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Maintaining dental health as an athlete
Updated: 11/23/2009 12:59:03 PM

Maintaining dental health as an athlete Many contact sports require players to wear mouth guards, which should be cleaned regularly to maintain good dental health.

Oklahoma State University conducted a study that revealed mouth guards can be highly contaminated with bacteria and microorganisms like staph and pneumococci, the bacterium that can lead to pneumonia. One way to avoid getting sick because of a dirty mouth guard is to soak the item in a dental cleaner.

"You expose the mouth guard to, say, a thousand germs," said Dr Tom Glass, a microbiologist. "Then you put the mouth guard away and, overnight, millions and millions of germs will grow from that thousand, so when you put the mouth guard back in, certainly you have a significant number of microorganisms."

The Mayo Clinic says that oral health and overall health are connected. Unhealthy mouths can allow bacteria to enter the bloodstream and lead to periodontitis, which can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Brushing twice a day, flossing regularly and visiting the dentist for routine checkups can be good ways to avoid developing gum disease.

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