Hepatitis is a disease of concern, and is of three types, namely A, B & C. HBV and HCV can be transmitted by skin prick with infected, contaminated needles or through accidental inoculation of small quantities of blood during dental procedures.
HBV & HCV are a major cause of liver cirrhosis & liver cancer, hence can cause both acute & chronic diseases. The initial warning symptoms includes jaundice, light colored poop, persistent fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea & vomiting. Symptoms may not show up until 1 to 6 months after getting the virus. About one third of the people however remain completely asymptomatic & only find out through a blood test.
There is no cure for Hepatitis C or B. There are however several treatments that can help and manage the symptoms and reduce the risk of long term health problems such as cirrhosis. In addition blood tests have to be done every six months to monitor the viral load. For HB, the vaccine is available. It’s most commonly administrated in 2 or 3 injections over a course of 6 months. All newborn babies should get vaccinated, so should people who come in contact with infected blood or body fluids such as dentists & doctors. For Hepatitis C however, there’s no vaccine available. To help avoiding the virus, one should make sure
Not to share personal items like razor.
Not to share needles/syringes when injecting drugs.
Be careful if you get a tattoo, manicure or body piercing.
Dentists have to be particularly careful & should follow standard precautions e.g. gloves, masks & protective eyewear, whenever there is danger of contact with such patients. A dentist should however follow these protocols by considering each & every patient as a potential carrier of hepatitis. The dentist usually acquires the virus through a cut in finger contaminated by the patient’s blood or saliva. Hence they are at a great risk of exposure because of their various encounters involving the use and disposal of sharp instruments. Infections can also be acquired by the use of aerosols. Research has demonstrated that pre-procedural oral rinses with antiseptic mouth washes produced quite a reduction in air borne contaminants. Post Exposure Prophylaxis In spite of following the standard protocols, if a dentist still faces an accidental exposure, a mandatory protocol PEP is implemented in a six steps procedure
1. Treatment of the site of exposure. The site of exposure should be washed as soon as possible with soap and water only. Eyes should be flushed with water and saline solutions.
2. Report and documentations: Complete details should be recorded regarding the time and date of exposure, severity of injury, patient’s medical history and use of antiretroviral therapy.
3. Evaluation of sources
4. Get the patient tested for anti-HBsAg, HCV and HIV antibodies.
5. Control monitoring: – Testing for anti HBs antibodies 1-2 months after the last dose of vaccine.
6. Repeat tests for anti HCV antibodies& ALT 4-6 months after exposure and deal accordingly.
If you look into your own mouth or someone else’s mouth, there are certain signs that would indicate to you that the mouth is healthy. A healthy mouth would have pink gums that fits tightly around all the teeth. Teeth will be shiny, without any dark or broken areas. Teeth won’t be wobbly. If there are dentures, they will fit well, without causing pain or any eating problems. Maintaining proper dental hygiene and a healthy mouth is extremely important for your overall health and well-being. Neglecting your mouth will lead to poor oral hygiene, which would give way to dental cavities and gum diseases, which in turn can lead to cancer and cardiac problems. An unhealthy mouth will have an offending odor & the
gums will be red and inflamed and bleed easily. There will be red and dark patches in the mouth. The teeth will also be loose or broken with holes or dark patches on them. The dentures will fit poorly and there will be difficulty in chewing. Maintaining healthy teeth and gums is a lifelong commitment, which should be learned as early as possible. The first important thing also called the ABC’s of oral health, is brushing, flossing and rinsing. Proper brushing should be done twice a day every day for at least two minutes each time with a good fluoride tooth paste and a soft bristles tooth brush. With gentle strokes all the surfaces of the teeth should be thoroughly cleaned. Other than brushing, we should floss at least once a day, using a proper flossing technique.
In order to keep your mouth healthy however, brushing and flossing are not enough! You
1. Give up on drinking excessive soda/coke.
2. Quit cigarettes and avoid tobacco products.
3. Pay a regular visit to your dentist (6 monthly)
4. Lessen your sugar intake, which is the major culprit of cavities and caries. One
must lessen the sugar consumption and increase the intake of fruits and vegetables.
5. Look inside your mouth regularly for irritated gums and sores. Taking pains to look after your teeth will help you avoid expensive dental procedures and long term health problems.