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Discussion Starter #1
Any professional players out there who are dentists or orthodontists?
Sorry for lengthy post but it's a long story & technical too.
Background: Picked up tenor again after 25 years off. Am overcoming bad biting habit entrenched from young years with no good teacher, which I’m sure resulted in a terrible sound and bad intonation. Now older/wiser (?) and seen the light/heard the true soul of good tone/intonation/singing quality. Did this by (a) really listening to great players (a#) now feeling/hearing what good breath support and throat/tongue voicing are really all about (b) taking much more mpc in my mouth and learning to get a really good sound with that approach (biting has little effect this way and is thus discouraged) (b#) dropping back to a pretty soft reed (c) very strong mouth musculature from doing Larry Teal mouth exercises every other day for the last 5 months (see photo). Am realizing that with (a#) & (b) & (b#) & (c) above, I can voice complete range of sax (sub-altissimo) and play very well in tune, with no change in embouchure/tension (quite loose, upper teeth off mpc, even - this is working and seems very low-pressure on the embouchure’s underlying structural members of jaws & teeth). So I’m on the right track, right? (And hopefully not on the wrong Trane.) With this setup/approach, the tone quality is very good to my ear in all registers.
The issue at this time: I had crooked teeth as a teenager, and it wouldn’t surprise me if that was in large part due to my terrible biting and a lot of sax/clarinet playing. At about age 21, my folks finally had dough for braces, and I went through early adulthood with them. Then I had retainers (upper & lower) and I actually tried to always use them, even when playing, which was horrific. I couldn’t tongue, my tone was even worse than usual, etc. Once that was done, I sounded better but I know I was still biting. I continued playing a lot and my teeth got all crooked again. So now I have this great knowledge of how to play, and I’m forming good habits, but even with this new proper approach, I feel my bottom front teeth (especially the one that’s practically popping out in part from gum recession - see photo) moving, kind of creaky like the hull of an icebound ship feeling. I made a “retainer” about 4 months ago from a sports mouthguard that you boil & mold to your teeth (see photo). It seemed to greatly reduce this moving of my teeth feeling. But it had a lot of the same effects of playing with retainers years ago: an awful hard plastic sound, intonation effects (made my pitch sharper), plus it seemed to make it harder to break the biting habit, which crept in after playing a while because the biting had little effect on my tooth stability with this “retainer” in place. I’ve been playing without the “retainer” for a week or two and my playing/tone quality are going to a new level. What freedom! What a boss tone! But I feel the teeth moving again.
I hope the photo link thingy works. If not I'll try to redo it.
Question: Do I (1) just let the teeth go? Scott Hamilton’s teeth looked really crooked in a photo - does it even matter? (Note - I don’t want to win any beauty contests and couldn’t even with Hollywood teeth). (2) Keep using the plastic. (3) Go back to an orthodontist and spend a bunch of dough I don’t have. (4) other???
Thanks in advance for any advice you can provide.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
They were fairly thin hard plastic back wehn my braces first came off 30 years ago. But the upper one covered most of the roof of my mouth, and the lower one the entire inside of my lower gums. They were a huge interference to my tongue and made my tone much worse than without them.
The new home made one I have now for my lower teeth only is thicker, but narrow. It also covers my center lower teeth entirely, ouside, inside, and biting edge (lower lip support area).
It is not as much of an impediment to tonguing, nor as bad for my tone, but it does impact pitch and is affecting my playing negatively.
I'm thinking I should wear it after playing, not during.
 

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Use paragraphs much?

Have you ended the biting tendency?
 

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Rod - I am surprised to hear that your retainers cover the roof of your mouth and your lower gums. Mine cover my teeth ONLY and they are thin hard plastic like yours. Your problem is definitely those retainers and would you consider having a new set done that were like mine, just covering your teeth ? I am sure that would be the answer to the problems you are experiencing. The only thing is those little suckers are expensive, $300.00 large for a set.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
What I said is that the retainers I had in my early 20s covered roof of mouth, lower gum (inner).
The homemade deal I am using now is in the picture. It covers only my lower teeth, like six of them (3 on either side). No metal wire. Just molded plastic over those teeth.
But it is enough to raise the pitch and give a hard plastic sound to my tone quality. It doesn't interfere with tonguing or throat much, but is enough detriment that when I remove it, the feel and the sound are so much better that I know practicing with it is stifling me.
Someone said the teeth aren't the problem.
I think there's some truth in that, to wit: Me still wanting to bite is the MAIN problem, but these teeth, and the one in particular, wanting to move even with little or no jaw/lip pressure may remain a problem if that tooth gets all bent out of shape.
I am not biting at all, except it's very hard to escape on high D# thru F and also after I play for more than 10-20 minutes, and also if a reed starts to feel the slightest bit soft (biting seems necessary to get certain notes to speak).
Biting also seems necessary over the entire range if the reed is at all hard, so I have been avoiding reeds that are even slightly too hard.
 

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Rod sorry, my mistake. So still i think the retainers, if probably made and fitted, HAVE NO effect on the sound or intonation. None, nudda, nilsky. I would strongly urge you, to see an orthodontist, and have a set made to the exact mould of your teeth. The only reason I am telling you this is because i use them day in day out, year in year out, and they have NO detrimental effect on my playing. In fact I would not play without them. Kind of like your AMEX, dont leave home without it. You should at the very least strongly consider it.
 
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