Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Dentists May Be The First Line Against Measles

Thanks to vaccines and a diligent medical community, diseases such as polio and tuberculosis aren't really a worry.  However, one infectious disease remains a problem worldwide (including pockets of the United States):  measles.
Key to preventing the spread of measles is detecting the illness early. This is where a dentist can be lifesaving.  That's because the first signs of measles occur typically in the head and neck region -- and in the oral cavity.

Oral lesions called Koplik spots (clustered, white sores opposite the lower molars), may be the very first indication that a person has the measles.  These oral spots appear several days before the more commonly-recognized red "measles rash" develops.

In years past, measles was rare, and looking for symptoms during a dental exam wasn't routine.  But, according to Dr. Catherine Flaitz, a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, times have definitely changed.

"All of a sudden, this viral infection has resurfaced," says Dr. Flaitz. "In the past, we educated our students about this disease with the caveat that it is unlikely they will diagnose a case among their patients.  And now with this lack of universal vaccination, we're beginning to see these oral manifestations present themselves again." 

In fact, after the recent Disneyland measles outbreak, dentists are now called upon to be "vigilant," for signs of this serious disease.


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