• Can Cold Sores Harm My Teeth?

    Can cold sores harm my teeth?

    There is no medical evidence that points to cold sores harming your teeth or causing other dental problems.

    There are some anecdotal stories of patients who have had “cold sores” inside their mouths. In these cases, the mouth sores have been diagnosed as canker sores (for more information on mouth sores see the FAQ “What are mouth sores?”).

    So what is a Cold Sore?

    Let’s start with the basics. Having a cold doesn’t cause cold sores.

    Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV)-1. A virus that is spread through contact and once you’ve contracted the virus it remains in your body.

    Cold sores are highly contagious when they break open and the fluid leaks from the open sore. As much as 50% of the world’s population have the herpes simplex virus, which makes this condition very common.

    Even if you do carry the virus, it doesn’t necessarily mean you will develop a cold sore.

    Right now, there is no cure for this virus. What you can do is treat the outbreaks to reduce their severity, prevent the sores from erupting and take care not to pass on and infect your family members or friends.

    What is it like to have a Cold Sore?

    The first time a cold sore presents it is common for it to be accompanied by flu-like symptoms (which is why they are call Cold Sores) and can be painful.

    Cold sores tend to reoccur when you have a fever, are fatigued, run down, menstruating or from exposure to the sun. A cold sore will scab over until the body can heal them. This will often take about a week or more to resolve when untreated.

    Being a herpes virus, cold sores will appear as a cluster of raised blisters outside the mouth, on or around the lips. They can turn up under the nose and occasionally even under the chin. Always external to the mouth.

    What do I do if I get a Cold Sore?

    On the tingling emergence of a cold sore, common advice say to treat the area with an ice pack as soon as you notice a cold sore coming up.  Over the counter medications can help with the pain and your doctor can prescribe you an anti-viral medication to reduce healing time.

    Once you develop cold sores the best way to cope with them is prevention. Working out what triggers the emergence of a cold sore will help you manage them.

    If exposure to the sun brings them out then wearing sunscreen on the areas around your mouth where you usually get cold sores will help prevent an outbreak.  If stress triggers cold sore outbreaks then finding ways of managing your anxiety levels can help avoid a cold sore appearing.

    Since this virus is highly contagious, when a cold sore appears you must avoid sharing drinking glasses and be careful not to touch the blister then touch other parts of your body. Kissing is best left until the blister clears up.

    If you have a dentist appointment when you have a cold sore, then rescheduling is best. Your mouth and the area around your lips will be more sensitive than usual, so you won’t want to be sitting in the dentist’s chair with your mouth open anyway.

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