As the best dentist in town, we are focused on the lifelong health of our patients. Sometimes, this means branching out from traditional dentistry to include health concerns as they could relate to other areas of the mouth – in this case, the voice. Your voice is a sound made by the vibrations of your vocal cords, giving you the all-important tool of communication. If you are someone who uses your voice professionally, like a singer, actor, telemarketer, preacher, salesman, attorney, receptionist, teacher, etc., the ability to use your voice is not simply desirable but essential for daily living.
You could have a voice problem if your voice is:
Disappearing (you can’t speak)
It hurts when you try to speak
You can no longer hit high notes
You spit up blood
It constantly feels like something is stuck in your throat
In some cases, these changes could indicate that you have throat cancer. As a dentist, we look for signs of oral cancer during dental exams, since early detection and treatment is key to beating the disease. Knowing that, it is important to pay attention to any changes in your voice that last longer than a month and to see a specialist if you do. If you do not have any signs of cancerous tissue, you could still be suffering from polyps, cysts, or nodules. If you have one of these vocal cord lesions, it can affect how your voice sounds.
Risk factors for voice problems:
As a dentist office, we’ve noticed that the more our patients use their voice, the more likely they are to develop an issue. Recent studies found a correlation between how frequently teachers used their voice and how many suffered from a voice condition at some point in their lifetime. Teachers reported a voice problem 57.7 percent of the time while the general population only reported an issue 28.8 percent of the time. Furthermore, 20 percent of teachers said they missed work due to an issue with their voice, while only 4 percent of the total population had. The best way to prevent a serious or long-term problem is to recognize when the signs start and giving your voice the rest it requires.
Treatment options for vocal problems:
Rest. If you have a vocal cord lesion caused by overuse, it could go away on its own by resting your voice.
Surgery. If you have a cyst or polyp, it may need to be surgically removed.
Therapy. Occupational therapists and voice coaches can often assist by showing you how to sign or speak without irritating your vocal cords. They are also necessary for restoring speech after surgery.
Oncology treatment. If you have throat cancer, you will need therapy that could include surgery and chemotherapy.
If you have a professional voice and are required to speak on a regular basis, watching for signs of a developing condition is critical for ensuring that it does not become a permanent one. For example, some people will develop vocal fold (or cord) paresis and paralysis that results in the muscle being unable to move and you being unable to speak. Close monitoring and immediate care is also important if you were in an accident since this is a common cause of the paralysis.
As a local dentist, we want to know if you have any concerns about the health of your mouth or your voice. Describe any symptoms you are having during your examination, and we will suggest who you should call if that symptom is unrelated to dental care.
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