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Should I Go to the Dentist With a Cold Sore?

Should I Go to the Dentist With a Cold Sore?

 

If you’ve ever cancelled a dental appointment, it was probably because of something like a flat tire, the school calling you about your child being sick, or losing your dental insurance. It probably wasn’t because of a cold sore.

But guess what, your cold sore — or fever blister — is highly contagious. It may not seem like that much of a big deal, but it can pose some serious issues when it comes to your dental checkup.

Needless to say, cold sores are no laughing matter when it comes to visiting your dentist.

When a fever blister is active on your mouth, it’s almost never a good idea to have a dental visit on the very same day. The next time your dentist’s office calls to confirm your checkup, let them know if you have one of these sores…because you may just have to cancel the appointment.

Why it’s Dangerous

Why does your dentist care if you have a fever blister on your mouth? You might be thinking, “the only person who is bothered by a cold sore is me.”

Well, not necessarily.

Active cold sores carry a live virus inside of them, that could potentially be spread during your dental appointment. If a blister is active, there’s even a risk of the virus getting spread into your eye during treatment. When something this serious happens, it could even cost you your eyesight; it’s not something that your dentist wants to gamble on.

In other rare situations, the virus can be spread to your dentist, hygienist, or the assistant. Even though “universal precautions” are used, there’s a chance that you could touch your mouth and then touch something that someone else will touch, thereby transferring the live virus. If your dentist’s glove happens to get punctured, or even if you share a pen, the virus can cause serious infections on their hands, preventing them from being able to work.

For your dentist, fever blisters are one of the top reasons why they would actually want their patients to cancel an appointment. It’s just not worth the risk.

At What Point Can You Keep Your Dental Appointment?

Dental staff will want to see you after your cold sore blisters have scabbed or crusted over. At this point, the viral exposure is no longer a risk, and the sore is on its way out. On average, a typical cold sore can take 7 to 10 days to fully go away. Maybe your ulcer has flared up several days in advance, and you know that it will be well into the healing phase before your dental visit. If so, it’s ok to keep your appointment!

Feel a Cold Sore Popping Up? Plan Ahead

Most people can tell if they are about to have a cold sore flare up. You likely feel a burning or tingling sensation on a specific part of your lips.  Once this happens, it’s time to check the calendar. How many days is it until your dental appointment? Sure, you scheduled it months in advance. But if you’re going to be in the midst of an active cold sore when you show up for your visit, your dentist will be asking you to reschedule.

If you have enough time for the cold sore to heal, it’s ok to keep your appointment. But if it’s two or three days out, you need to go ahead and cancel the visit — be sure to tell the office why — and give your dentist time to find someone else to fill your spot.

Some Dentists Treat Cold Sores

Catch your cold sore early enough, and you could possibly reduce the time you have one by as much as 50%. How? By seeing a dentist who offers laser cold sore treatments.

Soft tissue lasers can speed up recovery time so that you don’t have to go as long with an unsightly sore. The key is to call your dentist immediately: that is, as soon as you start to feel the flare up. At this point, the cold sore blister isn’t in its contagious stage, so it’s safe for your dentist to see you. It’s also the key time to use a dental laser on your lip, to interfere with the viral flare-up, so that the blister goes away in half the time as normal.

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