The Role of Dental Professionals in Bioterrorism Response

Credit: Jacob Sippel/USN

As dental professionals are an integral part of the healthcare community, they should be educated regarding the medical and oral manifestations of the diseases that result from a bioterrorist attack or pandemic event.

Dentists can play a critical role in communities simply by educating their patients and correcting misinformation that may be circulating throughout the general public. When hospitals become overwhelmed, dental offices can be prepared to serve as decentralized auxiliary hospitals as they are equipped with potentially useful equipment such as sterilization equipment, air and gas lines, radiology capabilities, suction equipment, instruments, and needles.

When the nature of the attack has been determined, dentists can provide an individual patient diagnosis by observing the physical and behavioral signs that people manifest. Critical local surveillance may be provided by the dentists to detect any spreading of disease beyond the original area of attack or re-emergence of infections.

Some of the important services dentists may provide during a mass casualty emergency include:

  • Detection of intraoral and cutaneous lesions
  • Providing and assisting in the administration of anesthesia
  • Starting intravenous lines
  • Treatment of cranial and facial injuries
  • Performing appropriate surgery and suturing
  • Assisting in stabilizing patients
  • Assisting in shock management
  • Collecting pre-antibiotic blood samples
  • Taking medical histories
  • Providing cardiopulmonary resuscitation

Additionally, dentists trained in forensic odontology can work closely with local disaster mortuary operational response teams.

Read more

International Journal of Disease Prevention and Control: A Dentist Role against Bioterrorism- An Overview (.pdf)

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