Do You Know What’s Living In Your Mouthpiece?

Do You Know What’s Living In Your Mouthpiece?

When your instrument fights back!

If you’re a musician who loves to play an instrument with a mouthpiece, you will no doubt take great pride in keeping the instrument clean and well maintained. Why do Abbey Road Dental care about that? Because we know that the cleaning and maintaining of your instrument, is directly linked to your oral hygiene.


You mouth is in constant, direct contact with the mouthpiece on the instrument you play. This means you’re at risk of lots of little, thriving nasties growing in your mouthpiece and finding their way into your mouth. In a Huffington Post article written called “‘Saxophone Lung’ developed by a man who didn’t clean his clarinet mouthpiece for 30 years” a curious disease is described, where the man in question developed a type of hypersensitivity pneumonitis caused by his lack of instrument hygiene.

The article described how;

“A case study presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology shows that it’s possible to develop allergic pulmonary disease, known as “Saxophone Lung,” in response to the mold that collects over time in woodwind instruments.”  – Huffington Post

The poor man was coughing, sneezing and experiencing breathing difficulties when he attempted to seek treatment for his condition. Although he was diagnosed with a common lung condition at first, further tests showed he was harbouring a fungus called ‘exophiala’ which was found in his saxophone reed. This fungus is what caused his condition. The man was treated with steroids but the only way to eradicate the condition completely was to sterilise the mouthpiece of his instrument, something he hadn’t done for a very long time.

The article also discussed various other case studies relating to problems associated with a lack of instrument hygiene. Including a person who had a cough for 15 years which was cured by him cleaning his trombone mouthpiece thoroughly, and another person who suffered from breathing problems until he too cleaned his mouthpiece.

Who Is At Risk?

Anyone who regularly plays an instrument needs to pay close attention to their instrument cleaning regime. Children are particularly at risk because they may play and share instruments belonging to the school, which may well not get regularly cleaned.

How Can I Prevent This Happening?

Here at your NW8 Abbey Road Dentist, we recommend you consider your instrument cleaning regime to be part of your overall dental and oral hygiene regime. Use an alcohol wipe to thoroughly clean the mouthpiece of your instrument and if you don’t know how to do that, have a look online (type how to clean an instrument mouthpiece into Google) so that you can learn. It’s a quick and easy job that could prevent you suffering all kinds of nasty symptoms, so it really is worth it.

Need More Advice?

If you want more advice on oral hygiene or simply want to come and visit the friendliest dentists in NW8, please get in touch and we will be happy to book you in with one of our highly qualified team.

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