Braces don't stop children from playing musical instruments; however, they do change the way they are able to play them, especially when their braces have just been fitted. Parents may want to take some time to help their kids adapt to the changes in their mouths, so they can continue to enjoy playing during orthodontic treatment.
How Braces Affect Playing
Before they have braces fitted, musicians get used to using their mouth in a certain way to make music. The positioning of braces on the teeth and behind the lips adds an extra element to the mix, and children will have to get used to how the brace affects their mouth action.
Even accomplished musicians may find that they can't play that well immediately after a brace fitting. Some may also find that playing their instrument hurts as the brace rubs against their lips. Although this may be dispiriting and may make children feel like they should give up playing, there are ways to fix the problem.
Talk to Your Dentist
It's a good idea to tell your dentist or orthodontist during the brace fitting process that your child plays a musical instrument. You can then get advice on the best ways to manage continued musical activity. For example, you may be advised to use special orthodontic waxes or a brace guard. These products may work as a cushion that helps protect the insides of the mouth, adding a level of protection against braces rubbing lips or cheeks when playing an instrument.
Talk to Your Music Teacher
If your child has music lessons, it's worth asking your music teacher for advice. You're unlikely to be the first parent of a child with braces that the teacher has come across; your teacher may have some tips and tricks that help adapt playing styles to braces.
According to the National Association of Music Parents, musicians with braces typically have to allow some time to adjust their playing styles to compensate for the changes in their mouths. Although this may take some time, especially if children play brass instruments, it can actually improve their techniques. For example, braces prevent musicians from relying on putting pressure on the mouthpiece to make notes, encouraging them to use better techniques such as breath support.
- Your child is unlikely to want to use their mouth to play an instrument immediately after having braces fitted. They may be a little sore, needing a few days to get used to the device. Don't pressure them to play until they feel ready.
- Talk to your child about how the braces may affect their playing. If they know that they may not be able to play to their current standard for a while, they may be more accepting. If they understand that practice will help, they may be more willing to continue playing.
- If your child has a music exam or big concert coming up in the near future, you may want to talk to your dentist about delaying the brace fitting until after the event. Or, leave a long enough gap for your child to get used to playing with braces.