north bay trumpet
Solutions for Kids (and
Adults) with braces
One common difficulty among
young (and sometimes older) trumpet (and brass) players is the
need for corrective orthodonture that requires wearing braces
I think two unique factors make me
unique in my ability to help trumpet (or any brass) player who
- First, I had braces myself (twice) during my
history as a trumpet player (in 5th grade and again in 7th and 8th
- Second, I have had a HUGE number of students
(over the past 31 years I have been teaching) who have had braces and
continued to play during that time.
Can I continue to play trumpet
while I have braces?
- Yes, in my experience nearly all players have
been able to continue to play while they have braces on their teeth.
- Personally, I continued to play in band class,
concerts, lessons and practice a reasonable amount during that time
with a minimum of difficulty.
What are my options as far as
- This would be limited to the particular
orthodontist you have.
- But, several different types of braces are
available ("nobbies", "train tracks", invisiline, etc).
- A consultation and perhaps some searching may
lead you to some alternate solutions that may not be initially apparent.
What can I do about the
discomfort that comes with having braces and playing trumpet (or
any brass instrument)?
- First, use less pressure on your embouchure.
- This is not a simple or immediate solution,
but working closely with your teacher in this direction is a key factor.
- Second, the use of brace
protectors, Morgan Bumpers, dental wax, or cigarette papers (folded into 1/4 sheet
and moistened with saliva) each have their benfits and drawbacks.
- Ice packs or a bag of frozen peas and an
asprin can help.
- Alternating hot and cold packs wouldn't hurt
What should I do if I get a cut
on the underside of my lip?
- First, stop playing!
- By continuing, you will only make things worse.
- There are some anti-biotic creams and
mouthwashes that can facilitate healing of injuries inside the mouth.
- Personally, I would try simple solutions: mild
salt water rinses, hydrogen peroxide (be sure to spit both out after
TIC (topical injury cream) is helpful for
EXTERNAL swelling (do NOT use it inside your mouth).
What about mouthpiece changes?
- Generally, this is not necessary.
- However, too narrow a mouthpiece certainly
- Some students seems to fine a bit of relief in
using a mouthpiece with a slightly wider rim diameter than they played
on prior to the time when they had braces.
- Greg Black actually produces a mouthpiece (with a slightly
wider, more cushioned rim) designed for students who specifically have
- Although it is a bit expensive ($85), when
weighed against the discomfort factor, the cost seems worth it.
Should I stop playing trumpet?
- Only you can answer this question for yourself.
- I would encourage anyone in this situation to
give it some time, while continuing to apply some of the solutions
suggested here, before making a decision.
- Some band directors suggest temporarily
switching to a low brass instrument (baritone, etc.).
- I suppose this is one possibility.
- But, I always question whether the band
director has the student's best-interest in mind or whether they are
simply trying to fill out the brass section of their band.
- Be sure the decision is yours.
What about getting my braces
- I would like to encourage anyone who has
recently had their braces off to work closely with a private teacher.
- The transition back to smooth teeth actually
seems to be more difficult than the other direction.
- I would suggest making the transition slowly.
- It is not a good idea to try to pick up
exactly where you left off.
- I would suggest starting with simple,
undemanding material and perhaps practicing with the mouthpiece.
- In my own case, I tried to make the transition
- I was too impatient to go slowly and wound up
with an embouchure issue that was an impediment for the following 5-6
years (until I sought some porper guidance to correct the issue).
- At any rate, this can be avoided by having
someone who is qualified in this area (a brass or trumpet specialist
with some experience in this area) guide your rehabilitation.