When people think about dentists, teeth tend to be the first and only thing that come to mind. Dentists , however, are responsible for the health and wellbeing of your mouth as a whole. This means that conditions like oral herpes would be something you may want to talk about with your dentist as well as your doctor. The question is – how much do you really know about oral herpes?
Firstly, What is Herpes?
Oral herpes is caused by the HSV-1 virus. During its active times, otherwise known as outbreaks, it will cause painful cold sores on the lips and skin around the mouth and it can even infect the gums as well.
After the initial infection, the virus travels on the trigeminal nerve in order to reach different parts of the face. It eventually reaches the trigeminal ganglion in the brain, where it will sit until it gets reactivated again. When it does, it travels back down the nerve to the original site of infection and produces cold sores.
What Are The Stages and Triggers?
Oral herpes is a lifelong condition. The stages of an outbreak begin with a tingling or itching sensation without cold sores. Eating and drinking may then become painful when redness and swelling occur, followed by the eruption of blisters. Throughout the remaining breakout, the blisters will form into yellow ulcers followed by a crusty, cracking area that may or may not include minor bleeding. The outbreak ends with the skin reducing itself to redness and swelling once again before looking normal.
There are several triggers for the outbreak of painful sores, including fevers or colds, stress, surgery or injury to the area, sunburns, menstrual periods, and certain medications.
Who is Most Affected By Herpes?
Of course, everyone infected will have the annoyance and embarrassment of cold sores, but they do not limit life activity. The disease will affect infants, elderly, and those with HIV/AIDS the most negatively.
What About Cures, Treatments, and Prevention?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for the HSV-1 virus. Treatment is available, and while it may help with pain, it will not speed up the healing process of an outbreak.
The first key is not to get the virus in the first place. Change your toothbrush every three to six months. In order to make your toothbrushes last longer, have several that you can alternate. Avoid sharing toothbrushes, cups, or utensils with people who are already infected.
Even when you or someone else is infected, the virus can still spread in its dormancy. It is important that you tell your dentist, like those at West Gate Dental, if you have herpes in order to make sure you have the best treatment possible, even if it means rescheduling a visit during an outbreak in order to minimize the risk of passing HSV-1 to others.