Playing musical instruments with Braces


Playing a wind instrument with braces can be very difficult. For many children and teenagers the fear of loosing the ability to play their instrument can be a real barrier to getting braces. In fact some who are very serious about their music may choose not to fix their teeth, to avoid disrupting their music career.

The truth is those fears are not totally unfounded. A survey on high school bands published in the Journal of Clinical Orthodontics, showed that almost all wind instrument players suffered difficulties with conventional braces. Woodwind instrument players were less affected than brass players. In fact brass players were the worst affected group. Most students said they had to re-establish their “embouchures”. This means essentially they had to relearn how to play their instruments. The most common problem was impingement of the lips and cheeks between the mouthpiece and the braces. 

Solutions for playing wind instruments with braces:

There are many remedies that are suggested by various companies. Most commonly the patients will be given wax to apply to the braces, however braces do still pierce through the wax. Another popular choice is a special silicon sleeve or guard, which can cover the braces. However this sleeve does require that teeth are already relatively straight, which can be months into the treatment.


Invisalign Teen is a great treatment option, and we have had great results with Invisalign Teen. It has the advantage that it can be removed for practice and playing music.

What is the right age to take my child to an Orthodontist?


As a specialist orthodontist, we like to see a child when they’re 7-8 years old. This also coincides with the eruption of the permanent front teeth, to asses if there is likely to be any need for treatment. Modern orthodontics takes a holistic approach to the overall wellbeing of a child, in addition to the teeth and jaws, we look at facial growth and development as well as function and breathing. It is a common misconception that orthodontics deals only with straightening crooked teeth – this is only one part of orthodontics!

At an initial assessment, we will evaluate any existing and potential problems. We can explain which issues are likely to resolve by themselves and identify any areas that may require monitoring. More importantly we can let you know, iftreatment is needed and when is the best time for it to be done. Recent techniques, when used in a timely manner, allow us to guide or modulate the growth of the jaws in such a way as to reduce and sometimes eliminate the need for complex future treatment or the need for extractions.

So all children should have early treatment if they need orthodontics?

No!! Timing is the key. Early assessment does not equal early treatment, it mainly allows us to time treatment correctly to be most effective as well as efficient. There are many stories floating around on the internet of 4-5 year long orthodontic treatments. In most cases these protracted courses of treatment can be avoided through well timed effective treatments.

Once a child is seen for an assessment they are usually enrolled in our growth and development follow up programme. Based on their needs they may be recalled if/when treatment would be necessary.

At Impressions Orthodontics, we strongly believe in minimizing the burden of treatment staying clear of “over-treatment.” We like to limit the amount of treatment delivered at an early age to that which delivers a proven long term benefit, and positively impacts future development.

So when is the best time for orthodontic treatment? 

It is a common misconception that orthodontic treatment should only be performed when all the adult teeth have erupted. In many cases this is too late.

Some bite and jaw development issues are best treated at a young age before puberty while baby teeth are still present. Other problems are best addressed during the growth spurt that accompanies puberty when the adult teeth are coming through. After all, the face and mouth are complex structures, and different parts grow and mature at different stages in a child’s development. Correct timing ensures that we benefit from natural growth to help the treatment and prevent certain bite problems from getting worse or negatively impacting the developing teeth and jaws.

Beware of marketing claims!

The internet is flooded with marketing claims by appliances that promise to achieve straight teeth without braces or claim to enhance jaw development. Most of these treatments are delivered by non-specialists and unfortunately many are a form of over-treatment in themselves. These appliances capitalise on the fact that most parents do not know that some of the things that may look weird or crooked in growing children are in fact normal and tend to rectify themselves naturally without any intervention. Many of the success stories on these websites are conditions that would have resolved if left to nature. What we prefer is a tailored approach where a child is assessed individually, and treatment that will deliver a beneficial and proven outcome will only be administered when necessary.

What are some of the issues that require early intervention?

Here are some examples: 

  • Excessive crowding: early treatment can reduce the need for extractions in the future

  • Crossbites (also known as “underbite”)

  • Large overbites

  • Extra teeth

  • Missing teeth

  • Delayed tooth eruption

  • Underdeveloped upper jaw

  • Obstructive sleep apnoea, excessive mouth breathing and snoring

  • Chronic “thumb or finger’ sucking habits

  • Protrusive front teeth at risk to trauma


What are the benefits of an early intervention? 

  • Normalising the growth environment for both the teeth and soft tissue such as the lips and tongue.

  • Preventing abnormal tooth wear on the adult teeth.

  • Reducing or eliminating the need for extractions.

  • Reducing the risk of trauma.

An assessment with a specialist orthodontist that is taken between ages 7 – 8 years old allows us to make a tailored long term plan that ensures that the child has the best possible outcome with the least burden of care.

Should you clean your tongue?


Even if you brush and floss your pearly whites twice or thrice a day, you cannot think of going cavity-free. This is because the bacteria residing on the tongue are not being addressed. Cleaning your tongue is recommended as it is beneficial in fighting bad breath as well as maintaining good dental hygiene. The tongue is a very important structure in your oral cavity and needs to be kept clean from food debris. It is advised to pay maximum attention to cleanliness of your tongue. 

Why is cleaning the tongue important? 

The tongue is a muscular structure that has tiny bumps on it called as papillae and there are grooves between the papillae. These are the potential areas on the tongue where bacteria can build up. Bacteria, dead skin cells and food particles will settle on the tongue. This gets covered by a very fine layer of mucus which covers the entire tongue. The bacterium that gets trapped on the tongue creates bad breath and a whitish discoloration on the tongue. These bacteria can get deposited on to the gums and teeth, thus increasing the chances of plaque and tartar buildup.

Cleaning of the tongue should be made part of the daily regimen for the following reasons:

  • To remove the bacteria
    Tongue cleaning leads to removal of the bacteria and plaque that leads to gum disease. If this is not cleaned adequately, it can cause illness that can spread to other parts of the body. This improves the overall health of an individual.

  • Removal of bad breath
    The germs that causes bad odour settle on the tongue and produces bad breath in individuals with poor tongue hygiene.

  • Improve overall taste sensation
    By clearing the plaque and mucus layer formed on the tongue, the taste sensation improves. This will help you relish the food that you eat. The taste of food will increase with great intensity.


Techniques to clean tongue

Just as you brush and floss your teeth, it is essential to follow a routine for tongue cleaning. It is best to make tongue cleaning a habit. The ideal time to clean the tongue is once in the morning and once in the evening. During the day, if any foul smell is noticed arising from the mouth then rinsing with mouthwash is advised as it kills the bacteria. This helps in maintaining a fresh smelling breath.

The technique used to clean tongue is important. It can be cleaned by brushing back and forth, side to side and by rinsing your mouth with water. It is important to take care not to over brush the tongue as it can cause a break in the skin of the tongue. The tongue scraper can be used to clean the tongue.

Cleaning your tongue is a very important daily routine that should to be followed. Just like brushing and flossing your teeth regularly, tongue cleaning should be cultivated as a habit. This extra level of care which is often overlooked helps you in maintaining good oral hygiene and health.