your jaw very tense, that extra vibration that comes when singing powerfully could hurt.
Work on the tension release exercises we mentioned early and look into using a guard for your teeth at night. This will stop you grinding, not only to relieve the discomfort but because grinding is bad for your teeth in the long run, as it wears away at the enamel.
Can your teeth affect your singing? Yes, they certainly can. So look after your teeth and they’ll look after you. Brush twice a day, morning and night. Floss regularly and visit your dentist for a check-up and scale and polish twice a year. If you decide you’d like to have teeth whitening treatment or veneers, make sure you seek advice from a qualified dental health professional first, as these procedures will not be suitable for everyone, particularly if you have sensitive teeth.
- What are the side effects of removing teeth?
The side effects will depend on how many teeth are being removed, where the teeth are in your mouth and the shape of the tooth’s root (a tooth with an s-shaped bend might give a little more trouble). You may experience mild or moderate discomfort afterwards, which can be remedied with painkillers.
- Can wisdom teeth cause loss of voice?
In theory, it is possible that voice loss could result from dental surgery complications. However, this is extremely rare indeed. Do take advice from your dentist and discuss any fears or concerns that you may have, with them.
- Is it ok to talk after tooth extraction?
You will be asked to bite down on some gauze directly after extraction. Your dentist will advise how long for and during this time it’s best not to talk, so you can allow a clot to form in the gap. After this, you should be fine to talk, providing you’re not disturbing the clot with your tongue.
How have your teeth affected your singing? Have you had wisdom teeth removed, or other dental procedures that helped or hindered your performances? Tell us about it in the comments below.