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Loss of reinforced falsetto/wisdom teeth/laryngitis

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JakeMcM
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Well let me start by saying that I've had a heck of a month or so. For starters a little over a month ago I got sick and went very hoarse. i had a dry, unproductive cough for several days. I got better and returned to singing. Practices were a bit rough and there was one practice where by the very end i couldn't pull off anything that required some high reinforced falsetto notes out of me. An example would be the end of Ratt "Wanted Man". I'd try and no sound, but cracking, or air would come out. I stopped, rested and returned to practice the following week. this time i could hit the end notes a lot more easily and even went back and did them several times.

About a week later I had to get two wisdom teeth removed on the right side of my mouth. The lower tooth was impacted and it was a long, painful and traumatic removal. My jaw was open very long, and very wide! Its been about 3 weeks and my jaw still feels slightly stiff and resists being unhinged slightly. In addition, a nerve was damaged and caused my lips, chin, and gums to remain numb for the weeks following the surgery. this condition has improved but still some numbness and irritation around the chin area. If that wasn't enough i developed a dry socket infection and my jaw and cheek swelled up very badly and painfully. As of right now the swelling has disappeared but it was pretty slow going.

So where i stand right now is that my voice in the chest register and even some of my head tones sound as normal. Maybe not 100% but im guessing its because i haven't sang in awhile and there is still some stiffness in my face and jaw. However my reinforced falsetto is basically gone. With a lot of concentration I can produce some week pharyngeal tones but if I really go for it on something like GnR Nighttrain (the end or the "never to return" part before solo) I crack or get nothing.

I have only been sing about a year and a half but i've been doing my best to avoid strain and have been working through Breaking the Chains for some time. However i admit i probably over due it and my voice has sounded tired or choked at times. But i usually stop and experience no other symptoms the next day etc. Can any of you guys give me some idea as to what is going on? Why is only one element of my voice seemingly affected by all my recent trauma? I have an important show a week from this Saturday. What can I do to aid recovery? How can i safely test this area of my voice without just causing further injury? Any direction will be much appreciated.

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At one time, it was thought that men could not sing as high as women and so men that did were described as falsetto. But modernly, we know, falsetto is not a range but a timbre, or type of singing, as I used to call it. Falsetto is characterized by weak fold adduction where a lot of air escapes and only the thinnest layers of the membrane vibrate. This produces an airy tone that has no resonance. So, reinforced falsetto is something of an oxymoron (mutually contradicting terms.) If you have a loud or full note in what you think is your falsetto, that is actually full headvoice.

Anyway, higher notes are aided by a dropped jaw, which helps to stabilize the larynx and raise the soft palate, thereby freeing the throat and allowing the note to rise and resonate in the bony head cavities, such as behind the sinus. A high note needs a small space to resonate. However, having the throat open with a relaxed, dropped jaw allows some overtones to join in, creating a "darker" tone to the note. (Meat", as it were.)

But if you say you had nerve damage from the extraction that affected your lips, might it have also affected the coordination of the TA muscles, which are engaged in the highest notes? The body is wired weird together. It's a known fact that not every system in your body is totally disconnect from others, each with their own slider controls, so to speak.

You might need to see a doctor.

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Hi Jake:

Your friendly medical -voice therapist here ... I'm sorry to hear of your trouble. Changes in jaw position or in the muscles around the jaw can indirectly impact the vocal mechanism. They're not "wired" on the exact same nerve tract, but the mechanics do overlap, so your throat may be suffering from indirect "collateral damage." Your vocal cords might also be dry, either from medications you've needed (antibiotic, painkillers) or from temporarily breathing differently.

I'd strongly recommend that you get your vocal cords examined by an ear-nose-throat doctor who understands singing. Best type of exam is "video-stroboscopy," and in your situation it is worth travelling for.

Meantime please do NOT push your voice to try to sound like you did before! Your whole mouth-throat system has been through trauma, and needs time to rest & heal. Do your best to recover from the dental extractions, with nutrition, fluids, sleep, etc., & divert your musical energy into learning lyrics, instrument licks, or other non-vocal activities. 5 minutes of gentle singing warmups, scales, etc. every day is OK & will help you track how your voice is doing. But most important is to find a good voice doctor if you can.

cheers,

Joanna

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  • 5 years later...

this post is very old, but my daughter is experiencing the same thing.  Had wisdom teeth out in June, had persistent numbness tingling on right side of lips and chin and still does six months later.  in Sept, lost high register, and speaking voice is now affected as well.  Went to the Vanderbilt Voice center and they are amazing. Highly recommend them for anyone   They said that they did not think the nerves were related but that her nerve to her left vocal chord is compromised, causing her vocal chord to be thinner on that side.  She had a CT and blood panels to rule out things, but nothing else is wrong.  The vandy docs think the nerves will reawaken, but can last up to 12 months.  She reassured me it's not from the wisdom teeth but I wonder?

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