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How a healthy mouth can protect your voice

May 21, 2024
The systemic effects of a healthy mouth are far-reaching. Learn more about how oral health affects vocal quality and specifically allows voice professionals and singers to maintain their voices at a high level.

Oral health plays a key role not only in general well-being, but also in maintaining the voice quality of voice professionals and singers. A healthy mouth enables an effortless smile and promotes smooth singing and performing.

Minttu Ripatti, a phonetician in Finland, says:

The human voice is a wonderful instrument that conveys emotion! Both voice and oral health are important to avoid voice problems and to ensure that not only the spoken message but also the important facial expressions and gestures can support the message the voice is conveying.


Minttu Ripatti’s work has focused on pronunciation and sound production and their acoustic and physiological properties. Through her work, she has seen the impact of the voice on performance confidence and vocal range, among other things. As a pioneer in her field, she established a specialty in clinical phonetics in Finland at the HUS Phoniatrics Outpatient Clinic in 2016–2017. During her career, she has also trained professional speakers, especially in the field of voice ergonomics and voice use.

Minttu points out that oral health can also have an impact on sound production. For example, several studies have investigated the effects of dry mouth on sound quality, especially the consequences of hyposalivation and xerostomia.1,2

Good oral hygiene is the foundation for a lasting smile

Hyposalivation is a condition in which salivation is reduced from normal levels. This can occur as a result of dry mouth caused by medication use or salivary gland dysfunction. The mouth normally becomes dry in situations such as stress, medication, or dehydration, but hyposalivation is a condition where the dryness is persistent or significant, which can cause discomfort and affect oral health.2

According to Minttu, dry mouth can affect voice function in several ways, including reducing vocal fold flexibility and increasing laryngeal irritation, which can lead to voice roughness and hoarseness. This highlights the importance of dry mouth care in maintaining sound quality and supporting voice health.

Minttu says another area of research has focused on the impact of dentures on articulation and voice quality. Poorly fitting dentures can make speech formation and voice clarity difficult, which can lead to unclear pronunciation and reduced speech intelligibility.3 It is, therefore, important to ensure the correct fit of dentures and to visit the dentist regularly, especially for speech professionals and singers.

Gum health has also been linked to a person’s quality of life. Studies have shown that healthy gums can promote a fuller, more natural smile, which can have a positive impact on emotional expression, self-esteem, and overall quality of life. This highlights the link between oral health and mental well-being, which is important to consider in holistic health care.4,5

Getting vocal ergonomics right

Minttu points out that sound production takes place at the level of the larynx, and vocal ergonomics, for example, focuses on “improving” the environment for the vocal cords—such as through proper hydration and vocal warm-ups.

“Oral health can affect swallowing and articulation. Of course, it is possible that a complex infection in the pharynx, for example, could be of dental origin, so oral health comes into play there, possibly also affecting phonation through pharyngeal infection. But this has not been studied as far as I know.”

Minttu adds that oral health can affect a speaker’s willingness to engage in speaking situations and to use their voice. Successful public speaking requires many mental qualities and skills, including confidence, concentration, stress tolerance, courage, creativity, and the ability to manage tension. A positive attitude, motivation, empathy with the audience, and the ability to deal with potential failure are also required.

Good oral health and oral hygiene are the foundation for a long-lasting smile and the confidence needed to perform. In addition, good oral hygiene maintains fresh breath and reduces halitosis, which can be critical to maintaining confidence in performance situations.

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in Clinical Insights newsletter, a publication of the Endeavor Business Media Dental Group. Read more articles and subscribe.


  1. Grinstein-Koren O, Herzog N, Amir O. Hyposalivation affecting womens’ voice. J Voice. 2023;37(3):469.e19-469.e27. doi:10.1016/j.jvoice.2021.01.004
  2. Saghiri MA, Vakhnovetsky A, Vakhnovetsky J. Scoping review of the relationship between xerostomia and voice quality. Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2023;280(7):3087-3095. doi:10.1007/s00405-023-07941-x
  3. Broka K, Vidzis A, Grigorjevs J, Sokolovs J, Zigurs G. The influence of removable denture design on patient’s voice quality. Stomatologija. 2013;15(1):20-25.
  4. Patel RR, Richards PS, Inglehart MR. Periodontal health, quality of life and smile patterns—an exploration. J Periodontol. 2008;79(2):224-231. doi:10.1902/jop.2008.070344
  5. Bergström J, Eliasson S. Dental care habits, oral hygiene and gingival health in Swedish professional musicians. Acta Odontol Scand. 1985;43(4):191-197. doi:10.3109/00016358509046498

Nina Garlo-Melkas, MSc, is a health and science journalist who works as communications manager at Koite Health Ltd., a quickly growing health technology company and innovator in light-activated antibacterial solutions for treating and preventing oral diseases.

About the Author

Nina Garlo-Melkas, MSc

Nina Garlo-Melkas, MSc, is a health and science journalist who works as communications manager at Koite Health Ltd., a quickly growing health technology company and innovator in light-activated antibacterial solutions for treating and preventing oral diseases.