We all know that everyone needs to see a dentist, and everyone's mouth is different. But certain patients use their mouths in different ways than the average dental patient. Musicians who use their mouths to play musical instruments have very specialized needs of which their dentists need to be aware. The slightest change in their mouth—be it the position of their teeth, tongue, or jaw—can significantly impact the way they play their instruments. Special attention must be paid to dental treatment for musicians, according to an article in the September 2007 issue of AGD Impact, the monthly newsmagazine of the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD).
An important part of a musician's life is something called embouchure, which is defined as "the term wind musicians use when they refer to the way their mouths rest against the instrument they play. More precisely, embouchure embodies the use of the lips, tongue, mouth, and facial muscles applied to a mouthpiece to produce good tone, range, and endurance while playing a brass or wind instrument." Eric K. Curtis, DDS, MAGD, lead author of the article, says that embouchure requirements are different for each instrument. "Even the most minimal dental treatment can affect embouchure," he says.
Dr. Curtis advises musicians to make their dentists aware of the way they play their instruments and even to bring the instrument to the dentist's office to show him or her the way the instrument is played. It is also a good idea for a musician to keep an extra mold of his or her mouth so that in the event of an emergency, he or she can show the dentist how the mouth should look.
Certain treatments are particularly important for wind and brass musicians. "Anterior dentistry, which includes bonding and veneers, can significantly change the way a musician moves his or her mouth when playing an instrument," Dr. Curtis says. "That is why it is very important for musicians to discuss treatments with a dentist to determine the best way to remedy the problem without changing the embouchure."
Ways musicians can preserve embouchure:
ē Communicate with your dentist! Tell him or her that you are a musician and explain the way you play your instrument, pointing out your individual embouchure.
ē Bring your instrument to the dentist's office and show him or her how you play your instrument.
ē Keep an extra mold of your mouth and teeth so that in the event of a dental emergency you can show the dentist how your mouth and teeth should look.
Updated: January 2012