Cold sores, or fever blisters, are a result of HSV-1 (herpes simplex virus) living inside you. They flare up for many different reasons. They can be caused by everything from stress to hot weather. But, is it possible to get cold sores from getting dental work done?
We tend to think of the dentist as a safe and sterile place for the health of our mouths. Unfortunately, if your dentist isn’t taking proper precautions to protect their patients against HSV-1, it could potentially cause complications. This can lead to cold sores after getting fillings, teeth polished, a root canal, tooth extraction, and other dental treatments.
For some people, going to the dentist can cause a lot of stress. If you’re prone to getting cold sores, you shouldn’t have to worry about an outbreak each time you need dental work. The good news is that there are precautions your dentist can take. And there are also some good OTC treatments that will clear up cold sores.
There are a couple of different risk factors for cold sores during a dental procedure. In this article, we’ll cover those risks. We’ll also go over how you can work with your dentist to lower them and reduce the possibility of a cold sore resulting from dental work.
Dentists Should Take Antiviral Precautions
If you’re having dental work of any kind, it’s important that your dentist takes the proper medical precautions to ensure the safety of your mouth, and their office. Because HSV-1 is spread so easily, a dental office can be a breeding ground for it if the right preventative steps aren’t taken.
One way to protect yourself is to let your dentist know that you’re prone to cold sores. Even if you’ve only had one flare-up in your life, you’re susceptible. If your dentist knows you’re at risk, they can take precautions to protect you throughout the procedure.
If you’re worried about getting a cold sore, tell your dentist ahead of time. By letting them know far enough ahead of your appointment, they may be able to prescribe some antiviral medications for you. Then, you can begin taking them long enough before your appointment to be protected.
Of course, it’s also important that you trust your dental office to take daily precautions. Everything should be completely sterile and clean at all times. HSV-1 can be passed easily from person to person, and even through objects. If you’re not 100% confident in your dentist’s preventative practices, you may want to look elsewhere.
Can You Get Fever Blisters from Trauma to the Mouth?
Can dental work cause cold sores? Yes. But, it’s typically the trauma of the work that causes the flare up, and usually isn’t the dentist’s fault. Unfortunately, even taking the proper precautions ahead of time can’t always prevent an outbreak.
Cold sores can be triggered by:
In the case of dental work, it’s important to focus on the idea of trauma to the mouth. Even a simple procedure can be too much. If your dentist is using tools to poke around or stretch your lips in any way, it can be a harsh experience for your mouth.
This kind of trauma can lead to a cold sore outbreak once the procedure is over, a day or two later. When your mouth goes through that kind of unexpected work, it can trigger the virus to come to life. This could leave you with a singular cold sore, or a complete outbreak of lesions.
Again, if you know you’re prone to cold sores, work together with your dentist. Let them know ahead of time, and remind them during the procedure. They may be able to use different tools, or simply be more gentle with their work if they know it can prevent a flare up.
Are Cold Sores Preventable?
If you have the herpes simplex virus, cold sores are never 100% preventable. Some people with the virus never experience them, or just get one or two throughout their life. Others are more prone to flare-ups and need to take extra precautions.
In general, there are a few tips you can use every day to protect yourself from outbreaks. Again, they aren’t preventable, but these tips will give you a better chance of avoiding cold sores.
- Avoid any direct contact with someone who is showing signs of a cold sore.
- Never share things like towels, razors, or utensils with anyone.
- Don’t share food or drinks.
- Wash your hands frequently, and practice proper hygiene.
- Stay away from high-stress situations.
- Avoid trauma to the mouth.
When it comes to getting a cold sore from the dentist, the precautions are simple. Talk to your dentist or their assistant ahead of time. Even if you’ve never had a cold sore before, it doesn’t hurt to take preventative measures.
Your dentist may be able to give you an antiviral medication before your appointment. They can also prescribe one after the appointment is over, to continue to work against a virus that may be trying to cause a flare up.
There’s also an FDA-approved product that you can apply before and after getting dental work done called the Virulite cold sore machine.
Make sure your dentist knows your concerns so that they can be gentle in their work. Depending on the type of procedure needed, dental trauma may be unavoidable. But, when a doctor or hygienist takes special care with your mouth, it helps to reduce the risk of painful lesions.
How to Avoid an Outbreak After Seeing the Dentist
Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent cold sores completely if you have the herpes simplex virus. However, by taking the proper precautions, and making sure your dentist knows your concerns, you may be able to fight back against a potential cold sore outbreak.
Never avoid dental work due to a fear of getting cold sores. Although painful and unsightly, cold sores are quite common. Proper oral care is important. The health benefits of taking care of your mouth greatly outweigh the risk of a cold sore flare up. And you can always apply a formula, such as HERP-B-GONE cream, to the area to keep the healing time to a minimum.