One of the questions we frequently receive from concerned parents at Pavlik Orthodontics is whether or not a child who plays an instrument will still be able to do so after they get braces put on. Good news — the answer is yes! That’s right, getting straighter teeth and a healthier mouth does not mean the end of a budding career as a musician. All it takes is a little bit of time and some minor adjustments to make having braces and playing an instrument work out just fine.

How exactly does having braces impact playing an instrument?

The biggest issue is simple soreness, especially in the days directly following having braces put on for the first time, or following having them tightened. This is because many instruments, especially brass instruments, require your lips to be pressed against the mouthpiece when playing. Metal braces pushed up against a metal mouthpiece can cause a bit of discomfort!

Even woodwinds, which don’t require direct pressure against a mouthpiece but still require your mouth to be positioned in a particular way, can be painful to play with braces over long periods. Over time, however, players learn to make adjustments to airflow and embouchure (that’s the fancy word for mouth position!) and will become perfectly able to play at the same skill level they did before they got braces.

In fact, many musicians discover that, in the long run, they actually improve their playing and technique as a result of having braces. It can help develop a stronger and more consistent airflow, and makes for positive changes to embouchure. So, be sure to thank the orthodontist if playing improves along with your teeth!