Guarding against mouthguard risks

August 20, 2012 8:51:10 PM PDT
Young athletes are back on the field getting ready for the fall season and along with hair-ties, helmets and jerseys, for many, another vital part of the uniform is the mouthguard

It can help prevent tooth and jaw damage, but mouthguards can also pose a risk.

They can harbor bacteria, fungus or mold, especially if they're kept somewhere warm and moist like a gym bag.

Just holding one in a sock or sports bra can also lead to contamination.

It can cause stomach illness and there are documented cases of worsening asthma and meningitis associated with dirty mouthguards.

Dr. Daniel Taub, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, says serious infections are rare, but possible.

"If there is a cut in the gum, especially an area where there is a lot of blood supply...bacteria could then enter the mouth and then the blood stream," Dr. Taub said.

To keep players healthy many NFL teams including the Philadelphia Eagles have started using a product called Defense Sport Mouthguard Rinse.

Albert Dolceamore whose company, SaniBrands, Inc., makes the product says studies show it helps eliminate germs.

Plus, it is alcohol and sugar free. It has the same ingredient used by many healthcare professionals.

"Chlorhexadine is a broad spectrum antiseptic that has been used in the fields of dentistry, surgery and even veterinary medicine for decades," Dr. George Lynch of Cobblestone Kids Pediatric Dentistry said.

Dr. Lynch looked over the studies on Defense Sport and says it's not just good for professionals but also student athletes.

He and Dr. Taub recommend mouthguards are kept in a clean container and are disinfected before, during, and after practice.

Dr. George says Defense Sport makes that easier for kids.

"I think the way this is dispensed in the bottle, it's something they can tuck away in their bag, have on the sidelines and it's just an easy little squirt, they pop it in and they're done," Dr. George said.

Of course, there are other products you can use to clean a mouthguard at home, but on the field, it's a bit tougher. That's why Dolceamore says he wanted to make this product.

Defense Sport Mouthguard rinse is endorsed by the National Athletic Trainers Association. It costs $9.95 for a bottle.

For more information about product or where it is sold, visit www.defensesport.com


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