Can Cold Sores Be Healed With Laser Dentistry?

Although most people think of cold sores as being caused by the herpes virus, the reality is that there are a number of different types of cold sores—many of which can now be healed with the help of laser technology, explains Dr. Robert Kacmacik, a dentist who handles emergency situations at his practice in Hockessin, Delaware.

The first type of cold sore that most people think of when they hear the term is a true herpetic cold sore. Once someone has the herpes virus it will hide in the nerve root around the mouth and come out during times of stress, trauma, or increased sun exposure. When the virus comes out from the nerve, it generally manifests itself into a lesion known as a cold sore. Another type of cold sore that is common among the patients Dr. Kacmacik works with at his practice are aphthous ulcers. Unlike the cold sores caused by the herpes virus, aphthous ulcers are not actually related to a virus. Instead, they come out as a result of severe stress or trauma. Dr. Kacmacik explains that no one really understands why aphthous ulcers  present themselves, but there are a number of options available to treat the problem once the outbreak occurs.

Whether a person is dealing with a herpes lesion or an aphthous ulcer, the outcome is a blister on the face. This blister will eventually pop, and when it does the new skin underneath becomes exposed. Because this skin is not very highly keratinized, it tends to be more tender to the touch. The point when the blister pops is when most people experience pain from their ulcers or lesions, which helps to explain why this is also when people are the most likely to call an emergency dentist for help. Using special soft tissue lasers, dentists like Dr. Kacmacik can essentially cauterize that new skin to ease the pain.

When a dentist uses a soft tissue laser on a patient’s lesion or ulcer, that laser will basically recondition the skin and speed up the process of toughening it up. The soft tissue lasers used by dentists use heat energy to cauterize the top of the lesion so that everything that touches the lesion is not going to make it hurt. Dr. Kacmacik uses the example of a person who takes a layer of skin off of his finger. In a natural setting, it would take some time for that skin to turn back into good, tough skin. If the person used a laser on that skin, however, then the laser could speed up the process of healing and help the person feel better in less time. Although certain medications have been developed to prevent herpetic lesion outbreaks from occurring, Dr. Kacmacik says that soft tissue lasers are the best treatment for making people feel more comfortable once the lesion has already sprung up. And the treatment is something that patients are advised to schedule an appointment for as quickly as possible once the outbreak occurs, since the pain and tenderness of the skin will continue to exist until the procedure has taken place.

*Disclaimer: The information on this website is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your healthcare provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with an appropriate healthcare provider.

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