Cold sores are not pretty to look at.
They are uncomfortable, painful, embarrassing, and hard to get rid of.
There are ways to help our dental patients alleviate these unsightly sores and prevent the pain from cancer sores.
Let’s take a deeper look at the cause of these ugly mouth sores and how dental professionals can be an advocate for treatment and prevention.
What is a Canker Sore?
- Canker sores are a common viral infection
A cold sore is a group of tiny, painful blisters caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). They’re also called fever blisters or herpes simplex labialis.
Up to 90% of people around the world experience at least one form of HSV.Dental professionals and especially dental hygienists are great advocates for their patients.
Patients see their dental hygienist routinely and dental professionals review medical histories. We are great messengers to educate or patients in prevention of canker sores and a lot more!
What causes Canker Sores?
Below is a list of triggers for these awful outbreaks:
- Overexposure to the sun
- Exposure to cold temperatures
- Upper respiratory infections and fever
- Dental services: gum treatment, fillings, etc.
- Hormonal changes
- Compromised immune system
- Certain foods: acidic foods, certain fruit, and chocolate
When we see a medical history and the patient documents frequent cold sores, canker sores and herpetic lesions, we can now advise our patient about ways to help prevent these ugly, painful, mouth sores.
Below is a list of recommendations we can make for our patients who do suffer from canker sores:
- Antiviral medications such as valacyclovir (Valtrex) or acyclovir (Zovirax).
- Lysine, an essential amino acid is found in protein. It isn’t produced in your body, so you must consume it through an oral supplement or diet.
Common foods rich in lysine include:
- parmesan cheese
Lysine is essential for our health; it helps with calcium absorption and collagen formation. Many people many not consume enough lysine in their diet. Athletes and/ or vegans may need to consume more.
- Lemon Balm
The antiviral properties of lemon balm, also known as Melissa officinalis, may help reduce the redness or discoloration and swelling associated with a blister, or protect against future infections — at least according to a 1994 study.
Use a lip balm with at least 1 percent lemon balm. Or, as an alternative, a compress made of a lemon balm infusion (tea) may provide similar benefits.
- Avoid acidic foods such as citrus fruits and even an abundance or frequent chocolate
- Red LED Light Therapy
Hint: Celebrity Smiles LED Red Light can be helpful! Keep reading to discover how. You can help your patients with this simple preventive technology.
- Wash your hands often and don’t rub your eyes
- Replace your toothbrush often
- Don’t kiss someone who has a cold sore or use that person’s utensils, towels, or razors
- Apply sunscreen to your face and lips before prolonged exposure to the sun
- Replace your lipstick or lip balm often
- How to Recognize a Cold Sore Outbreak
If your patient had chicken pox, a herpes virus, or anything similar, they are always at risk for these unsightly sores.
Let’s help our patients recognize the stages of a cold sore and help them put a halt to the progression of these unsightly sores.
Below is a list of what to look for when a cold sore is beginning:
Tingling is the first sign of a cold sore and we can educate our patients that this is the most important time to do all that they can to prevent the unsightly sore.
This is the best time for your patients to call your office and on that day they come to your office for a very short appointment and doctor or a laser certified hygienist can use a soft-tissue, diode laser to ZAP the early stages of this canker sore.
Many offices when introducing the soft-tissue laser for prevention of a full-blown-ugly cancer sore educate their patients to call immediate and come in that day for a quick appointment to ZAP the red area that will soon be a canker sore.
You will find that doing this (in the beginning) at no-cost to your patients is a great practice builder!
If you do decide to charge for the ZAP of a cancer sore, the soft-tissue, diode laser does need to be completed at the first signs of a cancer sore and it takes maybe 15 minutes in your office to ZAP the canker sore.
The charge will be minimal and it’s recommended you charge less than $60. Many offices charge approximately $20-30 for a quick ZAP.
It truly is a great marketing tool and helps your patients out in a big say!
Also, recommend your patient use an anti-viral cream such as Abreva. This cream will need to be reapplied frequently and will cost almost as much as the laser treatment at a dental office.
The ZAP of your laser plus the addition of an anti-viral cream makes a big difference in the beginning stages of a canker sore outbreak.
People with Crohns Disease, auto-immune diseases, patients undergoing chemotherapy are known to constantly deal with cold sores so let all your patients know you can easily help them at the first sign of a canker sore.
Your patients will be your raving fans!
One stage of cold sores is the blistering stage.
Blisters occur from day two to four of the canker sore outbreak.
These blisters can fill with fluids to make the skin around it swollen and red. Blisters can occur inside the cheeks, nose, and lips, as well as the soft tissues inside your mouth and even your tongue.
The reason for blisters occur is because the immune system is working hard to heal the virus. During this stage, you want to continue using an anti-viral topical cream.
Educate your patients to now squeeze these blisters. Touching and squeezing the blisters will cause transmission of the virus, it will exacerbate the sores and can slow down the healing time.
Oozing occurs about day 4-5 of the canker sore outbreak.
This is when the cold sore is most contagious and painful. The blister can burst during this stage.
This can lead to a red round area of inflammation around the affected area.
Scabbing happens around days 5-8, This is when the canker sore dries out and a scab will form. The scabs can feel itchy, they can crack open and shrink.
Cracking will lead to the cold sore bleeding. Other symptoms that may occur include burning and itching.
Healing starts between days 8 to 10.
The time it takes to heal a canker sore depends on how bad the outbreak is and if you’re your patient began early preventive measures to halt the cold sore.
Canker Sores are Contagious
Oner reason a family of patients all experience cold sores is because they are contagious.
Parents who experience cold sores and kiss their babies are literally transferring the virus to their child.
It is also possible for the cold sore to spread if someone touches the cold sore and then touches another mucous membrane such as the mouth, eyes, or nose.
Cross contamination of the virus can occur when two people share some personal bathroom items, like a toothbrush, a razor or drinking from the same glass. These are all things that when shared with a person who has a cold sore they will spread the virus to another person.
As dental professionals we are advocates for our patients. Prevention is key and as dental professionals we are armed with the tools to heal and even prevent these unsightly canker sores that many of our patient’s experience.
Dental Practice Solutions offers a Blue/Red LED Light to dental offices that not only helps BOOST whiter teeth but the red LED light has shown great results for people who have various mouth sores.
If patients wear the Red LED light mouthpiece for ten minutes, 2-3 times a week, they are less likely to experience mouth sores from canker sores, that are caused by a virus, chemotherapy, and auto-immune diseases.
Using a diode, soft-tissue laser to ZAP these ugly sores works well and your patients can leave with an LED Red Light to continue preventing a full outbreak of this ugly sore.
Studies have shown that phototherapy, either by LASER and/or LED, is an effective therapeutic modality to promote healing of skin wounds.
Check out our reseller page to order this wholesale LED Light and help your patients prevent canker sores. This RED LED light helps heal oral inflammation, soreness after dental treatment, dental sores, etc. The LED Light mouthpiece can also BOOST whiter teeth.
Find out how to use this in your dental office here.