Playing a wind instrument with braces can be very difficult. For many children and teenagers the fear of loosing the ability to play their instrument can be a real barrier to getting braces. In fact some who are very serious about their music may choose not to fix their teeth, to avoid disrupting their music career.
The truth is those fears are not totally unfounded. A survey on high school bands published in the Journal of Clinical Orthodontics, showed that almost all wind instrument players suffered difficulties with conventional braces. Woodwind instrument players were less affected than brass players. In fact brass players were the worst affected group. Most students said they had to re-establish their “embouchures”. This means essentially they had to relearn how to play their instruments. The most common problem was impingement of the lips and cheeks between the mouthpiece and the braces.
Solutions for playing wind instruments with braces:
There are many remedies that are suggested by various companies. Most commonly the patients will be given wax to apply to the braces, however braces do still pierce through the wax. Another popular choice is a special silicon sleeve or guard, which can cover the braces. However this sleeve does require that teeth are already relatively straight, which can be months into the treatment.
The Best Solution to playing wind instruments with braces is to use Lingual Braces. Lingual braces are placed on the inside surface or the back surface of the teeth. There are no sharp braces or wires to impinge on the lips and cheeks. We have now offered lingual braces to children and teenage patients for over 6 years, and it is the most effective way to have orthodontic treatment, with the least impact on their musical career.
We are perhaps the only practice in Australia that offers lingual braces routinely for teenagers, and we have adapted protocols to make their treatment with lingual braces just as fast and effective, as conventional braces, but without interruption of our patients’ music careers.
Invisalign Teen is another treatment options, and we have had great results with Invisalign Teen. It has the advantage that it can be removed for practice and playing music. However if the musician spends long hours practicing their instrument, treatment can be prolonged as the required 22 hours of aligner placement a day may be compromised. In addition Invisalign is not the most suitable treatment for certain bite issues. At our initial assessment we will discuss the different options and usually find the best appliance that will suit both the patients lifestyle, and deliver the best outcome for their teeth, which maybe a combination of both Lingual braces and Invisalign.