What are Cold Sores?
Cold sores (Herpetic Lesions) are groups of small blisters around the mouth or on the lips that are caused by the herpes simplex virus. A break in the skin inside or around the mouth, gives the virus an entrance point into the body. Contact with infected body fluid allows the virus to spread. This can occur when sharing things like eating utensils or cups, razors or lip balm, or kissing or touching that person’s saliva. A well-meaning kiss from a parent to child is a common way that this virus spreads.
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What are the symptoms of Cold Sores?
Cold sores often first present with warning signs, also known as prodromal symptoms. These include, fever, sore throat, or swollen glands and an itching, tingling or pain sensation on the lips and around the mouth. A blister will soon appear and then break open and release a clear fluid. The lesion will crust over and then disappear after a week or two.
How are Cold Sores treated?
Cold sores will begin to heal on their own a few days after they appear and will usually go away within a week or two. Despite this, Cold sores are often very painful, and many treatment options are available. Pills and ointments are commonly prescribed to lessen the uncomfortable symptoms, and will help the sore to heal a day or two faster. Today, dental soft tissue lasers are available and are a much more effective treatment modality.
Laser treatment for cold sores is best done at the very onset of symptoms and can prevent an outbreak or blister from occurring. As soon as any of these symptoms present, call our office to schedule an appointment. Even if the sore is already there, laser treatment can provide relief from the discomfort of the sore and decrease healing time to less than 24 hours. Laser treatment of cold sores is affordable and often covered by insurance. Relief is immediate and treatment can even prevent sores if done early enough.
What are Canker Sores?
Canker sores are painful sores that present as whitish-grey areas surrounded by a bright red area. They tend to occur more frequently in women than men, and can occur at any age. These sores usually appear on the surface of the gums, roof of the mouth, cheeks, lips and tongue. These sores are completely benign.
What causes canker sores?
While the exact cause of canker sores is unknown, they often occur as a result of emotional stress, hormonal changes or trauma to the tissue. Canker sores may also be related to an underlying health condition or compromised immune system. Canker sores can be linked with Iron, B-12 and folic acid deficiencies, as well as viruses and gastrointestinal tract disease.
How are canker sores treated?
Pain and discomfort from canker sores will improve on their own after 4-5 days, and the sores will usually heal on their own within a week or two. Often, a prescription may be given to you by your dentist for a corticosteroid or a special rinse to help with discomfort. Salt water rinses may help as well.
Additionally, a dental soft tissue laser can be utilized as a precise and fast acting method of relieving the pain and shortening the healing time of canker sores. Through biostimulation the light energy of the laser seals off the nerve endings and destroys the virus. This can be done without anesthesia and relief is immediate. This treatment takes only a few minutes, and can even be done at the onset of any symptoms preventing the progression of the lesion into a sore.
After laser treatment, while recurrence is still possible, it is with less frequency and less intensity at the site of treatment.