What are cold sores?
Cold sores are blisters around the mouth and nose, caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV).
Cold sores will get better by themselves except in cases where they get infected by bacteria, occur in the eye or become widespread in people whose immune system is suppressed.
Should I visit the dentist when I have an active cold sore?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) , we should only see patients with active herpetic lesions (cold sores) when they require emergency treatment for dental conditions or treatment of the cold sore lesions themselves- did you know we have a laser that can help your sores heal faster? No other treatments are recommended whilst lesions are active.
Why is delaying dental treatment recommended when a cold sore is present?
The spreading of this disease in the dental setting is well documented. The vesicular fluid has the most condensed virus and it diminishes as the blisters rupture. Viral shedding continues from even a healing lesion which is asymptomatic or can be spread when blisters are not present, particularly in saliva. There is also evidence of transmission of HSV to health-care workers from patients and from dental workers to patients. Unfortunately gloves and glasses are not a complete protection against this virus. So to help keep your dental experience comfortable and stop the spread of the virus we recommend postponing your appointment, unless you catch the sores early and would like us to treat the sores themselves.
Treatment of Cold Sores at the Dentist with a Laser
The use of painless dental laser therapy can reduce the severity and duration of cold sore outbreaks. Unlike other cold sore treatments, like creams or ointments, lasers get to the root of the problem. They destroy the herpes simplex virus that actually causes cold sores. Laser treatment as soon as you feel the symptoms of a cold sore can in some cases prevent the sore from developing. The outbreaks can be minimised so they do not occur as often, and the symptoms can be alleviated to provide more comfort for the individual.
For more information visit:
Centers for Disease Control and Infection: Herpes Fact Sheet