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Can My Child Still Play a Wind Instrument with Braces?

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young trombone playerWhen your child decided to do band in school, you were overjoyed. They’re going to learn a skill they’ll be able to use for the rest of their life, plus they’ll get to meet and hang out with a large group of their peers who share the same interests. But then, your child’s dentist threw a wrench into the works: they’ve recommended your little Mozart get braces. This obviously doesn’t matter if your child plays drums, percussion, or guitar/bass, but what about a wind instrument? Will braces force them to put their instrument down until treatment is done? Will they make playing so uncomfortable that your child will want to quit? Fortunately, according to an orthodontist in Powell, band kids and band parents alike have nothing to be concerned about.

Is it Possible to Play a Wind Instrument with Braces?

In short, yes! Braces in no way will inhibit your child’s ability to make wonderful sounds come out of the bell. Of course, playing won’t feel exactly like it did before braces, but with a little adjustment, your child will be able to pick up their instrument without even thinking about their treatment.

Right after your child has their braces put on, they’ll likely experience some general soreness in their mouth as their teeth adjust. It’s recommended that they take a few days off from playing during this period, so be sure to give your child’s band director a head’s up if needed.

Once your child feels relatively comfortable, it’s time to practice, practice, practice! Generally, your child will find that it is less comfortable to use their normal amount of reed/mouthpiece pressure to play because their brackets will press into their teeth and lips. The best way to get around this is to use less pressure and more air support. Fortunately, this works for all wind instruments, including:

  • Flute
  • Clarinet
  • Saxophone (Alto, Tenor, and Bari)
  • Oboe
  • Bassoon
  • Trumpet
  • French Horn
  • Trombone
  • Baritone
  • Tuba

In fact, by making them focus on their air and relax any lip pressure, your child will likely be able to improve their playing and even fix some old bad habits. Also, your orthodontist can provide things like dental wax to smooth over any specific areas of the brackets that might be causing irritation.

Is there an Alternative to Braces?

Invisalign Teen is an orthodontic system that uses clear plastic aligners to shift the teeth rather than metal brackets and wires. The aligners themselves are very smooth and practically invisible, and they can easily be taken off whenever your child wants to eat or clean their teeth. Typically, it’s easier for children to adjust to playing a wind instrument with Invisalign, but it will take a little more effort on your child’s part to ensure the treatment works. Be sure to bring this option up with their orthodontist.

All in all, braces don’t have to be the end of your child’s music career. Things may feel a little awkward at first, but with enough practice, your child will be playing better than ever, we promise!

About the Author

Dr. Jeffrey Shirck is an award-winning children’s orthodontist in Powell. He and his team are able to help patients of all ages achieve the beautifully straight smiles they deserve, and if you have a child in band, he guarantees they’ll still be able to play and keep up with their peers once their treatment has started. If it’s time for your child to get braces, you can schedule a FREE consultation at Shirck Orthodontics by clicking here. And, if you call ahead, we can even arrange to place your child’s braces at the same appointment!