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Thread: Playing and Dentures

  1. #1

    Playing and Dentures

    I have not found the topic of dentures and playing out on this forum so I thought I'd add it. I have personally been blessed by a full set of ivories but I know that many people have various forms dental work. Anyone's dental situation could change overnight as a result of an accident, extraction, etc. I was curious if dentures or other dental work may have such and adverse effect on one's playing ability that they'd have to give it up. Just wondering.

  2. #2

    Playing and Dentures

    I recently broke a back molar (a perfectly healthy tooth - my dentist calls me "The Stone Crusher"), and had to have it extracted and replaced with an implantation and crown. In preparation for the post, I mentioned that I played and the oral surgeon made some adjustments that further reduced the risk that the nerve that runs in the jaw would be traumatized. I'm happy to report that the procedure went well and did not affect my playing in any way. And, with my new implant, I can now crush even larger and harder stones

    - Carroll
    Carroll Arbogast
    Piano Technician
    CMA Piano Care

  3. Playing and Dentures

    Luckily I too have a full set of gnashers, but I have taken steps to ensure that any artificial teeth/plate/dentures required will replicate what I already have. Many years ago an acquaintance had a very nasty car accident, necessitating the rebuilding of her jaw; it seriously and permanently affected her brass playing, to the point where a professional career was no longer an option. I discussed this with my dentist, and he has made a mould of my existing dentition, so that if anything did happen, I could have my teeth put back in the same place, or jaw rebuilt with the same lumps and bumps that I am used to. Hope I never have to use it, but I have the location of the mould listed in my emergency contact info in my diary.

    Horry Philpott, a famous trombone player many years ago in Australia, was reputed to have played even better after he had his teeth replaced with dentures, some time in the 60s I believe (before my time!). I do know he played with the dentures out, as I saw him take them out and put them in his coat pocket many a time! He was an excellent brass band player too!


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Midwest USA
    This is an old thread but I'm an old guy. However I'm new on the forum. I just recently retired and have more discretionary time than before. I quit playing completely a little over 2 years ago. I had lost my front teeth and simply could not play with the partial that I had. Fast forward a couple of years and now I have full dentures, uppers and lowers. I cannot play with these in. For one thing they move on me and for another they take up so much room inside my mouth that it has completely changed the flow of air and I have not been able to compensate, so here is what I am attempting to do. I am completely starting over learning to play without any teeth or dentures. So far this is working. In my case a larger mouthpiece seems to be better than one with a smaller cup because I seem to be able to get more of the meat of my chops into the mouthpiece. Pretty much everything has changed except the fingering (slide positions on the trombone). Even tonguing has changed without teeth, My range sucks but is getting better little by little. An F fourth line bass clef was all I could play for the first 3 days. I'm about 3 weeks into this and my range is vastly improved and tone is good. I can't seem to get pedal tones to work for me (suggestions?). The best side effect is that I am playing without any noticeable pressure since I haven't teeth to press against. If there are others out there trying to do what I am I would appreciate any tips or anecdotes that you may have,

  5. #5
    Welcome to the forum!

    I admire your ambition as you work your way through the new oral environment. You seem to by making good progress, so certainly keep that up. Learning to play with no pressure (well, there is always SOME, but we can get to minimal pressure) is great if you can do it. Your endurance should be better because of it because you would not be cutting off some of the circulation to your lips with the rim.

    I have no experience with this, but I'm pretty sure if I were in your boots I would try to re-introduce the dentures after your chops are stronger and your coordination is tuned up. It would surely be handier to not have to remove them before playing, but I understand the restrictions you describe. Still, it might be worth a try later!
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
    Alliance Mouthpiece (DC4)
    YouTube: dwerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    Twitter: davewerden
    Instagram: davewerdeneuphonium

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    West Palm Beach, FL
    Several years ago there was a tuba player in Fred Dart’s comm Band who had dentures. He took them out to play tuba. His tone was really good too. Maybe because his oral cavity was larger with no dentures to get in the way. I suspect it may be easier playing tuba without teeth due to the rim being larger.
    Rick Floyd
    Miraphone 5050 - Warburton Brandon Jones sig mpc
    YEP-641S (recently sold)
    Doug Elliott - 102 rim; I-cup; I-9 shank

    "Always play with a good tone, never louder than lovely, never softer than supported." - author unknown.
    Symphonic Band of the Palm Beaches
    El Cumbanchero (Raphael Hernandez, arr. Naohiro Iwai)
    Greensleeves (arr. Alfred Reed)

  7. Hello I am new to this forum. I've been a professional trombone player for many years. I've had some dental issues and I've had a few teeth extracted. After my last dental visit and extraction, when I want to play after healing up, I noticed that I had air leaking out of the side of my mouth. There was also a little air bubble that would form underneath my cheek above the mouthpiece. I'm concerned that the missing teeth have created such an air gap that air is leaking out one side and also getting trapped between my gum and my cheek forming that little bubble of air. The other problem is that my upper register has been seriously affected. I have generally been a lead player whether it be in a jazz band or orchestra situation so my upper register was always a strong point. Having my upper register go away has been very disturbing. My dentist wants to fit me with dentures and I'm concerned that will make things even worse. I'm investigating getting implants instead which of course is very expensive. I am 64 years old so age could be playing a part in some of this, but I have been looking forward into moving into retirement and continuing doing gigs with my quartet and other groups. Orchestra playing has not been affected at this point as it is not as demanding as when I'm playing my jazz gigs. I hope I can figure this out!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Summerfield, Florida Sturgis, SD (previously)
    Well, I am a senior citizen with teeth that can be described as sort of crummy. My wisdom teeth are long gone, I have had many cavities, and I have had many root canals. Then I have had many crowns put on. And now I am working on my third implant (all three within the last five years). The implants are GREAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Expensive as all get out, but my wife and I have two dental insurance policies (she on mine, and me on hers), so we get most of that covered ($3,000+ per implant). I don't think I would ever settle or go for full dentures at the risk of ruining what playing years I have remaining. Plus I don't think I would like having to pull out my dentures (in front of who knows who) to play my horn. I can't imagine that it would work very well. I plan to keep playing till I am put in the ground. Implants to me, are absolutely the way to go for people who have generally crummy teeth with many cavities, crowns, root canals over the years. If I were to do it all over and implants were as well known as they are now, I might opt to get a full set of implants. It is expensive as heck, but you have to ask yourself, isn't it worth it if you really, really want to keep playing all of your life?
    John Morgan
    The U.S. Army Band (Pershing's Own) 1971-1976
    Adams E3 Custom Series Euphonium, Wessex EP-100 Dolce Euphonium, 1956 B&H Imperial Euphonium
    Adams TB1 Tenor Trombone, Yamaha YBL-822G Bass Trombone
    Kingdom of the Sun (KOS) Concert Band, Ocala, FL (Euphonium)
    KOS Brass Quintet (Trombone, Euphonium)

  9. I had the unfortunate situation where I lost all my teeth. I had to put my horns down for a few years as the amount of tooth and bone fragments I had in my gums caused way too much pain. After the fragments worked their way out and I was able to acquire dentures that actually fit my gums, I was able to begin playing. The first horn I attempted was my 1917 Conn Baritone. Sadly, I ended up finding it was quite painful. My brother had a Yamaha 3/4 tuba laying around, and was kind enough to let me borrow it. Thankfully, I could play it, teeth in no less!

    4 years since I first held that 3/4 tuba, I now play a '60's Besson 785 Recording Tuba with the Clay County Community Band, as well as trombone with a Swing Band.

    I think the success with playing with dentures is determined by the individual, their circumstances and their dedication to getting back to the instrument(s) they love to play. There is a learning curve. I had to relearn my embouchure and tonging to account for the dentures. Breathing can become a little more important as the airway may be partially obstructed by the teeth, as is the case with mine. You also have to work to toughen up your gums before you go 'all out' with playing.

    Another potential obstacle is the method the dentures are held in place. In my case, I use denture cream -- AKA tooth glue -- to hold my teeth in place. I had to learn the best time of the day to apply the tooth glue for optimal performance, as well as minimize the amount blown into the instrument. Also of concern is when AND what you eat before a performance. Pro-tip: sub sandwiches before a performance is NOT a good idea! You have to choose something that will not pull your dentures off the glue, will not soften the glue and will not leave a ton of crumbs in the mouth between the dentures and the gums. Also a great idea to rinse your mouth several times to ensure you've got most everything out.

    What about range? I am happy to say that I have on a 3 valve tuba, baritone and tenor trombone a 2 octave range, and 3 on my Conn 71H bass trombone. Pedal notes are [I]easy[I], but I did have to work a little harder to get the upper range back. At this time, I'm working on getting past that upper F reliably and clearly. I'm not sure if it is because of my embouchure, the added mass at the front gums, or that the teeth in my dentures restrict the airflow. In all honesty, I can work with what I have been able to accomplish, and am grateful to be able to play/perform again.

    So to those who are thinking they won't be able to play if you loose your teeth I give you this. Let your mouth heal before you try playing again. Don't push or hurt yourself. Once your gums are fully healed, specifically you no longer experience bleeding, are free from slivers, etc, work yourself back into the instrument. Start with simple breathing exercises to get used to the flow of air through your dentures. Next, start buzzing with the mouthpiece only, no horn. Get accustomed to the feel of it, and don't be surprised if it feels a little uncomfortable at first. If you start bleeding or feel Pain, stop and give a try a few weeks later. Your gums will likely be very sensitive to the new sensation. This will go away with time. Once you feel comfortable with buzzing, grab your horn of choice and do long tones. In my case, I stayed between lower Bb and F initially to work on my tone (your tongue is not in the same place it was once you put dentures in!) and build my embouchure. Again, stop if you feel pain or begin bleeding. Once you feel comfortable with long tones, begin working through 1 octave scales using whole, quarter and eighth notes to work on your tonging and tone.

    The process described took me about two months by the time I picked up a tuba, but was almost 7-8 years after my teeth were removed. Admittedly, my gums were a wreck for years, nor did I have a tuba to work with until a few years ago, so you may not have to wait as long. Each person's circumstance will likely be different.

    I hope my experience helps those who find themselves thinking they will have to give up playing, and maybe give them some advice as they get back to playing.

  10. #10
    EXCELLENT POST! Thank you!


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