Treating Cold Sores and Canker Sores with Lasers?
Cold sores (AKA oral herpes simplex) are viral in nature. Therefore, the lesions are contagious. Once a person contracts the virus, it can lay dormant between outbreaks, which may be triggered by trauma, stress, sunburn, illness, or cold weather. They are found on the lips, gingiva (“gums”), and hard palate, and are traditionally treated by antivirals (e.g. Acyclovir).
Canker sores (AKA recurrent aphthous ulcers) are likely autoimmune mediated, and are NOT contagious. Possible etiological factors include stress/lack of sleep, trauma, immune system reaction, citrus fruit, a deficiency of B12, Iron, or Folic acid, hormonal fluctuations, and allergies (e.g. SLS in most toothpastes!). They are found on the inner lips, tongue, soft palate, floor of mouth, and buccal mucosa (inner cheek), and are traditionally treated by steroids (usually a mouthwash or gel).
So how can a laser help? The laser’s energy destroys the virus particles (of cold sores), dries out the lesions, relieves pain by killing nerve endings, and promotes healing via bio-stimulation from the light. The procedure is quick and painless.
Pain relief is immediate. Healing time of the cold/canker sore will be significantly decreased. The best time to come in for laser treatment of your cold/canker sore is when it is still in the burning/tingling stage. Treatment will be more predictable and effective, and the lesion may never develop. After treatment, both the frequency and intensity of sores will decrease.