Posted by Dr. Julie Boudreault On 1-02-2019
If you suffer from canker or cold sores, you know how painful and unsightly they can be. Treatments take forever and often seem like they haven’t really accomplished anything. Advances in oral care have introduced more effective treatments to assist in the healing of these lesions using laser oral technology. Laser treatments can heal soft tissue and painful lesions, such as cold and canker sores. They preserve tissue, lessen bleeding and allow tissue to heal more quickly, freeing you from the pain and embarrassment of oral lesions.
What is a Canker Sore?Canker sores are lesions that develop in your mouth. They can appear both on the soft tissue of your cheeks and tongue as well as at the base of your gums. They are not visible and so are not as embarrassing as cold sores which appear around the mouth and lips. They are not contagious but can be quite painful which can interfere with eating and sometimes talking.
What are the Symptoms of a Canker Sore?Most canker sores appear as round, sometimes oval, sores. They have a white or yellow centre with a red border. You can find them anywhere in the mouth, including the tongue, inside your lips, inside your cheeks, on your soft palate or at the base of your gums. They are painful once they appear and can cause burning and tingling before they completely develop.
What should I do if I have a Canker Sore?
You should speak to our office if you have:
- Large canker sores
- Recurring sores and frequent outbreaks
- Sores lasting two weeks or more
- Sores that extend into the lips
- Unmanageable pain
- Extreme difficulty eating, speaking or drinking
- High fever when you have sores
What Causes a Canker Sore?
The cause of canker sores is unclear, but there are possible triggers, including:
- A minor injury to your mouth, such as a cheek bite
- Sodium lauryl sulfate in toothpaste and mouthwash
- Food sensitivities
- Not enough vitamin B-12, zinc, folate or iron
- An allergic response to oral bacteria
- H. pylori
- Menstrual hormone levels
- Sharp tooth surfaces or dental appliances
- Celiac disease
- Inflammatory bowel diseases
- A faulty immune system
- A family history of canker sores
How can I Prevent Canker Sores?
You can reduce the frequency of cankers with these tips:
- Avoid common food triggers, such as salty snacks, spicy food, and acidic fruits, as well as, in some cases, dairy and eggs
- Avoid vitamin deficiencies by following a healthy diet
- Maintain good oral hygiene habits
- Use a soft toothbrush to avoid damaging your soft tissue
- Avoid toothpaste and mouth rinses with sodium lauryl sulfate
- Speak to us about ways to protect your mouth from damage due to dental work and orthodontics
- Manage stress
What is a Cold Sore?Cold sores are caused by an infection with the herpes simplex virus (HSV). They appear on or around your lips, making them more embarrassing than canker sores. However, they can also appear in other areas, including your nose, cheeks, or fingers. They can last for over a week and will develop a scab in the final phases that eventually falls off. As well, they are contagious and can be spread to others.
What are the Symptoms of a Cold Sore?Cold sores usually begin with a tingling, itching or strange sensation in the area. You will then form a blister. The blister will break and sometimes become oozy before forming a yellow crust or a scab.
What should I do if I have a Cold Sore?
Your first cold sore will tend to be more severe. If you have a particularly large or painful cold sore, you should speak to our office. As well, children can become seriously ill from cold sores, so it is best to call us if you suspect your child has a cold sore. You should also call the office if you have a cold sore as well as:
- AIDS or a weak immune system
- A severe case of eczema
- Your cold sore spreads to other areas or is getting larger
- Your cold sore appears to be infected
What Causes Cold Sores?As already mentioned, cold sores are caused by HSV 1. This virus is spread through contact with others carrying the virus. This can include kissing or even sharing items such as eating utensils, drinks and straws, towels, or razors. They also can be spread by oral sex, which is usually HSV 2. Symptoms can take up to 20 days to appear once you have been in contact with someone carrying the virus. You may get cold sores as late as 20 days after you came into contact with the virus. Cold sores tend to appear in the same area of contact.
There are also triggers that can lead to an outbreak, including:
- Eating certain foods
How do I Prevent Getting Cold Sores?Anyone can get cold sores, however, you can take precautions to avoid contact with someone who does have a cold sore. These precautions include avoiding kissing and oral sex, as well as sharing items that can come into contact with the sore, such as eating utensils, drinks and health and beauty products such as razors, lip balms, makeup, etc. Basically, anything that comes into contact with the sore should not be shared. If you have HSV 1 or 2, you should also avoid spreading the virus with these tips.
Traditional Treatments for Cold and Canker SoresTraditionally, cold sores and cankers were treated with oral and topical medications. These treatments tend to take longer to see results. As well, they can prove to be irritating with many patients suffering from reactions to the medications. In some cases, the treatments can make the sore worse, especially those containing steroids or vitamins.
Laser Treatments for Cold and Canker Sores
Dental laser treatments were introduced in the 1990s, finally offering patients effective relief from cold and canker sores. The treatment is effective for three reasons:
- The laser provides instant pain relief as it deadens the nerve cells around the area.
- The laser triggers biostimulation, increasing collagen formation to increase your natural healing powers.
- The healing process begins within a matter of days.
The Benefits of Laser Treatment for Cold & Canker Sores
Laser treatment for cold and canker sores offers many benefits over traditional treatments, including:
- The treatment is affordable and often covered by insurance
- Pain relief is instant
- Treatment just takes a few minutes
- Cold sore frequency can be reduced
- Cold sore intensity can be reduced in future breakouts
- The treatment is pain-free
- Treatment can be applied as soon as you think you have a cold sore developing to avoid the break-out