Do Braces Interfere With Playing Woodwind Instruments?

If you or your child play a woodwind musical instrument and are interested in getting braces, you might be worried that having braces on your teeth could keep you from playing your instrument. This guide will teach you about some of the common difficulties, how to overcome them and what alternatives might benefit you.

Types Of Instruments

Playing an instrument after getting braces is possible, but it requires an adjustment period where you re-learn how to manipulate the shape of your mouth, how hard you press it against your instrument, and adjusting accordingly until the sound the instrument produces is the same as before you had braces.

A survey of students who started playing musical instruments prior to having braces found that it took anywhere from one to three months for them to adjust to playing their instruments. Students who played woodwinds that used reeds and didn't require pressing against the outside of the mouth, took the least amount of time; brass players took the longest, since they had to adjust how much pressure to apply to their mouths to avoid discomfort but still play well.


If your musical instrument presses your lips against your teeth, you can protect the inside of your mouth from discomfort with braces wax.

Braces wax comes in clear strips and you can tear off the amount you need. It's pliable, so you can make it thinner or fold it over on itself for a thicker piece depending on what you need. When part of your mouth is irritated by pressing or rubbing against your braces, you put a piece of wax over the bracket or wire that's causing the friction and it creates a smooth, slick surface that keeps you from getting hurt. Many of the students in the study all agreed that it was useful, so plan on having it available while you practice.

Invisible Braces

If you're particularly worried about not being able to play well with braces, ask your dentist if invisible braces are right for you.

The biggest advantage in invisible braces for musicians is that you can take them off while you practice and perform, so nothing will interfere with your mouth and lips while you're playing. However, it's worth noting that you should wear your invisible braces for as long as you can each day, so take the time to try and learn how to play with the invisible braces on, too. If you have to practice for many hours per day and keep your braces off the entire time, the realignment of your  teeth may slow down.

Ultimately, any instrument can be played with braces, but you should expect to take some time to adjust to them. Your family orthodontist may also have picked up some tips from other patients who play instruments, so make sure to ask for their advice on what will work for you.