Does Cosmetic Dentistry Ruin Your Embouchure?

Posted on: 17 July 2015

When it comes to playing a wind instrument, you have to hone various skills: your breathing, posture, rhythm, and embouchure. Both amateurs and professionals need to be cautious about what dental procedures they have done. Even minor alterations affect your embouchure. At the same time, however, if you aren't comfortable with the way your teeth look or you damage them in an accident, you should address cosmetic dentistry options. So how do you get the dental treatment you need without ruining your career? Some suggestions are found below.

Don't: Make Major Changes All at Once

You shouldn't get all your cosmetic dentistry work done at once. As a musician, you need to keep your career in mind and realize that a procedure such as dental bonding or porcelain veneers will have a negative impact on your playing ability. Both of these procedures add thickness to your teeth. Although it's slight, this little adjustment changes the way your lips sit over your teeth and alters the way your mouthpiece fits with your embouchure.

Instead of an oral overhaul, make gradual changes to your teeth. Give your embouchure time to adjust to one change before starting in on the next. For example, if you have long and sharp teeth, start by rounding them off a little, instead of having them ground down. If you have gaps or chips, practice with a stint or mouth guard that is molded to feel like the procedure has already been done. If you can't adjust to the change with a mold, look for a different solution than fillings. With slight adjustments to fix your teeth, you might even notice a positive improvement in your embouchure – maybe you aren't wearing away your reeds as quickly or you aren't as pinched on the high notes.

Don't: Choose Permanent Over Temporary

You want lifelong changes to the way your teeth look, but as a musician you shouldn't go the permanent route. Filling, reshaping, and capping are all irreversible procedures. You don't want to spend your money for a stage-dazzling smile only to find that your career is jeopardized because of it. Some temporary options are to get removable crowns or bridges. You can also talk to your dentist about removable veneers. Each of these options provide you with the appearance you long for, without altering your embouchure. Simply take the false teeth out to practice and perform, and replace them for social gatherings, photos, etc.

Do: Consider Teeth Whitening

If you are interested in porcelain veneers mainly because they offer a permanent whitening solution, you don't have to give up your dream of flashing pearly whites on stage. Instead of veneers, however, consider another form of teeth whitening. Trays, strips, and laser whitening are all recommended by dentists and offer long-term solutions for stained teeth. Keep in mind that with some teeth whitening products, tooth sensitivity can increase. This is usually temporary and eases once you have finished whitening. However, if you are prone to sensitive teeth, try to get your whitening sessions done in a slow season when you don't have to play your instrument as frequently.

Do: Be Prepared for an Emergency

The last thing to make sure you do to preserve your embouchure is to be prepared for oral emergencies. You never know when an unlucky moment will leave you with a chipped or missing tooth. Dentists recommend that professional musicians keep a current mold of their teeth so that, in the event of an emergency, a repair can be made quickly and accurately without upsetting your embouchure. Your dentist should make this mold annually, as well as recording x-rays and manual measurements for reference.

As a wind player, you should be careful of what cosmetic procedures you have done on your teeth. While intensive work is discouraged, you are still a candidate for many procedures that result in beautiful, white teeth. Remember that your embouchure is at stake whenever you have alterations done. Talk to your dentist about what procedures are right for you and will give you your desired results.