Topic: Jaw Surgery?

Greetings and salutations! I am a young bassoonist with about three years of experience. Intending to pursue the bassoon for a career, I begged, pleaded and finally persuaded my parents to invest in an instrument of my very own. (I love my Moosmann M24, his name is Gustav Ziegfried.) Although I would like to think that I am reasonably skilled, many times I have been told that my embouchure is not the best.

This may partly be due to the fact that my jaw is very crooked, and I have an overbite. With that in mind, I went to the orthodontist and found out that the problem is more serious than originally thought. The only corrective action turns out to be jaw surgery (not just braces, sigh) that would cause a recuperative period of about six weeks where I couldn't practice- the thought hurts my soul...However, my problem is not quite severe enough to be debilitating, therefore I do have a choice to make.

Would it be worth it to undergo surgery in a year or so to straighten my jaw, which would  improve my health in general, as well as probably improving my embouchure? It is still possible that the procedure will not affect my playing at all, or even make it worse. Or, would it be better to live with a crooked jaw and work on refining my embouchure as it is? (Not to say, of course, that I won't still spend my life chasing the perfect embouchure as do many bassoonists, no matter what I do.)

Thank you in advance for your thoughts,
Lara 

PS- I went to my first IDRS conference a few weeks ago...Glad to at last be part of the community!

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Re: Jaw Surgery?

if your jaw does not cause you pain, I would strongly suggest you leave it alone!  I suffer from TMJ (I'm an oboist), and after reading about various methods of treatment, I would have to be in utmost pain to even consider surgery.  Too many things can go wrong with surgery; your jaw is a very complicated joint!  I went for physical therapy instead and was very happy with the results.  Many people have teeth and "bites" that are far from perfect and adapt quite well to their instruments.  Better to take this route I think than risk causing permanent and irreversible damage.

Darlene

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Re: Jaw Surgery?

Welcome, Lara.

For the moment, let's take the bassoon out of the discussion.

What is better for your health and well-being: surgery, or some other alternative?

What do your doctors recommend for you? What are the projected benefits? What are the risks?

Have you sought a second opinion?

What does your family say about this?

The six week break from practicing is a small deal. Your long term health is of paramount importance. An improved embouchure would be a nice side benefit.

Dr. Dawson or one of the other medical professionals may see your message and reply to it.

Best wishes, whatever you decide to do.

P.S. I also attended IDRS this year. I enjoyed it a lot. Did you go to Dr. Dawson's lecture? (I wasn't able to attend, alas.)

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Re: Jaw Surgery?

Lara, William Safford's remarks are right on the mark about your problem. I'd also suggest asking your proposed surgeon what would happen to your dental occlusion and health over the years if you did not have the corrective surgery.

Incidentally, your problem runs in my family. My daughter (then a French hornist) had a mandibular osteotomy at age 16 to correct her overbite, and her 17-year old son is due to have the procedure (not much refined) later this year. Thus, I've picked up quite a bit of information about the problem. So -- talk to your surgeon, get ALL your questions answered, and ask him/her if they have answers to questions you haven't thought of yet!  Good luck.

Dr. Bill Dawson, bassoonist and teacher
IDRS medical consultant
Past President, Performing Arts Medicine Assoc.
Author of "Fit as a Fiddle: The Musician's Guide to Playing Healthy"

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Re: Jaw Surgery?

Lara, my typing error, and a bad one. These days, the surgical procedure is NOW much refined!

Dr. Bill Dawson, bassoonist and teacher
IDRS medical consultant
Past President, Performing Arts Medicine Assoc.
Author of "Fit as a Fiddle: The Musician's Guide to Playing Healthy"

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Re: Jaw Surgery?

Lara, William Safford's remarks are right on the mark about your problem. I'd also suggest asking your proposed surgeon what would happen to your dental occlusion and health over the years if you did not have the corrective surgery.

Incidentally, your problem runs in my family. My daughter (then a French hornist) had a mandibular osteotomy at age 16 to correct her overbite, and her 17-year old son is due to have the procedure (not much refined) later this year. Thus, I've picked up quite a bit of information about the problem. So -- talk to your surgeon, get ALL your questions answered, and ask him/her if they have answers to questions you haven't thought of yet!  Good luck.

Dr. Bill Dawson, bassoonist and teacher
IDRS medical consultant
Past President, Performing Arts Medicine Assoc.
Author of "Fit as a Fiddle: The Musician's Guide to Playing Healthy"

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