False Tooth

I saw your article concerning double lip embouchure and wondered whether it could help me, or whether you could offer me alternative advice. 

I have been playing clarinet as an amateur since I was 9. Iplay in a local concert band. ” years ago I lost my front tooth and thought that I wouldn’t be able to play with a false tooth and that my playing days were over. I found an implant specialist who said that a tooth implant would enable me to continue playing. I’ve had the implant done twice now and it seems I have an allergic reaction to it. The specialist has put a temporary tooth in and wants to have one more try in 12 months time after my mouth has had chance to heal from all the surgery.

It is now 2 years since I’ve played. I read somewhere about a double embouchure once but couldn’t find the article when I looked again. I then found your very interesting article on the internet. Do you think that if I tried this method of playing, it would relieve the pressure on the top teeth so that I could play with a tempoary /false tooth? There is alot of pressure there, particularly when playing high notes. Also, would I be any better off with an Eflat clarinet? I’ve never played one but wondered whether less pressure would be needed.

I really hope that you’ll get back to me with any information you have. I’ve asked a couple of experts but so far have no replies.

Hi Carl,

And hi UK, an always fond memory for me since playing there at the summer meeting of CASS dome years ago. I developed a huge respect for the English school of clarinet-playing and realized that some of the best players are there.

I am answering this quickly because it is so familiar and therefore exciting to me. Your story begins like my story: I lost a front tooth when I was about thirteen and never knew if I could ever play the clarinet and didn’t start until about two years later. They did not have implants at the time, nor root canals, either of which would have benefitted me greatly, so I ended up, at least at the beginning of the saga with a bridge, (a piece of gold where the tooth was, expensively attached to the rest of my teeth, hopefully in an attractive manner)

Well, that was when I was thirteen. I began to study when I was 15, with an absolute frenzy of love and obsessive love, practised all the time, was very and quickly successful, in band, where I became first chair, and had many wonderful memories of that time(s). It never held me back.

Until I became professional, then of course,I began to worry about it all of the time, thinking about movement of the bridge and sundry other things based around the truth: I had not received a great genetic inheritance on that score.

Well I had several more bridges, more less successful, when they were well placed and engineered, and some were not.

Much later, due to the loss or weakening of several more teeth in that frontal areal, my dentist in Colorado,(a veritable wonder of a craftsman) designed a bridge actualy going from one cuspid(vampire teeth) to the other and encompassing all the rest, teeth, shards, root canals, failed ones, what haveyou, six teeth in all, strongly anchored on these strong eyeteeth.

My success became very encouraging to me and therefore to you I hope. I strongly suggest that you attempt to get a bridge and forget about the implant, especially since you are allergic to it. Many players play successfully with these, and some great players even play with false teeth.

The first trumpeter of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, one of the greatest and lovely sounds of all time, had an auto accident, lost all his natural teeth; the Orchestra paid to have all replaced with false teeth and he is there still today.

Now, perhaps that helps, perhaps not. Double-lip is a great answer because you can play with that embouchure without the tooth; it will just be lengthy to get used to it, and since I do not know your particulars, I cannot with great assurance. However I urge you to continue playing, no more implants, they don’t work with you, and double-lip which is after all, the best therapeutic for problems, and really the most natural embouchure there is for this wonderful clarinet of ours.

good luck, and most sincere wishes


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