Let’s face it: Mouth noise is icky. The sound of it can send a listener’s skin crawling. Most producers would rather re-track a piece than go over an audio file with a fine-tooth comb to remove all that noise. Many people have been asking me lately: what can I do about mouth noise? Here are a few things I’ve tried over the years, and what works for me. If you have more tricks that work, please comment, or tweet @JessActs using #fixmouthnoise
An Ounce of Prevention…
To prevent mouth noise:
Hydrate! Drink water often throughout the day. According to the Mayo Clinic, we typically don’t get enough water. The standard “8 glasses a day” is actually too little. The Daily Mail offers this formula to calculate how much your body needs. It puts me at 13 glasses each day! Also, we lose water as we respirate during sleep, so try starting your day with a glass of water.
Limit caffeine. I make sure I stop drinking my coffee a few hours before I open the mic. Every body is different, and Morning Edition host David Greene drinks coffee the whole time he’s on air. So try a few things out, and see what works for your body.
Limit alcohol. Like caffeine, alcohol can dehydrate you. If you’re tracking or on-air the next morning, take care not to imbibe too much the night before….
Notice how various foods make your mouth feel. If you find that some foods make your mouth feel drier or “chewy,” avoid those foods before your session. For me, chocolate, pickles, bananas, and dairy cause mouth noise. Pay attention to your mouth 5, 15, and 30 minutes after you eat to see which foods cause mouth noise for you.
The dairy controversy! Studies have shown that dairy does not create mucus, but some still maintain that dairy does thicken the mucus in your body. Pay attention to your body and mouth after eating those foods – it may not have any effect on you, but it’s worth the experiment.
Don’t brush your teeth right before a session. While refreshing, toothpaste often has a drying effect.
A Pound of Cure…
To remedy mouth noise:
Sometimes all of the prevention in the world still fails and you can hear your mouth making those icky noises. What then? You’ve probably been directed to drink water to eliminate mouth noise. Did it work? Probably not…drinking water does NOT usually work for most people to get rid of mouth noise. So what to do?
Chew gum. Chewing gum gets the mouth to release your natural saliva. Chew a piece as you’re setting up, before you get started. Or, if you can, take a break midstream to chew another piece to activate those salivary glands. Be careful with this idea and don’t over do it — habitual gum chewing can overwork your jaw muscles and cause jaw tension, giving you a different problem to solve!
Floss. Yep! While brushing makes my mouth noise worse, flossing helps my mouth feel smoother and the activity in my gums helps stimulate saliva production.
Drink licorice or Throat Coat tea. The licorice and the slippery elm bark in “throat coat” teas are like putting a layer of slippery smoothness on your mouth. I love slippery elm bark for this (it’s also great for soothing a tired throat). Singers often use slippery elm bark lozenges, so give those a try, too.
Eat a green apple. A common trick in the voiceover industry is to eat a green apple or drink apple juice.
If none of the above are available, run your tongue around the full perimeter of your mouth, between your teeth and your lips and your cheeks. This can also stimulate saliva production and smooth out that dry mouth feel — even if you need to do it frequently.
These are my tried-and-true tricks for solving mouth noise daily. What have you tried? What’s worked for you? These tricks are geared toward solving mouth noise caused by dryness. Do you have mouth noise cause by extra moisture? Tweet me at @JessActs using #fixmouthnoise. Good luck in your next session on the mic!
For more on mouth noise, check out The Ear Training Guide for Audio Producers