Mary Bea Drummond | 918-594-8223
Sean Kennedy | 918-594-8360
|Used woodwind and brass musical instruments harbor harmful bacteria, fungi
shown that playing a musical instrument can help nourish, cultivate, and
increase intelligence in children, but playing a used instrument also can pose a
potentially dangerous health risk.
Used woodwind and
brass instruments were found to be heavily contaminated with a variety of
bacteria and fungi, many of which are associated with minor to serious
infectious and allergic diseases, according to a study published in the
March/April 2011 issue of General Dentistry, the peer-reviewed clinical
journal of the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD).
participate in their school's band ensemble and often the instruments they play
are on loan," said R. Thomas Glass, DDS, PhD, lead author of the study. "Most of
these instruments have been played by other students, and without the proper
sanitation, bacteria and fungi can thrive for weeks and even months after the
A total of 117
different sites, including the mouthpieces, internal chambers, and cases, were
tested on 13 previously played instruments of a high school band. Six of the
instruments had been played within a week of testing, while seven hadn't been
touched in about one month. The instruments produced 442 different bacteria,
many of which were species of Staphylococcus, which can cause
staph infections. Additionally, 58 molds and 19 yeasts were identified.
"Parents may not
realize that the mold in their child's instrument could contribute to the
development of asthma," said Dr. Glass.
yeasts on the instruments commonly cause skin infections around the mouth and
lips ("red lips").
instruments come into contact with the mouth, it's no wonder they're a breeding
ground for bacteria," said AGD spokesperson Cynthia Sherwood, DDS, FAGD. "As
dentists, we see this same growth of bacteria in dentures, athletic mouthguards,
that many of the bacteria can cause illness in humans and are highly resistant
to the antibiotics normally prescribed by general practitioners. This finding
makes sterilization of instruments extremely important.
should be cleaned after each use to reduce the number of organisms," said Dr.
Sherwood. "And cleaning should not be confined to the mouthpiece, since the
bacteria invade the entire instrument."
transmission of bacteria from instrument to player, parents and students should
frequently wipe the surface of the instrument that comes into contact with the
skin and mouth. The instrument should be taken apart for thorough cleanings on a
regular basis. Dr. Glass suggests using cleaning cloths and solutions made
specifically for instruments. Most importantly, students are advised not to
share their instruments with others. The instruments can actually be sterilized (killing of all germs) using ethylene oxide. Sterilization should occur when the musician has a prolonged illness; when the instruments are changed from one player to another; and/or when the instruments are stored for more than three months. Contract ethylene oxide sterilization is available at a number of facilities in the community that service the medical device industry (check maestromd.com as an example).
Academy of General Dentistry
The Academy of
General Dentistry (AGD) is a professional association of more than 35,000
general dentists dedicated to staying up to date in the profession through
continuing education to better serve the public. Founded in 1952, the AGD has
grown to become the second largest dental association in the United States, and
it is the only association that exclusively represents the needs and interests
of general dentists. More than 772,000 persons in the United States are employed
directly in the field of dentistry. A general dentist is the primary care
provider for patients of all ages and is responsible for the diagnosis,
treatment, management and overall coordination of services related to patients'
oral health needs. For more information about the AGD, please visit
About OSU Center for Health Sciences
Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences in
Tulsa offers programs in osteopathic medicine, biomedical sciences and forensic
sciences. Since its beginnings more than 30 years ago, OSU-CHS has grown to
offer eight graduate degrees. On-campus programs, distance learning and OSU
partnerships train osteopathic physicians, research scientists and health care
professionals with an emphasis on serving rural and under-served Oklahoma. OSU
operates eight clinics, six in Tulsa, one in Enid and one in Muskogee. More
information about OSU Center for Health Sciences is available at
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