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I've already lost two, others are root canaled, Now my upper front teeth are going, and I'm not sure how I'm going to play without them. Can't afford implants that's for sure. Any advice?
 

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wow, I am very sorry for you.

Do get advice from a professional dentist, one with experience with saxophone players. What works for one type of person may not work for another.

Anyway.

Teeth's problems are not unknown among great players (and we know of those because they are famous but I am sure that there lesser players with as many problems as the greats).


Long ago we had a member here Ron Irving who developed an invention to support the embouchure with a sort of mask. His invention was supposed to be aiding beginners towards playing.

He sent me the prototype for an opinion and I had a serious look at it. I thought that it looked too “ medical “ and that in the end I would really be more suitable to deal with problems such as yours rather than offer help to beginners.

His website no longer exists.

He had also developed a very unusual technique to play flute shown here. Perhaps you can get in touch with him on youtube.


Someone else , Joe Vassallo, developed a very ugly piece of plastic that is supposed to support an embouchure by using a pressure plate glued to the mouthpiece (which takes the role of the missing teeth ) and supported by the surrounding mouth .

See the picture here

View attachment 219926

Mr Joe Vassallo sells this for $200 butI think it would be possible to replicate and improve its function by forming a piece of sugru leaving a more or less opening in the middle to press on the entire outside of the mouth and squeeze the top and bottom when pressed against the mouth’s muscle.
 

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to try the above suggested approach to a DIY prosthesis , I’d use a piece of sugru modelled around the mouthpiece with enough space allowing for the reed to be free but somewhat compressed, then push against it, a bit like in the picture of the Vassallo contraption. It could be a start for a working model.

I would make it into an oval shape, wider than higher. Another possibility is to shape some thickish neoprene 8mm and to cut a slit when to carefully insert the mouthpiece-reed combination.

This would need a ribbon or an elastic or something of that nature to hold it as a mouth-mask . This was the modification that, at the time, I discussed with Ron Irving.

He was truly dedicated to this cause. Lots of people dismissed his effort and ridiculed him. Yet this invention was certainly hoping to improve the quality of life for those who have the misfortune to need this implement. It will probably never become a money maker but it may make some people happier.

I have always struggled on the saxophone. Don't have the "sax face"; square jaw, wide mouth and/or large lips, large face in general. My difficulties compelled me to look at alternative embouchures, if thre is such a thing.

Perhaps nine months ago, I discovered the "reed above embouchure" utilized by many of the preeminent clarinet players in Italy and Spain (I believe) in the 19th century. The mouthpiece is upside down with this method, and the upper lip is tucked between the reed and upper teeth. I quickly became very enthusiastic about applying this concept to the saxophone. It seemed that it might just fit my face better. I tried it on my alto. Ouch! I'm definitely a biter. It was at this moment that I thought, if I had a synthetic lip up there, with my real lip outside of the upper teeth and resting on the reed, the muscles of my face would be in a more efficient, less awkward position, and playing would be much easier.

I cut a small square from a bicycle tire innertube approximating the amount of lip that touches the reed ( a little wider than the reed itself, and a little less than one-half inch long). It didn't work, of course, as the innertube is nothing close in denisty, mass etc. to the human lip. I could say that I was undeterred, but the truth is, my idea went dormant then.

Months later, I happened upon a discussion on this forum of the double lip embouchure, and I quickly became enthused about attempting this myself. Ouch! I'm definitely a biter! And of course, my idea rose from its dormant state and surfaced once more. Searching the house for a synthetic lip, I happened upon a bag of dried apricots. I cut one in half. I cut the corner from a sandwich bag, and wrapped the apricot half in it. I clamped the synthetic lip-fruit between my teeth and the reed and my embouchure felt pretty comfortable and relaxed. I blew and, remarkably, got a decent tone and response in all registers. This lasted for about thirty seconds, until the apricot squished.

Encouraged, I began thinking along the lines of a laytex rubber type material once again. Or even better, something that could simulate the liquid-wrapped in-tissue composition of a human lip. A gel shoe inner sole popped into mind...

SPECIFICATIONS:
I have been pleased so far with results from my Dr. Scholl's gel inner sole/synthetic lip. Cut a piece about the width of a reed and a little less than one-half inch long from the heel section of the gel innersole. This is the part that has the corrugated ridges in it. With a small amount of super glue, affix the synthetic lip to your synthetic reed (as soaking is required, I have not attempted this experiment with cane). The synthetic lip goes on the vamp side of the reed, about five-sixteenths of an inch from the tip. Before gluing the synthetic lip to the reed, it is best to test for the ideal location and the viability of the particular lip you have created by simply clamping the synth lip in place with your teeth and playing.

I make no representations regarding the relative safety or lack thereof in having a super-glued piece of gel innersole in the oral cavity for extended periods of time.

The synthetic lip embouchure looks similar to that favored by many fine jazz sax players, with the lower lip "out" beyond the teeth, supporting the reed. In the case of the synthetic lip embouchure, there is no lower lip between the reed and teeth whatsoever. The teeth rest directly on the synthetic lip.

I have found this bit of technology/innovation to be very promising, although I have just begun this journey. I hope to try a product by Smooth-on called Dragon Skin, which will more closely approximate the physical characteristics of the human lip. I encourage anyone who is interested/curious to experiment with this concept, and share your discoveries and results here on the forum.

Ron Irving
I have had significant improvement using a product by Smooth-on called Ecoflex 0030. I have been cutting slices from samples of cured product that I requested and received in short order from the company (they seem to have their tech support and customer service in great working order). I also ordered a sample pack of dragon skin and Ecoflex 0030 from them. I cast the dragon skin into sheets, and predictably, the rubber was full of air bubbles that render the material useless. So I requested and received more samples for my experimentation. Casting your own material requires a de-gassing vacume machine, running from the hundreds to thousands of dollars, so that's not an option for now. Mold makers charge more than I can comfortably afford right now, too.

Interestingly, the disc-shaped samples Smooth-on provided have a thicker ridge running around the outside perimiter, and cutting a synthetic lip which incorporates this part of the sample material provides a more effective shape. I hope to post photos at some point...

Ron
I have tabled the synthetic lip project for now. My hopes for improved control with this device have not materialized. More specifically, I have found the synthetic lip to aid in more controlled attacks; however, there seems to be more muscle fatigue with the synthetic lip, which cancels out the initial benefit. Consistency of tone quality and projection have also been an issue. I havn't completely abandoned the concept, but it's time to get back to basics.

It has been fascinating to see how the reed and mouthpiece respond to a synthetic lip - lots of surprises (many of them good) along the way. For example, my embouchure difficulties/playing position etc. have always caused a stuffiness in the response of the reed/mouthpiece. With the proper synthetic lip configuration, the response has been quite open and free blowing. This was initially very encouraging to me. But the overall performance of the synthetic lip in conjunction with my particular embouchure has not justified my continuing with this experiment.

It's been a great learning experience...

Ron

It would be very interesting and informative to be able to measure the amount of pressure saxophone players exert on the mouthpiece with their lower lip/jaw. A survery/study of a wide cross section of players, from amateur to professional would provide the basis of a great doctoral thesis, considering how contentious this particular bit of pedagogical theory is.

Perhaps a scientific instrument could be devised/fabricated in the shape of a saxophone mouthpiece, that would allow players to simulate their embouchure to a degree sufficient to capture a reasonably accurate measurement.

Ron
 

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I can't give you an answer to your question, but just wanted to say I'm sorry to hear of this, and I hope things turn out for the best.
 

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My God....everyone please take care of your teeth if you expect to keep playing.
 

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I worked with a guy who had a bridge for his front upper teeth - I guess it's like a partial denture or something like that. He was able to deal with it fine, he had a good tone and solid intonation - nice sound in the old big band style :) His mouthpiece was easy to play (an original Brilhart Level-Air), so that might have had something to do with his abilities. You might have to use a different mouthpiece and/or a softer reed to compensate.

Really sorry to hear about this, though - my wife is currently going through this kind of thing, she has 4 implants now and a 5th on the way (currently a hole in her gum...) There are probably more in her future. It's painful, frustrating and takes a long time. Best of luck to you!
 

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No problem playing with an upper denture if the denture is made well. Dozens of 'old timers' in the 50's & 60's had a denture and played 5-6 times a week. The human spirit can overcome a lot , people with prosthetic legs run marathons and cross deserts. The 'Joe Allard Embouchure' makes many things possible -playing with denture included-you may surprise yourself.
 

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@milandro. Thanks for providing that thorough response.I’m sure it will be beneficial for those that may need the help!
 

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Implants?
 

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Google is your friend, at least as far as your dental problems are concerned. I searched for pro bono dentists near me and found a lot of information. I'm sure if you're willing to put in the effort you can find someone to help you with your problems. Start here: https://www.yourdentistryguide.com/news/bono-dental-care/ Dental health is critical to good physical health. If you have bad teeth it can make your life miserable. It can actually shorten your life. https://www.dentalwellness4u.com/dentaldisease/longevity.html I encourage you to seek out some help ASAP. Good luck.
 

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I bought a King 20 alto that a gentleman from Cheyenne Wy, had played. It came with a box of miscellany couple of the Mouthpieces had a small round appendage molded and screwed to the top of the MPs. The lady told me that it was so he could play with an upper full plate. She said he'd played the night before his ticker gave out. Said his Dentist made them up for him. He played the dinner hour at a Truckstop Restaurent there.

The Super 20 has a silver neck and pearls everywhere. Plays well too,,, 1953 manufacture.

I'm taking care of what's left of my teeth. Lots of crowns now.
 

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About 2 months ago a crown fell off my upper front tooth and then I had to get a crown on the front tooth next it. Try to say saxophone with no upper front teeth. Not good! They put temps in but after playing tenor, clarinet and alto for a week the temps fell out. They put permanent ones in and it was sore for about a week but I could play. I was in two big bands so I was either practicing or playing everyday. It's ok now and I don't have any pain. Actually the crowns are not as sharp as my old teeth so I don't go though as many mouthpiece protectors as I did before.
 

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I've been playing with false uppers and nearly full lower dentures form some years. The main problem to overcome is the self-doubt that playing will never be the same again. It will. As previously stated false teeth were common until the quite recent advances in implants and other prosthetic dental work.
 

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You won't have to quit. I was once talking to a sax player after I'd seen him play a full gig, and I was telling him I'd just broken half my front tooth off and wasn't sure how I'd manage. He just took all his front teeth out and waved them about!
 

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I lost all mine, partly due to a bout with chemotherapy some years ago. I've since gotten mini-implants which are WAY cheaper than regular implants. They are smaller, less expensive, and allow a sort of "snap on" denture. It's no picnic, really, but it beats the heck out of just straight dentures. There's a chain called "Affordable Denture." Some of the outlets have terrible reviews, but the local one here in Madison, WI does OK. You really do have to spring for the very best dentures they have, especially if you want them to guarantee their work. It cost me about $3500 total to get 4 upper and 4 lower implants, with custom dentures to fit. It sure ain't like playing before dentures, but it's way better than straight dentures. I've known plenty of old-timers who just found a way to manage with plain old dentures, though. As with so many things, it just takes getting used to. I have very sensitive gums, so it's been murder getting used to the "pressure" (pain) from eating or playing.
Another thing that helped me was to get a Yamaha WX11 wind synth, with a DAW on a computer and the KORG soft synth sounds from Patchman Music. They are great sounds, the feel is remarkably similar to an actual sax, the fingerings are nearly identical, and it takes almost ZERO lip pressure to operate. It is missing a lot of the physical "feel" of an acoustic sax, but unless you're a virtuoso keyboardist or guitarist, it allows you to use your best chops to make actual music. I wish you well!
 

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I lost an upper front tooth a few years, due to some other issues, I did not pick up a horn for almost twenty years. I have an implant, and I have no feeling in that tooth. It hasn't bothered me much. I do find that a mouthpiece pad is a must. My grandfather worked for years and he would take two sets of teeth to a gig. One for eating and one for playing.On one gig, a pad fell out and he tried the old lighter trick to get it to stick, the that didn't work, he grabbed his DentuGrip, and glued the pad.
 

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I hope this helps lead you to inexpensive options. "Poly Beads" and other temporary removable options are available. Search "Poly beads for teeth" on Youtube and see various teeth being replaced at home for around 12 dollars. Don't let the price fool you, watch the videos.
InstaMorph Available on Amazon.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W72CVBqArjI

This option helped a family member.
Imako Plastic Teeth.

































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