Dirty mouth guards could carry bacteria, mold, infections - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Doctors: Dirty mouth guards could carry bacteria, mold, infections

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LAVEEN, Ariz. -

Mouth guards -- obviously a very important piece of safety equipment for some athletes, but if you're not careful, you could be putting a lot of germs into your mouth that could cause problems.

Football players at Betty Fairfax High School are gearing up for a big season.

The last thing players are thinking about while passing, tackling and receiving are germs on their mouth guards.

"No, not until like late into the season when you got all these nasty ones in your locker piled up and you're like, man, but not early in the season," said student Angello Lopez.

"It's really nasty.  It's really nasty sometimes when you think about it because we don't wash it all the time," said student Brandon Sellers.

But dentists say -- you probably should -- those mouth guards could have bacteria -- even mold -- that could lead to infections, the common cold or herpes.

"We just see the real gross stuff they come in and they look like they're a hundred years old.. that's the stuff we see," said Dr. John Dougherty of Artistic Dental.

Dougherty says cleaning the mouth guards should be a habit.

"Put it in a case, in your bag when you get home at night and you're brushing your own teeth, just start taking a toothbrush and start brushing like you would your retainers or something like that."

And it wouldn't hurt, Dougherty says, to deep clean them once in a while.

"Once a week or even daily, you can put this in a bowl with Listerine or something like that or a cleaner.  Listerine is probably the best because it's anti microbial.

And while there's no way their uniforms will stay clean, dentists say their mouths should.

Dougherty says it's also important to change those mouth guards every season.

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