Don't Forget The Dentist!

Research from Oregon Health & Science University's School of Dentistry, published in the Journal of Endodontics, suggests that you are more likely to suffer with dental problems, especially endodontic ones, if you have had mono or other illnesses connected to the human herpesvirus group.

The researchers looked at the effects of some of the HHV group of viruses on inflammatory diseases of the mouth. They discovered more incidents of irreversible pulpitis and apical periodontitis in people who had the Epstein Barr virus in their system than in people who didn't. This may mean that you are more likely to need root canal work if you have suffered with mono.


Researchers have been performing studies on the relationship between herpes viruses and oral disease, but in the main this research has been centered on periodontitis.

Until now, there has been no serious attempt to see how the herpes virus relates to the endodontic patient who is beset by various inflammatory diseases. The OHSU team decided to analyze whether human cytomegalovirus (HCMV), Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), herpes simplex virus (HSV-1), and Varicella zoster virus (VZV) might be present in their endodontic patients.

Bone Loss

The study included 82 endodontic patients, some with irreversible pulpitis and apical periodontitis, and used 19 healthy patients as the control group. The researchers wanted to discover if the herpes virus could be implicated in various clinical symptoms, for instance, acute pain, and bone loss.

Through the use of several methods of analysis, the OHSU found the DNA and RNA of the Epstein-Barr virus in the endodontic patients in significant percentages: 43.9% had the DNA, and 25.6% had the RNA of the virus as compared to the healthy group, none of whom had these markers.

On the other hand, Human cytomegalovirus DNA and RNA could be found in significant measures in the endodontic patients, 15.9% and 29.3% respectively, and in the healthy group, 42.1% and 10.5% respectively.

As for the Herpes simplex virus DNA, this was found in a small percentage of the endodontic patients, 13.4%, and there was only one patient who had markers for Varicella zoster virus.

Effective Treatments

An earlier study had looked at herpes viruses in relation to apical periodontitis, but, "this is the first time irreversible pulpitis has been analyzed for the presence of herpes viruses and associated with Epstein-Barr virus," commented Curt Machida, Ph.D., OHSU professor of integrative biosciences and lead author of the study.

"The incidence of irreversible pulpitis and apical periodontitis, caused by bacteria and possibly the latent herpes virus, is painful and can greatly impair the body's natural immune system. Studies such as ours could someday lead to more effective treatments of inflammatory diseases of the mouth."

What is pulpitis?

Pulpitis is when the tooth pulp and the tissues surrounding the root of the tooth become inflamed, damaged or injured. If proper dental care is taken, the body is often able to repair itself and no serious dental work may be necessary.

However, if the condition becomes irreversible then root canal work or even removal of the diseased tooth or surgery may be necessary.

Proper dental hygiene is essential

Proper dental hygiene is therefore essential to prevent decay and damage to your teeth, not to mention your wallet and your smile.

If you haven't had a dental check up in a while before you had mono it's a good idea to make an appointment with your local dentist as soon as you feel well enough. At the same time, arrange a time slot with the dental hygienist for a refresher in good dental hygiene.

Make sure that you have regular check ups with your dentist and schedule frequent appointments with the hygienist as well. Remind them that you had a bout of mono and that therefore you may be more prone to problems that would require root canal work.

Prevention is better than a cure every time, and certainly a lot cheaper so get to the dentist at the first sign of any trouble!

Don't share toothbrushes!

To make sure that you don't pass on any infection or gum disease, remember to keep your toothbrush to yourself and change them frequently.

Get easily identifiable brushes for the whole family so that no one uses someone else's by mistake. You can also get fold up brushes to keep in your pocket book or desk so that you can keep those pearly whites really sparkling at work or even when you are out and about.

If you look after your teeth properly, they should last you a lifetime.

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