Playing a musical instrument like the clarinet requires precise control over the muscles in your mouth and face. This level of dexterity can be challenging when you have orthodontic aligners in your mouth. Invisalign clear aligners are a popular choice for adults and teens who want to straighten their teeth without the look of traditional metal braces. But can you continue playing clarinet while wearing Invisalign?
What is Invisalign?
Before exploring whether Invisalign works with playing clarinet, it helps to understand what Invisalign aligners are.
Invisalign is a type of clear orthodontic aligner made from smooth, durable plastic. The custom-fit aligners are worn over the teeth and are changed out every 1-2 weeks during treatment. Each new set of aligners applies light pressure to gradually shift the teeth into alignment.
Unlike traditional braces, Invisalign aligners are removable. Patients take them out for eating, brushing, and flossing. The aligners are also invisible when worn, giving no outward sign that teeth straightening treatment is underway. This discreet and removable design makes Invisalign a popular choice for teenagers and adults.
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Can You Play Clarinet With Invisalign Aligners In?
The short answer is yes, you can play clarinet while wearing Invisalign aligners. The thin, custom-fit plastic does not significantly impair a clarinetist’s ability to produce sound or perform. However, it does take some adjustment to play clarinet with Invisalign in.
Here are some things clarinet players experience when wearing Invisalign aligners while playing:
- It may feel strange at first having plastic lining your mouth instead of bare teeth. The different sensation against your lips, tongue, and mouth takes adjustment.
- Notes requiring a tight embouchure may sound airy or lack centered tone at first. The aligners can interfere slightly with forming an airtight embouchure seal on the reed and mouthpiece.
- Articulating notes rapidly with the tongue can feel different with plastic aligners in the way. Tonguing notes like repeated staccatos may require more focus and precision when playing with Invisalign in.
- Invisalign aligners can slightly muffle tone quality and projection. The sound may be brighter and more vibrant with the aligners out.
- Saliva buildup inside the mouth may increase while playing clarinet with aligners in. More frequent water breaks may be needed to swallow and clear excess saliva.
While these differences require a brief acclimatization period, most clarinetists report being able to play proficiently with Invisalign aligners in place. With a little practice, the aligners become easy to play with. It is common for clarinetists to leave their aligners in during rehearsals and performances.
Adjusting Embouchure and Air Support
To optimize clarinet playing ability with Invisalign, focus on embouchure control and air support.
- Embouchure – Form a firm seal around the reed and mouthpiece to prevent air leaks. Place the lower lip slightly over the lower teeth to secure the reed within the lined lower lip.
- Air Support – Engage the abdomen to maintain steady, controlled airflow through the clarinet while wearing aligners. Avoid puffing too much air from the cheeks.
- Tonguing – Use precise, crisp tongue strokes on the reed for clear notes and articulation. Avoid tonguing with too heavy or forceful of a contact.
- Practice Long Tones – Sustain notes while breathing deeply to develop consistent, quality tone with the aligners in. Focus on centering each pitch without waiver, spread, or poor intonation.
Practicing fundamentals like embouchure control, air support, tonguing, and long tones will help strengthen playing ability. With regular practice sessions, the mouth and facial muscles adapt to producing sound against the smooth plastic aligners.
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Removing Invisalign For Optimal Play
While Invisalign aligners can be kept in for playing clarinet, many musicians report an easier time playing with optimal tone, articulation, and endurance with the aligners out.
Since Invisalign is removable, the aligners can be taken out prior to clarinet practice or performance. Without the plastic lining the mouth, musicians can form embouchures, articulate notes, and shape tone freely. Saliva control may also be easier without the aligners.
However, leaving aligners out for extended periods can slow down teeth straightening progress. Aligners need to be worn 22+ hours per day to be effective.
Here are some tips for removing Invisalign aligners to play clarinet:
- Take out aligners for clarinet practice and performance only. Wear them the rest of the day.
- Rinse aligners in cool water before putting back in. Avoid hot water as it can warp the plastic.
- Brush and floss after playing before reinserting aligners. This prevents plaque buildup on teeth and aligners.
- Carry a case to safely store aligners when out. Reinsert as soon as possible after playing.
- Avoid leaving aligners out for more than 2 hours per day. This includes practice and performance time.
- Schedule regular Invisalign check-ins every 4-6 weeks to ensure treatment stays on track.
With some coordination, musicians can balance optimal play by removing aligners as needed while still adhering to 22 hours of daily wear time.
Adjusting Clarinet Reeds With Invisalign
The plastic aligners lining the mouth can cause clarinet reeds to behave slightly differently. Clarinetists may need to make adjustments to their reeds and reed rotation schedule to compensate.
Here are some tips for clarinet reeds when playing with Invisalign:
- Use a reed 1⁄2 strength harder than normal. The extra stiffness helps produce tone and articulation against the plastic.
- Rotate reeds more frequently as they may soften more quickly or collect more saliva.
- Store reeds in a dry, sealed case and rotate at least every 2-3 hours of playing time.
- Soak reeds less or for shorter periods if they soften too much while playing with aligners in.
- Consider more frequent reed replacements, especially if playing heavily while in treatment.
- Clean mouthpiece and reed frequently to remove excess saliva buildup.
With some experimentation, clarinetists can determine the ideal reed strength, rotation schedule, and care for optimal play with Invisalign. Adjustments to reed management are temporary during orthodontic treatment.
Maintaining a Clarinet With Invisalign
Playing clarinet with orthodontic aligners requires taking extra care to keep the instrument clean and in good working order.
Here are tips clarinetists should follow while in Invisalign treatment:
- Swab out the clarinet bore frequently with a soft cloth. This removes any excess moisture from playing with more saliva.
- Carefully clean all joints to prevent saliva or particles from compromising the fit.
- Use cork grease sparingly but regularly on joints to prevent sticking from moisture.
- Clean and dry the clarinet thoroughly after each use. Be diligent about removing all moisture.
- Do not let moisture sit inside the clarinet between playing sessions. Take apart and dry joints fully.
- Consider using clarinet swabs pre-treated with bore oil for extra moisture protection.
- Have a professional technician do more frequent clarinet maintenance like padding checks, regulation, and cleaning.
With extra clarinet care and maintenance, musicians can prevent excess moisture from causing issues when playing with Invisalign. A well-maintained clarinet will support continued progress through orthodontic treatment.
What Musicians Say About Performing With Invisalign
Many clarinetists complete Invisalign treatment successfully without it hindering their musical pursuits. Here what some musicians say about playing clarinet with Invisalign aligners:
“I had no issues playing clarinet with Invisalign once I got used to it. I kept my aligners in for most playing and didn’t feel it affected my sound too negatively. With more focused air support, I produced pretty much the same tone.”
“I take my aligners out to perform. I can articulate faster passages more cleanly with them out. For practices I keep them in to get used to playing with them. Just takes more air support and embouchure focus.”
“After a couple weeks adjusting, I could play clarinet fine with Invisalign in. I’m still able to play advanced band pieces with them. For solos I take my aligners out just to have that free oral cavity sensation.”
“Invisalign is way better than braces if you play an instrument! I tried playing clarinet with braces and it was impossible. The plastic aligners are way more comfortable and let me keep practicing and performing.”
“I’m so glad I chose Invisalign over old-fashioned braces. I can easily pop my aligners out before clarinet performances so my playing isn’t affected at all.”
With focus and determination, clarinetists discover they can continue playing at a high level while improving their smile with Invisalign treatment.
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Maintaining Oral Health
Good oral hygiene is especially important for clarinetists undergoing Invisalign treatment. Food particles and plaque can easily get trapped under or around the aligners. Without diligent cleaning, bacteria growth and tooth decay can occur.
Here are oral health habits clarinet players should follow with Invisalign:
- Brush after each time you eat before reinserting aligners. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.
- Clean aligners daily. Use cool water and a specialized aligner cleaning product. Never use hot water.
- Floss at least once per day. Floss under the wires and between teeth to remove plaque.
- Rinse with an alcohol-free mouthwash to kill bacteria around aligners.
- Remove aligners before playing to promote saliva flow. Saliva helps neutralize acids and wash away food particles.
- Schedule regular dental cleanings and exams every 6 months. Inform your dentist you are undergoing Invisalign treatment.
With diligent oral hygiene, clarinetists can avoid tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral health issues during Invisalign treatment. A healthy mouth will make playing clarinet while wearing aligners more comfortable.
Consult With Your Orthodontist
For those considering Invisalign treatment, consult with an experienced Invisalign provider. An orthodontist can confirm if Invisalign is right for your situation. They can also discuss any special considerations for playing clarinet during treatment.
Ask your orthodontist:
- How will Invisalign impact my clarinet playing abilities?
- What adjustments may be needed to play clarinet well with aligners?
- When should I remove aligners before playing and how long is safe?
- Will Invisalign work with my performance schedule and required practice time?
- How can I maintain oral health with the demands of playing clarinet?
With support and guidance from an orthodontist, clarinetists can continue pursuing their instrumental passions while straightening their smile with Invisalign treatment.
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Playing clarinet while wearing Invisalign aligners is very doable with a small adjustment period. While the plastic liners feel different at first, many clarinetists report being able to play proficiently with them in. For optimal tone and articulation, the aligners can be removed before practices and performances as needed. With extra care taken for oral health and instrument maintenance, Invisalign patients can continue skill progression on the clarinet throughout treatment. Invisalign’s removable and invisible design makes it an ideal choice over fixed braces for clarinetists and other serious musicians seeking straighter teeth.