Dental health for Musicians

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Wind instruments
String instruments
Vocalists

Did you know that people who play musical instruments and sing are prone to certain types of orofacial problems?

Wind instruments
To play these instruments requires complex muscle systems working together. Different mouthpieces on each instrument means that a unique muscular pattern is required for each instrument. Some people have mouths and faces that help make these tasks easier and some people require the use of compensatory movements of the muscles of the head and neck that may create later problems.
Things that may make playing a wind instrument more difficult:

  • Poor lip control, short lips
  • Tongue thrusting habits
  • Crowded or misplaced teeth
  • Severe jaw discrepancy
  • Jaw joint pain
  • Lack of practice

Problems that may occur because you play a wind instrument:

  • Orthodontic problems: The upper front teeth may be pushed out and the lower front teeth may be pushed backwards. It has been suggested that extensive (long periods of time) wind instrument playing is delayed until after the development of the roots of the permanent teeth and bone development is complete. It is also a good idea to play different instruments so pressure is not concentrated on the one area.
  • Soft tissue damage: when orthodontic braces are on teeth, the playing of instruments may create ulceration. Ask your orthodontist or dentist about wax as a solution.
  • Cramp or loss of control of muscles.
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased saliva
  •  

String instruments
When playing the violin and viola the teeth are often clenched and held in an abnormal position.
Problems that may occur:

  • Fracturing of teeth cusps due to pressure
  • Neck pain
  • TMJ disorders: See our information
  • Chronic dermatitis

Vocalists
The sound produced by a vocalist is modified by the mouth. Changes in the mouth can affect the sound produced. Dental treatment should aim to avoid altering the shape or bulk of the teeth. Singers also place their jaws in a range of unnatural positions during singing and may suffer TMJ disorders ( see above). Singers need to re hydrate with water to maintain their mouth.

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Dr Sathie Naidoo BDS (ADC)
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