Why it is Worth Going to the Dentist for Cold Sores

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Almost everyone at one time or another suffers from cold sores (aka fever blisters), which are caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). Sometimes confused with canker sores (mouth ulcers), both of them can be dormant and flare up when the individual is under severe stress of any kind, which weakens the immune system. Cold sores usually appear on the lips, but can be found anywhere on the face. Be sure not to touch them and, if you do, wash your hands.

According to WebMD, you contract cold sores when you come into contact with an infected person’s skin or body fluids (such as from kissing or using the same cup), which leave behind fluid-filled sores that last one to two weeks. Unfortunately, after this outbreak and treatment, the virus can hide and never be completely eliminated.

Because your dentist is a specialist in the health of the mouth, she or he is a vital expert to diagnose and assess the proper treatment for cold sores (as well as a variety of other oral disorders, from periodontal or gum disease to oral cancer).  It is important to have a full dental examination twice a year even when you are not aware of any dental-medical problem because everything from small cavities to gums that are becoming detached from the teeth they support can be caught early before they become crises. 

If you have been diagnosed as having cold sores or the symptoms match, you can manage the pain with over-the-counter antiviral gels and creams, like Docosanol (Zovirax and Denavir require a prescription).

Preventing Cold Sores by Lowering Stress

Cold sores appear during times of stress. The American Institute of Stress notes that all kinds of stress, whether family personal crises and problems at work to medical issues and financial difficulties lower the effectiveness of the immune system.

Oral health often suffers under stress because anxiety and depression can accompany such crises, making it hard to keep up a disciplined program of brushing and flossing. Two-thirds of people who have clinical depression reported that their oral health was fair or poor. Poor dental health also reduces saliva, which plays an important role in fighting harmful oral bacteria.

Depression often leads people to eat “comfort foods” that are unhealthy, such as sweets and refined carbohydrates (like candy, donuts, white bread and pasta, and pizza crust), which makes the body’s immune system less capable of mounting a strong defense against viruses.

Stress often leads to tension that results in grinding one’s teeth while sleeping, damaging the tops of teeth. This can be repaired with dental crowns and further harm prevented by having your dentist create a personalized mouthguard you can wear while sleeping.

Tension and TMJ

Tension can also cause the temporomandibular (TMJ) hinges that connect the lower jaw to the skull to become dislocated (you can feel them move if you hold your fingers just in front of the lower earlobes and open and close your mouth). TMJ Disorder’s symptoms include difficulty opening and closing the mouth, a clicking sound when you do, sore muscles on the face, neck, or back, and difficulty chewing comfortably. Your dentist can help you relax the muscles of the jaw and move the TMJ back into its proper position.

Call Beverly Hills Dentistry today to set an appointment for a full physical examination and an update on how to keep your oral health in good condition. We serve patients across the Los Angeles metro area, including Beverly Hills, Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village, Santa Monica, and more.

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