June 23, 2022

Monkeypox and its effects on the mouth

Monkeypox generated a wave of fear and unpredictability. After the 2019 pandemic, Monkeypox is considered a significant threat to the world. While experts have deemed fear unnecessary since the predictability of the virus is well known. Some authorities still warned of the outbreak.

Since COVID-19 has affected the dental industry more than any other profession, dentists around the world are still recovering from the aftermath of the pandemic. Meanwhile, Monkeypox has caused another threat to dentists since the spread of contagious infection can also occur through respiratory droplets.

Once the initial infection has made its way through the body, there is a latent incubation phase of infection.

It lasts for about 7 to 14 days, after which the patient may experience symptoms such as fever, malaise, headache and weakness.

While most cases of Monkeypox mimic generic symptoms, some cases may reflect infection in the oral cavity.

Swollen lymph nodes

One of the most prominent symptoms of Monkeypox is lymphadenopathy – characterized by enlargement or swelling of the lymph nodes due to infection.

In most cases of Monkeypox virus, lymphadenopathy can be seen in the submandibular, cervical, axillary (armpit), and groin regions.

Oral lesions

According to the CDC, oral lesions can be seen in about 75% of monkeypox cases in parts of Africa.

These lesions are well circumscribed, circular and deeply rooted. Some of these lesions develop an umbilication – which can be seen as a kind of dot just above the lesion.

Eruption

Most rashes develop on the body after the latent phase is over during Monkeypox infection.

The first signs of these rashes appear on the face and then move down to the chest, arms and groin.

Surprisingly, dentists may be more likely to detect early signs of monkeypox infection than any other health care practitioner.

A patient entering the dental office could be in the prodromal phase. However, the first lesion to develop is an intraoral lesion.

A dentist can protect his health and well-being and that of the people in the dental office by checking the tongue for any signs of redness or ulcers.

This will be followed by an examination of the lymph nodes. The submandibular and cervical lymph nodes can be a telltale in patients infected with Monkeypox virus if they are enlarged.

Lymphadenopathy is another way to differentiate Monkeypox virus from varicella and smallpox since lymphadenopathy only appears in the former.

In cases where facial lesions are distinguished during the visit, the dentist should refer the patient to a general practitioner for consultation.

Other Symptoms of Monkeypox Virus

Besides lymphadenopathy and skin lesions, other symptoms include fever, malaise, exhaustion, and muscle aches.

Although the outbreak of Monkeypox in several countries may have come as a surprise, the disease can be managed with optimal care and hygiene practices.

Dentists are encouraged to look for these signs during their clinical practice in order to catch the infection early and refer the patient to a GP for further evaluation of the case.


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