Should I See the Dentist If I Have A Cold Sore?

This is a really frequent question.  With weepy sores on your lips, nose or face, cold sores can be extremely painful. We've taken some information from the Britsh Dental Association to help explain more about this infection.

What are cold sores?

Cold sores are caused by a virus - Herpes simplex virus type 1.  Its one of the most common viruses (by adulthood up to 90% of us will have antibodies to it) and its spread by contact with the sore and infected saliva. The virus can lie dormant for years - only appearing as a cold sore when something provokes it. Illness, stress, hormonal change and sun exposure can trigger it. People usually feel a tenderness, tingling or burning before the sore appears - initially as a blister which then crusts over.

Are Cold Sores Infectious?

The Herpes simplex virus is highly infectious and easily transmitted. All stages of the infection are contagiuos, although blisters are much more infectious than other stages. Manipulation of the face and mouth tissues (such as might occur at your dental appointment) can worsen the condition and cause the wound to break down and bleed. Spread of the virus to other areas of the skin can cause new wound sites. Infection of the eye is a rare but serious complication.

Should I wait?

We would always suggest that, if you can, you wait until your cold sore has healed before you come and see us. We don't want to cause you more discomfort and if your sore bleeds there is the risk of spreading the infection to other parts of your mouth. Dental treatment can cause recurrent herpes in the soft tissue around your teeth and even after your sore has started to subside, long and coplex dental treatment (such as root canal treatment) can reactivate it. There is also a small risk of spreading the virus to your treating team here.

If you have a cold sore and would like some advice, use our BOOKING FORM or call us on Cheltenham 01242 512444.