Play instruments with braces. Young patients have many questions when beginning a course of orthodontic treatment. One of the most frequently asked questions is about playing musical instruments during the treatment period. Is it even possible? Are some instruments more difficult to play during treatment than others? Will playing a musical instrument cause any problems with the outcome of orthodontic treatment itself? This blog post addresses these concerns to put parents’ and patients’ minds at ease.
Play Instruments with Braces?
As a young aspiring musician, the prospect of beginning a course of orthodontic treatment may not sound appealing. Yes, the treatment will improve overall oral health and provide a brilliant straight smile, but that only happens after the hardware comes off! Play instruments with braces? for sure you can.
In the meantime, in the traditionally impatient ways of the young, there is several months or so of wait time up ahead. And band season, football season and the semester’s performance schedule won’t wait that long. The good news here is that it is possible to continue to practice and perform on any musical instrument while undergoing orthodontic treatment.
Taking a Look at Orthodontics with Individual Instruments
Young patients will find that some musical instruments are easier to navigate than others with orthodontic hardware in place. One other issue that many young musicians report when playing musical instruments after getting their braces is an increase in condensation (i.e. saliva). This typically doesn’t cause any major problems. It just means the instrument often needs to be wiped down more frequently.
Typically, woodwind instruments that use reeds are going to be the easiest musical instruments to get used to after having hardware installed. This is because the reed makes it unnecessary for the teeth to touch the instrument mouthpiece, so there is less chance of the hardware abrading the inner mouth tissues. For this reason, saxophone players, oboe and bassoon players and clarinet players will typically have the easiest time adjusting to their new hardware.
Flute players may find the transition slightly more complicated because of the importance of the bottom lip placement. This placement can in turn put some pressure on the sensitive tissues of the lower inside lip, which may then get abraded and irritated by the hardware itself.
However, our patients who play the flute tell us it is possible to adjust for this. The best way to compensate is to work with your teacher to minimize the need for bottom lip pressure, alter breathing and find other ways to produce a steady, even tone.
There is no doubt that playing brass instruments while wearing traditional braces is perhaps the most difficult transition to make. Here again, our patients who play brass instruments tell us it can absolutely be done, but it can take some getting used to at the start. Here, our patients have let us know that the smaller the mouthpiece is, the bigger the challenge will be to transition.
The French horn, the trumpet, the cornet, the flugelhorn and even the trombone have smaller mouthpieces, which will require altering your embouchure to avoid putting too much pressure on your teeth and abrading the sensitive tissues of your inner lips and cheeks. The tuba, baritone horn and euphonium have slightly larger mouthpieces, which can make the transition feel less awkward or irritating to your mouth tissues.
Alternatives to Traditional Orthodontic Treatment for Young Musicians
For serious young aspiring musicians, the choice of living with traditional braces is not necessarily the only option on the table. Another potential treatment is Invisalign. While not every patient is a candidate, for those who are, Invisalign is now available for teens and children as well as for adults. The Invisalign system makes planning for music competitions, recitals and performances easy. Since the Invisalign aligners can be easily removed as needed, they will not interfere with these types of important events.
The one factor to take into consideration, however, is that the Invisalign system is designed so that the aligners are worn 23 hours per day. This leaves one hour daily grace period when the aligners can be removed for oral hygiene. They can also be removed for rare special events without undo concern. But Invisalign as a treatment works best when the patient is very committed to wearing their aligners consistently at least 23 hours per day so that the teeth don’t have any incentive to try to move out of place.
If you and your child are interested in exploring Invisalign as an alternative, we can talk about the best approach to maximize treatment outcomes. With Invisalign you can play instruments with braces without issue.
When to Schedule Your Child’s Orthodontic Treatment
If you are parenting a gifted young musician, timing the start date for your child’s treatment can feel complicated. While we have many young patients – children, tweens and teens as well as adults who have adapted well to playing a musical instrument while having orthodontic treatment, we advise not scheduling the treatment start or end date near a major performance, audition, recital or contest.
There can be a period of time required to adjust in either direction. If your child has an important event coming up, be sure to let us know so we can work around that date when planning hardware installation or removal.
About Gorton & Schmohl Orthodontics
Dr. Bill Schmohl, Dr. Jasmine Gorton and Dr. Sona Bezmekian are the medical directors for Gorton & Schmohl Orthodontics in Marin County. This friendly practice serves patients of all ages with cutting-edge orthodontic technology. They say you can play instruments with braces.
You will find all of the latest progressive orthodontic treatments, from light scanners to diode lasers, 3-D imaging and X-ray in a cloud-based paperless system that makes it easy for both patient and provider to access health records. The practice has also been in the top one percent of providers for the Invisalign technology since 2006. Schedule your initial consultation at Gorton & Schmohl Orthodontics.
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Gorton & Schmohl Orthodontics
900 Larkspur Landing Circle
Suite 200 Larkspur
Text or call us at 415 459 8006
Can I Play Instruments with Braces (3 ANSWERS)