DentalHealth and Safety Infectious Diseases in Dentistry
Dentists and patients are predisposed to a number of infections thatcould result from bacterial, virus and fungi found in a clinicenvironment. Some of these organisms are essential to humans whileothers are dangerous pathogens that cause lethal diseases. Thebacteria are microscopic creatures often composed of single cells.The organisms thrive in diverse environments, including, soil, in andoutside the human body, in the body fluids as well as waste matterfrom the body. A tough coat that enables to resist the white bloodcells covers some bacteria (Gabbey).
On the other hand, virus refers non-cellular live elements thatcontain exclusively either RNA or DNA (nucleic acid) that is coveredcapsid (a protein matter). Viruses are so tiny that they can gothrough filters that bacteria cannot fit. Moreover, they have asimple structure that does not increase in size (Samiksha).
Fungi are a kingdom characterized by complex multicellular or singlecelled organisms. They can be found in several habitats, including,fresh water, dry land and on plants among other places. Some of theorganisms are categorized as parasites while others are decomposers.Similarly, a few varieties are associated with causing diseases toplants, humans and animals (Fungi).
Infections may be from patient to dentist or the dental staff,patient to patient or dentist to patient. HIV/AIDS, Herpes, HepatitisA, B and C, as well as tuberculosis (TB) are some of the most commonailments that circulate in dental clinic setting. HIV/AIDS, Herpes,and Hepatitis A, B and C are viral infections while TB is a bacterialinfection.
Hepatitis A (HAV) is a temporary viral contagion commonly spreadthrough water and foods polluted by fecal matter from peoplesuffering from the condition. Moreover, the viruses can also be foundin water contaminated by animal stool, insufficiently cooked or evenraw diets and foodstuff handled by people who have not cleaned theirhands properly (Tse). Hepatitis B (HBV) infection risk after apercutaneous exposure is at 30% (Laheij et.al). Transmission can alsooccur through exposure to blood or body fluids onto existingscratches, burns or abrasions. Conversely, HCV transmission onlyhappens through percutaneous exposure with a transmission risk of0.5% (Laheij et.al).
HIV/AIDS: Percutaneous exposure to blood infected by HIV has a0.3% risk contracting HIV with the risk going down to 0.1% afterexposure to mucous membranes to the mouth, nose or eye (Laheijet.al). Exposure to the skin has an even lower risk of infectionthough the exact spercentage is currently unknown. Risk of infectionrise with percutaneous exposure to large pools of infected blood andblood from a patient in the late stages of AIDS (Laheij et.al).
Herpes: HSV1 is the most common type of virus transmitted in adental setting. It is highly contagious and cross transmission canoccur through exposure to the contents of a HSV blister or themucosa.
TB: TB is mainly caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. TBtransmission in a dental setting is very low, but it is stillpossible. Dental surgeons with active pulmonary TB may transmit it totheir patients, particularly, during tooth extractions (Laheijet.al). Additionally, TB is an airborne disease.
Modes of transmission
There are different modes of transmission that can occur in adental setting. Firstly, is direct contact transmission where thebacteria/virus is transferred to a health person from an infectedperson through blood, contaminated fluids or a herpetic whitlow.Secondly, indirect contact transmission occurs through an immediateperson or object that is contaminated. For example, lack of handhygiene after contact with infected persons, lack of propersterilization of equipment or sharing toys among pediatric patients.Thirdly, droplet transmission is also a form of contact transmissionby contaminated droplet transmission directly, indirectly or throughthe air. Fourthly, airborne transmission occurs when infectiousagents are suspended in the air until a susceptible person breathesthen in therefore contacting the disease. Finally, parenteralexposure occurs when infectious blood finds its way in one’sbloodstream after the skin breaks.
Symptoms And Treatment
Hepatitis A,B, and C
Although several people who suffer from hepatitis do not show anysymptoms, the patients may experience nausea, fever, joint pain,fatigue and vomiting, which can last up to six months. Moreover, darkurine, abdominal pain, jaundice, diarrhea and lack of appetite areother common symptoms of the condition (Tse).
Currently, there is no specific medication of treatment for hepatitisA, B and C. Nevertheless, antiviral drugs such as lamivudine can beprescribed when the infection is severe (Tse).In the case of HBVand HCV that fail to heal naturally, patients are administered withantivirals orally or through injection. Nevertheless, severe casesmay necessitate a liver transplant (Tse).
HIV and AIDS
Recently infected victims may not have any symptoms, but in the latestages, the signs include profound fatigue, frequent fevers, rapidweight loss and profuse night sweats. Other symptoms include swollenlymph nodes, headache, diverse rashes, sore throat, yeast infections,muscle stiffness and mouth sores (Vyas and Zieve). Currently,there is no cure to the virus. Nonetheless, antiretroviral therapyhelps to repress multiplication of the virus. Consequently, thepatients can live longer since the reduced number of HIV in thebloodstream allows the body to function normally (Vyas andZieve).
Herpes SimplexVirus (HSV)
Painful blisters, sores around the mouth and itching or tinglingaround the mouth (Herpes simplex virus).Antiviral medication isprescribed to HSV patients to reduce the frequency and severity ofsymptoms, but there is no permanent cure available (Herpes simplexvirus).
Persistent coughs, coughing blood, appetite loss, weight loss,constant fatigue, night sweats and fever (Tuberculosis Symptoms,Causes & Risk Factors).TB is treatable through drugs that aretaken consistently over long periods.
Dental settings expose people to various viral diseases suchHIV/AIDS, HSV1, tuberculosis and hepatitis A, B and C. Knowledgeabout these diseases is important to know how to prevent them fromoccurring in a dental setting. Such knowledge will prevent futurelawsuits, differing or even death that may arise because of crosstransmission of such infections. Due to the severity of theseinfections, care has to be taken to minimize their occurrence.Prevention is always better than cure.
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