When your face is at rest do your teeth touch or not? Trying to find a universal answer.

October 16, 2020, 11:08 PM ·

Replies (16)

October 17, 2020, 12:26 AM · That’s a weird question, perhaps, but I’ve often wondered it myself and never been game to ask.
No, mine do not touch. I assume that to keep the teeth touching requires physical effort, so not relaxed.
Why do you ask?
October 17, 2020, 5:22 AM · Mine don't.

But I'll be mildly surprised if there is a universal answer.

October 17, 2020, 5:44 AM · I think teeth touching would be horrible but my dentist admits to being an habitual grinder. Does this have anything to do with playing violin?
Edited: October 17, 2020, 1:27 PM · I think teeth touching means your jaw is under tension; when my jaw is relaxed, it is open and teeth are not touching. I always have to make a conscious effort NOT to clench or close my jaw while playing violin, as my jaw is the first place tension builds.

Edited: October 17, 2020, 8:14 AM · I only saw a title. I didn't see any question or context, particularly with regard to violin playing. I'm not sure what to write.

But my guess -- and I'm only guessing -- is that if your teeth touched all the time while your face was at rest, they'd have worn away by now.

October 17, 2020, 8:15 AM · Yes. Going slack-jawed is bad for your nose.
October 17, 2020, 9:59 AM · It depends on where your head is. If you lean back then, no never. If you lean forwards they yes, always. In between mostly they do not but if you lie down with the same head angle mostly yes. If you lean to one side, they can contact one side of the jaw and not the other.

So the definitive answer is: Yes and No and in part and in part not.

Edited: October 17, 2020, 11:42 AM · Mine often do when my face is at "default"-- but this is a known tension area for me so not the ideal facial "rest position". They are not touching when I release my jaw, but sometimes I have to be conscious about that.

Yes, it does absolutely relate to violin. Much of my jaw tension is at least related to years of tense, jaw-clenched violin hold in my early learning. I still default to that if I'm not conscious about it.

October 17, 2020, 1:08 PM · My teacher would say you have a lot of jaw tension which will undoubtedly affect your sound.

I have alot of it.

His suggestions to me:

Practice with your mouth partially open; if you can do this your jaw will necessarily be less tense.

Practice with your head looking up, out of the chinrest.

Sounds dumb but it is really helpful.

October 17, 2020, 1:26 PM · I used to have really bad TMJ issues - My jaw would click or get stuck in a painful position. Later I would grind my teeth really badly in my sleep. Alexander Technique was really helpful for me.

Now I try and keep my lips light closed with my teeth not touching, and try and come back to my jaw and ask it to let go in the context of those other two points. That way, I breathe through my nose but my jaw stays fairly relaxed. I try and bring as much relaxation into my face in playing violin, and part of that is letting the weight of my head do as much of the work on my chinrest, and not do any extra pressing. Also, when I'm paying attention I try and release all tension in my upper body, because it can tend to spread and then you start to get used to it and stop noticing.

Take care of your teeth, people!

October 19, 2020, 7:36 PM · I used to hold a lot of tension in my jaw and held it in such a way that my teeth always met. However, my dentist recommended a mouth guard while I was sleeping or practicing and my jaw is much more relaxed with no teeth touching all of the time, even while practicing. Now my sound is much better. It's crazy how such a small thing makes a big difference.
October 20, 2020, 4:18 PM · At rest, no they don't touch. They use to touch when playing the violin, then I started getting concerned and I try to have a small space when playing. Unfortunately that means my jaw muscles have to work more to keep the teeth from touching with the weight of my head on the chin rest...
October 20, 2020, 5:49 PM · Lips together teeth apart works well for running as well as violin. Both pastimes require learning how to relax while doing something difficult.
October 21, 2020, 9:09 AM · James wrote: "At rest, no they don't touch. They use to touch when playing the violin, then I started getting concerned and I try to have a small space when playing. Unfortunately that means my jaw muscles have to work more to keep the teeth from touching with the weight of my head on the chin rest..."

Sounds like you are gripping the violin with your jaw James. I Play without an SR but still have a relaxed jaw - maybe you need to revisit your SR placement? Classically, the violin should rest on your collarbone (if your anatomy permits it) not be held there. Of course, we all differ.

October 21, 2020, 1:46 PM · Yes I do believe I'm gripping the violin with my jaw. It is probably a response to my not wanted to grip the violin by raising my left shoulder too much. It rests on my collarbone like it should, but I don't see a solution for having a relaxed jaw which makes contact with the chinrest, that also includes not having the top and bottom teeth touch... As I bring the violin to my neck, my jaw is relaxed and teeth apart, but as soon as my jaw lies on the chinrest, the very minimal amount of pressure which my head exerts onto the chinrest is enough to makes my teeth touch. So I grip the violin with my jaw, but actually very lightly and only as much as necessary! Nevertheless, the contact is more than enough to put my teeth together without some activity from the jaw to keep it apart.

What would you suggest Elise? Do you play without teeth touching? Does anyone actually, out of interest? I feel like this should be the real topic of this discussion. The only person I now for sure whose teeth do not touch is Gidon Kremer, because he always plays with his mouth open!
October 21, 2020, 2:44 PM · It is OK if they touch, as long as you do not have a tense bite. But if you can have the mouth closed without the teeth touching, all the better.

Definitely better to have them touch than raising the shoulder for support. Just be mindful of *zero* tension on your jaw, whether teeth touch or otherwise. In less experienced players, the tendency would be a tense bite of death while the cheek/chin is on the chinrest, so always watch out for that not happening, and that you are able to relax your head away from the chinrest, with or without shoulder rest.


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