You scheduled your routine dentist appointment months ago and now you have a sore on your lip or in your mouth. You’re unsure if you should still go to your appointment or reschedule for a later date. Before you head on in, here are some things to know about cold and canker sores….

Cold Sores

Cold sores are often referred to as fever blisters. These are caused when the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1) forms an infection around the border of the lips. These usually last about week and in some cases can appear on other parts of your face and body. The virus is easily spread through physical contact or bodily fluids. Many people carry the virus without visible symptoms. Cold sore outbreaks are the result of a genetic component and can be triggered through a fever, stress, or excessive sun exposure. While manageable, HSV-1, cannot be cured. There are antiviral creams that can be prescribed to you by a doctor. These will shorten the span of the outbreak and over-the-counter creams can reduce your symptoms.

For most, symptoms include a tingling sensation or feeling as if your skin or the around your mouth is burning and itching. Before blisters appear, you may notice swelling or reddening. Soon after you’ll see the appearance of blisters which will become a cold sore. The sore will scab over in time. Once the scab falls off, the cold sore has healed. HSV-1 is contagious but it is rarely dangerous.

Cold sore cases that may require a visit to a doctor…

  • Length of Time – A cold sore that lasts longer than a week without scabbing
  • Serverity of Sore – Your cold sore limits or prohibits you from speaking or swallowing
  • Fever – A fever accompanies your cold sore
  • Mulitple Sores – You have more than one outbreak

Canker Sores

Unlike fever blisters, canker sores are located on the inside of your mouth and can vary in size. There are multiple causes… injury or stress, vitamin deficiencies, allergies, etc. These may appear on your gums, the inside of your cheeks or lips, on your tongue, or even the roof of your mouth. Canker sores can hang around for up to two weeks. Smaller ones will go away quicker and without any intervention while larger canker sores may cause more pain and require over-the-counter creams or gels or a prescription.

Cold Sores vs Canker Sores

While these two are often compared since they look similar and are painful, they are quite different. Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus while canker sores have several contributing factors. HSV-1 is contagious but canker sores are not. And cold sores are found on the face, typically around the mouth while canker sores only form on the inside of the mouth.

Should I Reschedule my Dentist Appointment?

Most dentist will ask if you have had any cold sores or fevers prior to your visit as this is discouraged. Cold sores come from an incredibly contagious virus. Dentists and their assistants risk spreading the highly contagious HSV-1 virus to other patients. Until your cold sore has scabbed over, the virus is still active and can be easily passed on.

You may be worried about canceling your appointment, if that’s the case, reach out to the office and explain why you’ll need to reschedule. Allow at least one or two weeks until your next appointment to allow yourself some time to heal.

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About Tri-State Family Dentistry

Tri-State Family Dentistry is dedicated to providing the highest quality dental care possible. Being privately owned since 2009, we don’t experience the corporate pressure that other dental practices have to hit certain revenue numbers. You will never be ‘sold’ dentistry at Tri-State Family Dentistry. After we explain your treatment options, you can make your own decisions.