October 3, 2019

The Truth Behind Musical Instruments and Germs

Filed under: Uncategorized — allheart_dental @ 2:13 pm

little girl playing saxophone

Your child is excited about joining their school band, and you couldn’t be happier for them. After all, multiple studies have shown that kids who play musical instruments receive better grades. To top it all off, they’re learning a new skill and making friends while doing so. But a small part of you is worried about their instrument carrying germs that might make them sick. Is this true? A children’s dentist has the answer.

Brass Instruments and Germs

Bands are typically divided into two sections: brass and woodwinds. Brass instruments use the player’s mouth to vibrate and produce sound, while woodwind instruments use a small synthetic piece of cane plant known as a reed. When bacteria in brass instruments were studied, more often than not, it was non-pathogenic, or harmless, bacteria that were found.

However, a few strains of potentially dangerous bacteria were found in less than 10% of the brass instruments:

  • Bacillus: This is the organism that causes anthrax, and can also be to blame for the stomach flu.
  • Streptococcus viridans: This strain of bacteria can lead to respiratory tract infection, meningitis, and abdominal infection.
  • Staphylococcus aureus: This can cause staph infections, as well as pneumonia and food poisoning.

Again, these bacteria strains were only found in less than 10% of the instruments studied. However, it’s worth your time to take a look at the bacteria found in woodwind instruments.

Woodwind Instruments and Germs

Every woodwind instrument, except the flute, is played through a reed, which vibrates when air is blown into it to produce sound. When the bacteria in woodwinds were studied, it was found that 13% had Coccus growth, like strep and staph. Additionally, a whopping 54% had Bacillus bacteria.

It’s important to note that these amounts of bacteria wouldn’t harm your average, healthy kid. In children with compromised immune systems, however, it could become harmful.

How to Keep Your Child’s Reeds Clean

One study has noted that failure to clean a reed can actually cause fungal growth on the reed. As a result, here are some tips for keeping your child’s reeds infection-free:

  • Make sure your child brushes and/or rinses with mouthwash before each session of playing their instrument. A clean mouth will help keep a clean reed.
  • Talk to your kid’s band director about how often the instrument should be taken apart and cleaned.
  • The Academy of General Dentistry suggests that instruments should be disassembled for thorough cleanings on a regular basis, and that the entire instrument should be cleaned, since germs can travel throughout the instrument. They also advise that instruments should NOT be shared, if possible.
  • If your child has a weakened immune system, don’t be afraid to let their band teacher know. That way, they can cut back on shared instrument use during class time.

Now that you know the truth about musical instruments and germs, you can help stop the spread of harmful bacteria that could infect your child.

About the Practice

Allheart Dental Care has four locations conveniently spread throughout the Dallas/ Fort Worth Metroplex. We have a skilled friendly staff and keep up with the latest and greatest in dental technology. We also have plenty of kid-friendly office amenities, like surprise toys after each visit. For more information, click here to contact us.

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