How Orthodontic Treatment Affects Wind Instrument Players And How To Deal With It

If you are an artist who plays a wind instrument, you should be aware of the effect of orthodontic treatment on your playing ability. Don't ignore this effect if you don't want to hate your orthodontics, and the way they make you sound, soon after the treatment. Apart from interfering with your playing ability, the interaction of the instrument and your dental treatment may also create some discomfort while playing.

What Exactly Causes the Effect?

The embouchure is the shape you make with your mouth when playing a wind instrument, such as the brass. Your embouchure is a factor of different facial structures, such as your tongue, lips, and teeth. Even the slightest change in embouchure alters your tune. Unfortunately, some forms of orthodontic treatments will alter your embouchure and inevitably change your tune, playing endurance, and even range.

Which Treatments Cause It, and What Determines Its Severity?

Any orthodontic treatment that alters the shape of your mouth or lips can have this effect. This includes braces, veneers, and retainers. The seriousness of the effect depends on these two main factors:

  • The type of your treatment – For example, the effect of veneers may not be as great as the effect of braces since the latter are bigger than veneers.
  • The type of instrument you play – For example, single reed player may not experience the same degree of effect as a double reed player; this is because when playing a single reed, the instrument doesn't rest against the top lip.

What Can You Do To Reduce It?

The good news is that the effect of the treatment on your playing ability is likely to be temporary. Many players regain their pre-treatment abilities after a few months. However, whether your readjustment takes a long or short time depends on what you will be doing at this time. Here are some of the measures that can help speed up your readjustment:

  • Inform your dentist about the instrument you play—in some cases, the dentist may be able to modify your treatment to have the least impact possible.
  • If you are taking music lessons, tell your teacher about it so they can help you adjust; it's possible that the teacher has handled other students like you.
  • Take advantage of aids that have been proven to help players like you. (For example, many flute players report a great reduction in their discomfort (during play) after applying wax to each instrument's bracket to reduce the impingement on their cheeks.)

Whatever you do, don't remove your dental treatments even if they seem to be getting in the way of your playing ability; doing that can set back your treatment considerably. For more information, contact local professionals like Carolina Forest Family Dentistry.​