With football season well and truly underway, band is in full swing as well! If you’re a band teen with braces on the horizon, you may be wondering if you’ll still be able to play your instrument once those brackets are placed. While this is a common concern, the good news is that straightening your smile shouldn’t interfere with your music-making ability in the least!
Here at Saddle Creek Orthodontics, we want to help you succeed in all your endeavors throughout your orthodontic journey. While there will be an adjustment period after getting your braces on, you’ll be hitting all the right notes in no time! Let’s take a closer look at some tried-and-true tips for our musically inclined orthodontic patients.
Wax on, wax off
Once you’ve had your braces put on, you’ll want to take advantage of the orthodontic wax we provide for you. This wax is great in all sorts of situations, and can work for you as you get accustomed to playing your instrument in braces, too! Every wind instrument requires you to press the instrument’s mouthpiece against your lips, which puts a small amount of pressure on your braces. This can lead to areas of your lips or gums feeling irritated or sore after playing for a while.
Placing wax over any of those pressure spots will help reduce or eliminate some of that resulting irritation. If you find yourself really struggling to play your instrument without discomfort, a full application of wax may be necessary. It does take more time and effort to apply the wax across each part of your braces, but if it allows you to practice and play without pain, the end result will be worth it!
Practice makes perfect
Practice, patience, and persistence is the key to excelling at any skill, including music. These virtues also come in handy when it comes to braces! Practice will be especially important in helping you get comfortable with playing an instrument while undergoing orthodontic treatment. In the first few days, it will definitely feel strange and maybe even a little uncomfortable. This can be especially pronounced with an instrument like a trumpet or trombone, but woodwinds can have the same effect.
Frequent practice will build calluses up on the inside of your lips and make them less sensitive. It will also give you a chance to retrain the way you place your mouth on the mouthpiece, which will need some adjusting after you have braces put on. The entire process can take a week or so, but before you know it, playing with your braces on will feel completely natural.
Be aware of your braces
For most patients who play instruments, braces won’t affect their tonguing. This can occur, however, if any part of the braces are on the backside or inside of the teeth. An expander is a good example of this. This appliance goes across the top of the mouth, so if you’ve been trained to tongue against the roof of your mouth, that will no longer be a good option and you’ll have to work on a new style.
We’ve found that many orthodontic patients will tongue against the bottom edge of their top row of teeth when playing their chosen instrument. This seems to give them a bit more control, and it also allows them to avoid an expander or any other part of the braces that may be on the inside of their teeth. Find what feels comfortable for you and practice so you can develop new muscle memory for your chosen method!
Take a deep breath
Quite literally, most musicians will need to use more breath while playing an instrument in braces. This tends to affect woodwinds the most, since they often find themselves clamping down harder on the mouthpiece than they used to. More figuratively, though, this is the perfect time to reassess your current practice routine. Since you’re already adjusting the way you play in some ways, give some thought to your normal routine and see if there are any mistakes you can correct going forward.
Not sure where to start? Go soft and slow with the low tones first to find the most comfortable position for your mouth that also gives you the best sound. As we mentioned above, your muscle memory for playing is going to be disrupted, so give your mouth time to find the most optimal new position. From there, you can work your way up to the higher notes, slurring as you go. When you pay attention to your positioning, your breath, and your braces, you’ll sound better than ever!
Consider an alternative to traditional braces
If you’re truly worried about how traditional braces will affect your musical abilities, don’t be afraid to explore other treatment options. Even though braces are unlikely to interfere with performances, some musicians aren’t excited about the idea of an adjustment period and don’t want to have to learn new tricks of the trade. Saddle Creek Orthodontics offers Invisalign and Invisalign Teen as an alternative to braces, and Dr. Fagala can let you know if you’re a candidate for this treatment when you schedule a free consultation with us!
Instead of brackets and wires, the Invisalign system uses a series of clear aligners to gently move the teeth over time. Because they’re designed to be removable, Invisalign aligners give patients an extra degree of freedom and flexibility. That means you can take them out for short periods of time, like practices and performances, then put them right back in when you’re done. Invisalign can be an excellent option for anyone looking for a treatment option that won’t affect their lifestyle! In many cases, the aligners work just as well as braces at achieving a healthy, beautiful smile.
Hit the right notes with a smile from Saddle Creek Orthodontics
Improving your oral health doesn’t have to keep you from doing the things you love! Dr. Fagala will be happy to listen to all your concerns as a musician and work with you to find the right solution for your smile. With two convenient offices in Germantown and Collierville, you’re never too far away from straighter teeth and a happy smile that hits all the high notes. Get in touch today to schedule your FREE consultation with Dr. Fagala!