Cold sores, also known as herpes simplex virus type 1, are familiar to most people – either get them or know of someone that does. They are irritating and annoying.
The cause is the herpes simplex virus, but what stimulates it to erupt where and when it does is not fully known. There are several triggers and for some people there may be a genetic propensity for outbreaks.
The symptoms range from mild to severe depending on the state of your immune system. Even if the symptoms are mild they are embarrassing. The sores will heal on their own in about 2 weeks. Some times recurrent outbreaks may need intervention.
Treatments range from topical creams and ointments to systemic antiviral medications. The antiviral medications all have side effects which may prevent their use in certain situations. The side effects may also be unpleasant.
Lasers offer an alternative treatment. Like the cause of the disease, the beneficial effects of the laser induced healing have not yet been fully determined. Like the other treatments, this will help faster more comfortable healing. Anecdotally, the laser treatment experience has been to prevent future outbreaks or to minimize the outbreaks if they do occur.
Canker sores, or recurrent aphthous stomatitis, are similar to cold sores but their cause is unknown at this time. Compared to cold sores they also are found on different tissues in the mouth. They are not infectious.
Pain is their number one symptom. Surprisingly, the pain they cause is out of proportion to the actual size of the ulcer. The healing time is similar to cold sores as is their tendency to have recurrent out breaks one after the other.
With cankers, they seem to be related to ‘stress’ – mechanical e.g. chewing, dental care e.g. brushing, oral appliances; acidic foods and underlying health issues.
Treatments are similar to cold sores from over –the- counter rinses to prescription medications.
Laser treatment is identical to that for cold sores and helps the healing process. Unlike the cold sores, laser treatment does not prevent out breaks or minimize them if you do get one.
Ask your dentist if laser treatment is right for you.