Can I play music instruments with braces?

The short answer is Yes! but there are lots to consider when it comes to playing an instrument such as a trumpet after you get braces. From the orthodontic standpoint, so long as the patient is not in pain and discomfort, playing any instrument does not necessarily interfere with the treatment. But as a patient, what can you do to make it more comfortable? here are some tips for you to consider:

1- Practice, practice, practice: The best way to get used to the new situation is to keep practicing and not giving up. First few days when you get your braces are going to be uncomfortable as your teeth, lips and cheeks are getting used to braces. I recommend not playing your instrument until the initial discomfort caused by braces are gone and your lips and cheeks are used to them. This period might take a week or two, so be patient and let the adjustment run its course. Then start your practice and keep reminding yourself that almost every kid these days gets braces, if they have done it, so can I. The more you practice, the easier it will get. As mentioned here from the point of view of a trumpet instructor, notes will be difficult to hit at the beginning, but practice will not only restore your ability to play the instrument, it also can help you correct some of the mistakes you might have had before that you were not aware of.

2- Use Lip/cheek guards: When patients get braces, they will receive some wax or similar products that are used to cover braces when they hurt, creating a cushion that would help them reduce the discomfort of braces. There are many products out there that you can purchase for such purposes. Braceguard or Jet-tone lip protector are products that are designed to help the patient with the discomfort of braces while playing the music instruments. Although these products might help reduce the discomfort, they can be messy, need maintenance and might not work for you as the reviews of such products online indicate. Accordingly, you can obtain these products, but you have to understand that they are not 100% satisfaction guaranteed.

3- Change your mouthpiece: As recommended by many musician blogs, changing the mouthpiece sometimes helps you with reaching the notes the way you like them with braces in place. As an orthodontist, there are no real clinical implications you need to worry about if such a change helps you play your instrument better.

4- Alternatives to conventional braces: There are alternatives to regular metal or ceramic braces that can minimize braces effect on your instrument playing experience. Two alternatives to regular braces are lingual braces and Invisalign (or ClearCorrect). Lingual braces are the type of braces that attach to your teeth from behind. In other words, they don’t come in contact with your lips and cheeks and accordingly, they don’t affect your ability to play your instrument. Invisalign or ClearCorrect are an alternative to regular braces that are essentially a series of removable clear trays you will be wearing for an extended period of time that move your teeth to desired final position, one step at a time. Since you can remove these appliances when you want to, their discomfort becomes minimal. The downsides of these treatments are extra cost of treatment (lingual braces and to a lesser extent clear aligner systems are expensive comparing to regular braces) and also in case of clear aligners, the quality of treatment is not as good as what we can achieve with regular or lingual braces. You also need to consider that the lingual braces do interfere with your tongue, but the good news is that according to several studies, the discomfort and altered function of your tongue will most likely not last more than a week).

Conclusion: 

Practice, practice, practice! People have done it before and so should be you. It will be a learning curve involved and might take you some time, but you will be able to play your instrument after getting braces, if you just don’t give up and keep practicing. Hold your breath the first week or two after you first get your braces and then continue practicing until it gets comfortable. In no time, you will not need your lip protectors and you will not need to spend more money on treatment alternatives. See this change as a second chance to improve your technique and don’t see braces as a hurdle towards your music goals. Finally, let us know when you are going to have a show, it is always rewarding for us to see a patient of ours perform with braces.