As my Kansas State friends revel in their No. 4 national ranking after trouncing West Virginia yesterday, and as alum Josh Freeman shines for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers today (I love watching football at 4 a.m. Monday in Brisbane background), it has alarmed some players to know that mouthguards are covered in crap.
Athletic mouthguards are a crucial football equipment item. But according to the USA Today, studies have found blood, sputum, mouth discharges (tobacco products), chemicals, animal feces and other players’ DNA on players’ hands, gloves, helmets, uniforms, shoes, socks and equipment.
Richard T. Glass, professor of forensic sciences, pathology and dental medicine at Oklahoma State University, has studied mouthguards extensively. He collaborated on a study that found microbial contamination of mouthguards by bacteria, yeasts and molds associated with heart disease, pneumonia, meningitis and infections of the skin, mouth, gum, bone and urinary and gastro-intestinal tracts. The unpleasant and self-evident truth is this: if a player removes and reinserts his mouthguard, he might as well be sticking his fingers or gloves in his mouth.
Glass’ study determined that microbial load can be reduced by soaking a mouthguard in an antimicrobial solution between uses. He suggests replacing the mouthguard every two weeks. The solution is readily available if seldom accessed.
It’s like I tell 3-year-old Sorene; don’t put that finger in your ear or mouth; you don’t know where it’s been.
Be the bug; follow the bug; reduce the bug.