Advice for Musicians
Wind and brass players often have specific concerns before and during treatment. The information in this section aims to provide practical advice on orthodontic treatment if you are a musician.
Braces and Wind Instruments
Playing a wind instrument is a complex task involving the muscles of the face and lips, the tongue and the teeth. Some musicians who play a wind instrument may find that orthodontic treatment affects their ability to practise and perform.
Inexperienced musicians will probably find that wearing a brace doesn’t change their performance very much, but more experienced, proficient players may notice a greater change. The good news is, that with practice and motivation, most wind instrument players can adjust to wearing braces. The information here explains what wind instrument musicians can expect whilst wearing a brace and suggests some ways of coping with problems.
Before you start orthodontic treatment you should talk to your orthodontist about the instrument you play, the brace you will need and the possible difficulties you may have with your musical performance whilst wearing a brace. This may affect whether you decide to go ahead with orthodontic treatment or not.
If you have a cold sore, it may be best to cancel your appointment with the orthodontist.
Advice for Musicians Wearing Removable Braces
- Removable braces can usually be removed whilst playing and so may not affect playing at all. However, the change in the position of the teeth and their alignment may affect your performance.
- Ask your orthodontist if you are able to take your brace out when you play your musical instrument.
- Tell your orthodontist how many hours you practice each day. Leaving your brace out for long periods of time might influence the success of your treatment.
- When you are not wearing your brace, make sure you keep it in a safe place so that you don’t lose or break it.
Advice for Musicians Wearing Fixed Braces
- Most wind instrument musicians will get used to wearing a fixed brace within a few months. The more you practice, the quicker you will adjust to your new brace.
- If you play a woodwind instrument such as a clarinet or saxophone, you may adjust to your new brace very quickly.
- If you play a brass instrument such as a trumpet or trombone you may have problems playing high notes, especially soon after your brace is first fitted.
- If you are having a new brace fitted, try to arrange this at a time when you don’t have important music exams, auditions or performances. Your music teacher should be able to advise you about important dates.
- Some types of fixed brace may be more difficult to get used to than others. Before you start orthodontic treatment make sure your orthodontist knows that you play a wind instrument.
- If your musical performance is very important to you, it may be possible for your orthodontist to fit part of your brace to see how you cope with this before having the whole brace fitted. Ask your orthodontist about this.
- Your brace may rub the inside of your lips and cheeks. Various products made of plastic or wax can be used to protect your lips when you are playing. Ask your orthodontist what would be most suitable for you. Because the mouthpiece of a brass instrument is pressed against the lips, some players find that the inside of their lips become sore whilst practising or performing. If this is a problem for you, ask your music teacher if your mouthpiece can be changed for a larger one to spread the load more. Wind instrument players sometimes get a dry mouth whilst practising or performing.
- Because the mouthpiece of a brass instrument is pressed against the lips, some players find that the inside of their lips become sore whilst practising or performing. If this is a problem for you, ask your music teacher if your mouthpiece can be changed for a larger one to spread the load more.
- Wind instrument players sometimes get a dry mouth whilst practising or performing. Consider practising for no more than 10 to 15 minutes at a time and take regular breaks to drink plenty of water during the practice sessions or performances. Refrain from drinking fruit drinks, fizzy drinks and sugary drinks which can all damage your teeth.
- If you have teeth removed as part of your treatment, it may be a good idea to stop playing your instrument for approximately two weeks until healing has occurred. Ask your dentist for advice.
- When your orthodontic treatment is finished and your brace is removed it will take a little while to get used to playing without a brace, but your new tooth positions should not affect your ability to play.
- Finally, at the end of your treatment you must wear your retainers as your orthodontist has prescribed.
Although having a brace will temporarily affect musical performance, the good news is that with practice and motivation, most wind instrument players can adjust to wearing braces. Before starting treatment talk to your orthodontist about how treatment may affect your performance. If you have problems during treatment ask your orthodontist for advice.