How to play an instrument with braces

Adolescence is an amazing time to explore your musical and artistic side. Since many teens are committed to rehearsals, lessons, and practice, it’s natural to have concerns about playing your chosen instrument with braces.

The truth is, with a little bit of adjustment, any musician can learn how to play an instrument with braces! Learn more about playing woodwind and brass instruments with braces, and how we can help you stick to your musical goals while getting orthodontic treatment.


Use orthodontic wax to protect your lips

Many teens are frustrated to find that their brackets jut into the inside of their cheeks or lips while playing their chosen instrument. An easy way to combat this is to apply orthodontic wax to each bracket, which creates less friction between the teeth and the inside of the mouth. This can be very helpful in reducing braces irritation.

Find your embouchure with braces

One of the biggest challenges for braces-wearing instrumentalists is mastering a new embouchure. The embouchure is a musical term that refers to the positioning of the mouth when playing a brass or woodwind instrument. Many music teachers advise new braces wearers to use an embouchure that uses less pressure than usual, although this technique will vary depending on the instrument you play.

How to play trumpet, trombone, or other brass instruments with braces

Playing the trumpet or other brass instruments with braces can be challenging, as it requires direct contact with the mouthpiece. If you push too hard, it can cause soreness on the inside of the mouth. Many trumpeters will adjust their embouchure to have a flexible “buzz” in the front of the lips, alleviating the pressure against their braces.

How to play flute with braces

Out of all the wind instruments, it’s trickier to adjust the flute embouchure. The flute is played with only the lower lip touching the mouthpiece, blowing air into the open hole. Braces may make flutists feel as if they have a new mouth. However, with a bit of practice, most flutists can get the hang of playing the flute with braces. Instead of applying pressure to the lower lip, flutists should ease off the mouthpiece and rely on increased breath support.

How to play a woodwind instrument with braces

Musicians who play woodwinds like saxophone, oboe, and reed instruments tend to have an easier time adjusting to braces treatment. They depend more heavily on indirect contact and do not have to press their lips on a mouthpiece, so the embouchure is not as affected. However, braces may increase saliva production, which means woodwind players will have to clean their instruments more frequently.

Practice makes perfect

While it may be a bit of an adjustment to playing an instrument with braces, it just requires some practice to get the hang of it! Here are some practice tips for playing your instrument during braces treatment:

  • Ask your teachers for help! Many teens go through orthodontic treatment at some point, so your teacher likely has tips on how to play an instrument with braces.
  • While practicing frequently is important, make sure to do so in 10-15 minute intervals and take regular breaks. This can help ease braces irritation and help you mentally recenter if you’re having difficulty.
  • Have plenty of water on hand, as you may develop a dry mouth while practicing.
  • Since your bite is constantly changing during your braces treatment, it’s important to practice frequently and to adjust your embouchure accordingly.

Braces alternatives

If you’re concerned about your musicianship being affected by orthodontic treatment, you may be eligible for clear aligners! Clear aligners are virtually invisible, giving you the perks of a healthy smile without the hassle. Since clear aligners seamlessly fit onto the teeth, you may not even have to adjust your embouchure very much! Clear aligners may also be removed while playing — just make sure that you store them in their case and put them in as soon as you’re finished playing.

Discuss playing an instrument with braces with Asheville’s best orthodontist

Teenagers are juggling many commitments, and musicians with braces face different challenges. If you’re uncertain about how orthodontic treatment will change the way you play an instrument, we’re here to discuss these concerns and give you advice.

At Black Orthodontics, we care about crafting happier and healthier smiles, but we also want orthodontic treatment to fit your lifestyle! We will listen to you and find the right solution for your smile needs. Schedule a free smile assessment today!

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