As many enter the voiceover and voice acting arena, there is an area not usually addressed in blogs, at conferences, or during training sessions. The mouth and vocal cords play an essential role in the success of anyone who speaks for a living. Moreover, dental and vocal care can affect how a voice talent speaks, breaths, and feels. Your teeth, breathing, and the way you form and express words are so crucial that such items can break or make your voiceover career. Here’s how you can practice healthy vocal and dental care for voiceover success.
Your Pearly Whites
Human teeth nicknamed “Pearly Whites” are the first item of note in our mouth matters. The Mayo Clinics’ Healthy Lifestyle, Adult health article provides steps to promote oral health. Consider these brushing basics from the American Dental Association:
- Brush your teeth twice a day. When you brush, don’t rush. Take time to do a thorough job.
- Use the proper equipment. Use a fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush that fits your mouth comfortably. Consider using an electric or battery-operated toothbrush, which can reduce plaque and a mild form of gum disease (gingivitis) more than does manual brushing. These devices are also helpful if you have arthritis or other problems that make it difficult to brush effectively.
- Practice good technique. Hold your toothbrush at a slight angle — aiming the bristles toward the area where your tooth meets your gum. Gently brush with short back-and-forth motions. Remember to brush the outside, inside and chewing surfaces of your teeth, as well as your tongue.
- Keep your equipment clean. Always rinse your toothbrush with water after brushing. Store your toothbrush in an upright position and allow it to air-dry until using it again. Try to keep it separate from other toothbrushes in the same holder to prevent cross-contamination. Don’t routinely cover toothbrushes or store them in closed containers, which can encourage the growth of bacteria, mold, and yeast.
- Know when to replace your toothbrush. Invest in a new toothbrush or a replacement head for your electric or battery-operated toothbrush every three to four months — or sooner if the bristles become irregular or frayed.
Choppers and the Voice
Good mouth care also includes monitoring the voice. Overuse of the voice can negatively affect the healthiest mouth. The National Institutes on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) provides information on protecting your voice.
- Try not to overuse your voice. Avoid speaking or singing when your voice is hoarse or tired.
- Rest your voice when you are sick. Illness puts extra stress on your voice.
- Avoid using the extremes of your vocal range, such as screaming or whispering. Talking too loudly and too softly can both stress your voice.
- Practice good breathing techniques when singing or talking. Support your voice with deep breaths from the chest, and don’t rely on your throat alone. Singers and speakers are often taught exercises that improve this kind of breath control. Talking from the throat, without supporting breath, puts a great strain on the voice.
- Avoid cradling the phone when talking. Cradling the phone between the head and shoulder for extended periods of time can cause muscle tension in the neck.
- Consider using a microphone when appropriate (and correct placement for the voiceover). In relatively static environments such as exhibit areas, classrooms, or exercise rooms, a lightweight microphone and an amplifier-speaker system can be of great help.
- Avoid talking in noisy places. Trying to talk above noise causes strain on the voice.
- Consider voice therapy. A speech-language pathologist who is experienced in treating voice problems can teach you how to use your voice in a healthy way.
A little care and attention to the mouth can lead to a long and successful voiceover career. You always want to keep your vocal health on the side of your voiceover success. Now go and break that lip!