The body’s immunity is essential for maintaining health and preventing infections. It consists of a complex system of specialized cells, tissues and organs that work together to recognize and eliminate pathogens. Viral infections can affect different parts of the body, including the oral cavity, and immunity plays an important role in preventing and fighting them. In this article, we will discuss the body’s immunity and how viruses can affect the oral cavity.
When foreign bodies of any kind are inoculated, the body’s immune system has mechanisms to fight the pathogens but also to prevent their further penetration.
Pathogens include bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites.
Each of these in turn contains other subclasses and may have a predilection towards certain structures in the body.
The immune system plays a crucial role in defending against infection and immune mechanisms are present from birth to the end of life in all living things.
It is the body’s first line of defence and is activated rapidly on contact with the pathogen.
Immune mechanism factors provide the body’s natural resistance and may be located in tissues and mucosa, reacting first by creating a barrier to microbes, or they may be located intracellularly, playing an active role in intercepting, destroying and eliminating these micro-organisms.
Intracellular factors, which act directly on pathogens, are present in blood, joint fluid and various secretions such as milk, saliva or tears. In the case of the oral cavity, the main factor maintaining oral health is saliva, secreted by the three major salivary glands, i.e. submandibular, parotid and sublingual.
The roles of saliva
Digestive – progressively soaks food with saliva as it is crushed by the dental units and facilitates the sliding of the food bowl thus formed to the lower structures of the digestive system
Maintains mucosal integrity – saliva washes mucous membranes, thus removing food residues containing bacteria. It also neutralizes acids, preventing mucosal erosion. By keeping the mucous membranes permanently moist, it maintains their integrity. A dry mucous membrane is susceptible to cracking and ulceration, which is a breeding ground for bacterial attack.
Cryoprotective role – through self-cleaning and the ability to neutralize acids entering the body, saliva prevents the development of caries. However, hygiene must also contribute to maintaining oral health as saliva alone does not fully protect against caries formation.
Toxic residue removal pathway – some substances from the metabolism of biological products as well as drugs and viruses can be removed.
The immune system includes innate immunity, also called innate resistance, and acquired immunity, developed during life through contact with microbial agents.
Viruses in the oral cavity
The oral cavity is an important area for our health and can be affected by different types of viral infections. These can affect the lips, gums, soft palate, tonsils, tongue or oral mucosa. Viral infections of the oral cavity can be caused by different types of viruses, such as the herpes virus or the Epstein-Barr virus.
Measles is a highly contagious infectious disease. After an incubation period of 10-14 days, it starts with malaise, fever, anorexia, conjunctivitis and respiratory symptoms.
Mumps virus it is the most common cause of salivary gland disease, causing mumps.
The infection is general in nature, affecting other tissues such as the liver, kidney, pancreas, ovary, testicles, thyroid, joints and central nervous system.
Infected persons have an onset period characterized by non-specific signs such as fever, chills, malaise, headache followed by the appearance of parotid swelling.
The enlargement of the parotid gland masks the angle of the mandible. In the oral cavity, swelling and redness of the stenon canal orifice, located at the level of the upper arches, is observed in the lateral regions.
Significant parotid swelling may lead to trismus, with feeding and speech difficulties.
Treatment of mumps is mainly symptomatic. Corticosteroids are used only in severe cases. For patients with trismus a diet of semi-solid consistency is recommended.
The body’s immunity is a complex system that protects the body against infections and other diseases. The immune system is made up of a series of specialized cells, including white blood cells, antibodies and other proteins that prevent the entry and spread of pathogens such as viruses. These cells and proteins work together to detect, recognize and eliminate pathogens.
There are two types of immunity in the body: innate immunity and acquired immunity. Innate immunity is the immunity we are born with and develops from pregnancy, providing general protection against a wide range of pathogens.
Acquired immunity, on the other hand, is that which develops during our lifetime and is specific to each pathogen with which the body comes into contact.
The herpes virus is one of the most common causes of lesions in the oral cavity. It can cause conditions such as oral herpes or genital herpes and can be transmitted through contact with a lesion or through sexual contact.
Symptoms of oral herpes include swelling, pain and blistering lesions that appear around the lips, in the mouth or on the tongue.
The Epstein-Barr virus can cause infectious mononucleosis, a disease that manifests as fever, fatigue, sore throat and swollen lymph nodes. This virus can be transmitted through contact with infected saliva.
Immunity plays a crucial role in protecting the oral cavity against viral infections. Firstly, innate immunity provides general protection against infection via white blood cells and other immune components. They are able to recognize and eliminate viruses before they enter healthy cells in the oral cavity.
In addition, acquired immunity can be developed through exposure to viruses. Once the immune system recognizes a particular virus, it can produce specific antibodies to fight the virus in the event of reinfection. Specialized immune cells, called T cells and B cells, are also able to recognize and eliminate viruses in the oral cavity.
How the immune system reacts to viral infection can vary depending on the virus and the general health of the infected person. In general, good immunity can help prevent or limit the symptoms of viral infections in the oral cavity. Conversely, a weakened immune system can make these infections more severe and difficult to treat.
The body’s immunity is essential for maintaining health and preventing viral infections in the oral cavity. The immune system can recognize and fight different types of viruses, including those that cause infections in the oral cavity. Acquired immunity can be developed through exposure to viruses, and a good immune system can help prevent or limit the symptoms of viral infections. Conversely, a weakened immune system can make these infections more severe and difficult to treat. It is therefore important to pay attention to the body’s immunity and maintain a healthy lifestyle to reduce the risk of viral infections in the oral cavity and other parts of the body.