Monkeypox Virus & Dental Health. What is the relation?

Monkeypox, a rare virus, is part of the Orthopoxvirus Genus.  The virus was first discovered in 1970 in the United States. It has since been reported in the United States, Israel and Singapore. The natural reservoir for Monkeypox remains unknown at the moment.

The Monkeypox virus can enter the body through broken skin or the respiratory tract. Transmission from one person to another occurs mainly through the inhalation of respiratory droplets, which can occur during prolonged contact between people.

Monkeypox has caused fear and unpredictability. Monkeypox has been deemed a major threat to the world after the 2019 pandemic. Experts have dismissed the concern as unnecessary, since the virus’ predictability is well known. Nevertheless, some authorities have still warned about the possibility of an outbreak.

The COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the dental profession more than any other sector. Dentists around the world are still recovering from the effects of the pandemic. Monkeypox, a contagious respiratory infection that can spread through droplets of airborne virus, has also been a threat to dentists.

Oral Health and Monkeypox

After the initial infection has spread through the body there is a latent phase of incubation.

The symptoms can last from 7 to 14 days. After that, the patient may experience fever, malaise, headaches, and weakness.

Although most cases of Monkeypox mimic the symptoms, some cases may be due to an infection in the mouth.

dentist

Swollen Lymph nodes

Lymphadenopathy, which is the swelling or enlargement of lymph nodes caused by infection, is one of the most severe symptoms of Monkeypox.

Lymphadenopathy is a common manifestation of the Monkeypox disease. It can be found in the submandibular (cervical), cervical, axillary, armpit, and groin regions.

Oral Lesions

According to CDC oral lesions can be detected in around 75% of cases of Monkeypox in certain parts of Africa.

These lesions are well-circumscribed and circular, as well as deep-rooted. Umbilication can occur in some of these lesions. This is a type of dot that appears right above the lesion.

Rash

Most Rashes appear on the body following the Monkeypox latent phase.

These rashes begin on the face, and eventually move down to the chest and arms.

Surprisingly dentists are more likely than other healthcare professionals to spot early signs of monkeypox.

How can dentists diagnose monkeypox?

The prodromal phase is when a patient walks into the dental office. An intraoral lesion is the first to develop.

The dentist can help you and your family stay healthy by inspecting your tongue for signs of redness and recurrent mouth ulcers.

The lymph nodes will then be examined. If they become enlarged, the submandibular or cervical lymph nodes could be a sign that a patient has been infected by the Monkeypox disease.

Because lymphadenopathy can only be found in smallpox, chickenpox, and monkeypox, Lymphadenopathy can also be used to distinguish the Monkeypox virus.

If the dentist is unable to distinguish the facial lesions on the first visit, the dentist will refer the patient for consultation to a general practitioner.

Other signs of Monkeypox virus

Other than lymphadenopathy, skin lesions, there are other symptoms such as fever, malaise and exhaustion.

These could include a person with febrile prodrome. This is a fever greater than 38 degrees Celsius, chills, headaches, exhaustion and muscle aches. This refers to cases where the patient has had contact with an actual case within 21 days of symptom onset. Another option is to base clinical suspicion on factors such as the Monkeypox virus.

The most probable cases are those who have a Monkeypox compatible skin rash and at least one of three additional epidemiological criteria.

Confirmed cases will only be recorded if there is a positive PCR for the virus.

Although the Monkeypox outbreak in multiple countries may have been surprising, it can be controlled with proper hygiene and care.

These signs should be noted by dentists to help them catch the infection early and refer patients to general physicians for further treatment. If you have such signs visit your nearest dental clinic in your area or our dental clinic in Dubai to address your problem correctly. Monkeypox virus is rare. Most people who are infected with it will recover within weeks.

So, never panic. Be safe, be cool…!

Author: Dr. Hussain Al Saleh

Dr. Hussain Al Saleh is a Prosthodontist and Oral Implantologist who founded Oris Dental Center, one of Dubai’s first Emirati Multispeciality Dental Centers. He has extensive experience in Digital Dentistry, 3D Smile Design, Dental Implants, Bone Grafting, Cosmetic Dentistry, and Smile Makeover.

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