WHAT IS A COLD SORE?
A cold sore, also known as a fever blister or recurrent herpes labialis, is caused by the reactivation of a virus called HSV-1. It is typically seen as a cluster of small blisters which quickly rupture to form small ulcers. Over time, the ulcerations extend to the skin around the mouth and become covered with a crusting or scab.
Many lesions are commonly preceded by an itching, burning or tingling sensation. The lesions are often painful and can come back on a regular basis.
The lesions begin quickly, and can be triggered by exposure to sunlight, local trauma, stress, or a decreased immune system. The blister and ulcer stages of the infection are contagious and usually heal within 7-10 days.
WHAT IS A CANKER SORE?
A canker sore, also known as an aphthous ulcer, is an autoimmune response which damages the skin inside the mouth. The ulcer appears as a white or yellow center with a red border, and can be seen on the inside of the lips or cheeks, on or underneath the tongue, and on the back of the throat.
Canker sores can vary in size, from small (less than half of a centimeter) to large. They are usually associated with physical or emotional stress, become painful, and commonly come back in multiple areas.
HOW DOES LASER TREATMENT WORK?
Without any injections to numb the area, the laser heats the lesion in order to kill the virus and stimulate your body’s healing potential. The laser does not touch the skin. The heat is controlled by keeping the tip of the laser several millimeters away from the tissue, taking care not to overheat the ulcer.
Treatment lasts about 15 minutes, and most patients feel better immediately after treatment!
WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT AFTER TREATMENT?
Most patients feel immediate relief after laser treatment, and do not require another treatment. The time that it takes for the ulcer to heal shortens when compared to no treatment.
Cold sores can come back, but laser treatment can lengthen the time in between break outs. Sores can be retreated, and over time, may not come back!
CAN THE LASER TREAT OTHER SORES?
Laser treatment may be able to help similar sores in or around the mouth. Other sores in the mouth that are painful, white, or red may be treated similarly. Treatment may be indicated after a consultation with your dental provider.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I HAVE A COLD OR CANKER SORE?
EARLY TREATMENT IS THE BEST TREATMENT!
Cold sores and canker sores are best treated at the beginning stages. If treated early, a cold sore may not even create a blister or ulcer. If you feel an itching, tingling, burning or numb sensation associated with the sore, this is the early sign of a cold sore.
We understand that early treatment is the best. If you feel that you have the beginnings of a cold sore, call the dental office of Dr. Salartash at (703) 745-5496 as soon as possible, and we will do our best to see you within 24 hours. In most cases, we can see you the same day!
If your cold or canker sore is ulcerated, laser treatment can still be beneficial to speed healing and decrease pain. Once the sore has created a scab or crust, laser treatment is no longer effective.