Evaluation of the microbial flora found in woodwind and brass instruments and their potential to transmit diseases

R. Thomas Glass, Robert S. Conrad, Gerwald A. Kohler, James W. Bullard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


Previous studies of dental devices (toothbrushes, dentures, and protective athletic mouthguards) have demonstrated microbial contamination of these devices and possible transmission of infectious diseases to the users. Since woodwind and brass instruments come into intimate contact with the musician's oral cavity and often are passed from student to student without sanitation, the question arises as to whether these instruments are contaminated and can transmit microbial diseases. The purpose of this study was to determine if woodwind and brass instruments and/or their cases harbor opportunistic, pathogenic, or allergenic microorganisms that can be transmitted to the musician. The internal components of woodwind and brass instruments harbored opportunistic, pathogenic, and/or allergenic microorganisms. The highest concentrations of microorganisms were found consistently at the mouthpiece end, but there was evidence of contamination throughout the instruments and their cases. The close proximity of contaminated mouthpieces to the oral cavity could facilitate local and systemic dissemination of the resident opportunistic, pathogenic, and/or allergenic microorganisms. General dentists should determine whether patients play a brass or woodwind instrument and be aware of the possible impact of this activity on the oral cavity and the entire body.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)100-107
Number of pages8
JournalGeneral Dentistry
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2011


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