Are you due to have braces or an extraction? Perhaps you’re feeling apprehensive or worried about how your teeth might impact your future performances.
Dental work is very safe for singers. Your natural mouth shape and cavity will contribute to your sound. But some slight adjustments may make it even better. So how do teeth affect singing and what’s the relationship between wisdom teeth and singing?
In this article, we’ll answer your questions and reassure any concerns you may have about an upcoming trip to the dentist or orthodontist.
Wisdom teeth and singing
Having wisdom teeth removed is often something that worries singers, but it needn’t be. Wisdom teeth sit at the very back of your mouth and may, or may not grow past your gums in your lifetime. They arrive 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 – these use water to wash away tartar and plaque.
If your wisdom teeth start to overcrowd the rest of your mouth, they can be even harder to clean, encouraging decay. In which case your dentist may recommend removing them.
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. If they have very deep roots or are in a hard to reach part of your mouth, this may be done under general anaesthetic. If it’s a simple procedure, a wisdom tooth can be removed in minutes, under local anaesthetic. You’ll need to bite down on a swab for a time afterwards until the wound forms a clot and take care not to disrupt the clot until it heals. This just means chewing carefully in another part of your mouth and avoiding very hot or cold drinks (and singers should always drink lukewarm drinks anyway!).
Do wisdom teeth change the voice?
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 recede, where the back of your mouth was previously too crowded. It should be a very minimal change though.
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.
How do teeth affect singing?
Many people need braces and there’s every chance that some extractions may be necessary during your lifetime, due to decay or overcrowding. 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, eating well and avoiding fizzy or acidic drinks is an important part of your daily routine.
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.
Does 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.
Your mouth size and shape 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.
Your mouth mould is not the only determining factor in your voice though. 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.
Singers with missing 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.
Some singers and celebrities prefer to keep things natural or decide to rock a gap between their two front teeth, like Madonna.
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.
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.
Does fixing your teeth change your voice?
Getting your teeth straightened as an adult is expensive. Children, however, can get treatment for free on the NHS. The most common reasons for getting teeth fixed are aesthetics and to prevent overcrowding, which in turn causes decay. However, singing and speech may be a factor too. 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.
An overbite, without doubt, affects your upper jawline, whether minimally or in a more extreme fashion. 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.
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. 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. Good veneers will not have an impact on this.
Teeth vibrating when singing
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. If you have a crown, filling or dentures you may experience discomfort as they vibrate independently. Speak to your dentist who can make adjustments to rectify this.
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 some tension release exercises 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.
You only get one set of adult teeth and if you don’t take good care of them, they may decay and might have to be extracted further down the line. 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 want to get your teeth whitened or have cosmetic procedures on them, do this via a registered dentist. They’ll always have your dental health as the priority.
- Did Freddie Mercury’s teeth help him sing?
He had an unusual resonance that was helped by his overbite and large teeth. Mercury was very self-conscious about them. He grew a moustache to disguise his overbite, sometimes holding his hand over his mouth. But he refused orthodontic treatment, as he knew he couldn’t risk changing his voice.
- Do straight teeth make you sing better?
Straight teeth alone won’t make you sing better, and it’s unlikely that braces will make a 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.
- What are the 4 types of teeth?
The front teeth are called incisors. These are followed by the canines in the oral cavity. Your pre-molars are behind the canines, used to crush food and the molars are right at the back. Wisdom teeth are even further back, but some people’s wisdom teeth never erupt through the gums.
Have your teeth affected your singing? Perhaps you’ve had them fixed and you’ve been delighted with the results? Let us know in the comments below.