Meera – A Patient Story
Gifted young musician Meera was concerned that wearing fixed braces would prevent her from playing the flute. Like many musicians who play wind and brass instruments, she feared playing with a brace would be uncomfortable or painful and would affect the quality of her playing or even stop her from playing altogether.
At the age of 13, Meera had recently been awarded a place at the prestigious Junior Royal Northern College of Music when her dentist referred her for orthodontic treatment.
She had an impacted canine tooth without enough space to move down into position. Unfortunately, long waiting lists for treatment by an NHS orthodontist would have meant a two-year delay and Meera and her parents were keen to start treatment sooner rather than later in order to minimise the effect on her music.
By the time they were introduced to Beatrice of Beyond Orthodontics, they were feeling extremely anxious at the prospect of Meera having to wear braces at such a critical time in her budding musical career. They had been told horror stories about orthodontic treatment derailing the careers of other talented wind and brass musicians and were concerned to hear that surgery to remove teeth might be the only way to create necessary space in Meera’s mouth.
“Meera desperately wanted to play. She was enjoying all the opportunities that lay before her, particularly at the Junior Royal Northern, and didn’t want a brace to disrupt her time there,” says Meera’s mother, Rebecca.
Beatrice quickly put their minds at rest and reassured the family that with the right specialist orthodontic treatment and a sensitive management plan, Meera’s flute playing needn’t be affected. Indeed, beginning treatment as early as possible would make the process less complex, reduce the likelihood Meera would need surgery or extractions, and cut the time she would need to wear braces
“Unfortunately, there is still not enough awareness in the field of music about what specialist orthodontic care can achieve if treatment is delivered carefully, sensitively, and as early as possible,” explains Beatrice. “
That means selecting the right treatment to suit each patient, carefully showing the patient how to look after their braces so that they are as comfortable as possible, and planning treatment around any major events such as exams and concerts.”
Beatrice’s approach was to work closely with Meera and her parents to make sure she knew when Meera had competitions and exams and to avoid planning treatment milestones, such as tightening her brace, at those times.
As a result, Meera felt she was in control of her treatment and could therefore relax in the knowledge that nothing would be done that might disrupt her playing. She felt very little discomfort from her braces throughout the two phases of her treatment, which lasted a total of two years – the time she would have waited for NHS treatment.
And crucially, during her treatment, Meera never stopped practicing, performing or developing as a musician.
“Too many musicians avoid treatment because they are afraid of the impact a brace will have on their playing,” says Rebecca.
“Many older musicians we meet have been inquisitive about Meera’s braces and admit they wish they had had treatment when they were younger.”
Beatrice adds: “Many music teachers still advise their pupils to avoid orthodontic treatment altogether for fear of spoiling a promising musical career, particularly when they are dealing with a remarkable talent, but this is simply not true.
“I believe closer links need to be established between the specialist orthodontic and music professions to put an end to this misconception and give musicians the chance to correct any problems with their teeth without intruding on their playing.”