Herpes simplex virus and your oral health

How can herpes simplex virus affect your oral health?

The herpes simplex virus has two types. Herpes simplex virus one or HSV-1 causes cold sores and skin infections while Herpes simplex virus two or HSV-2 causes infections in and on the genitals regardless of gender. There are times where HSV-1 can occur in the genitals and times where HSV-2 can occur in other parts of your body.

Those affected with HSV-1 get it during their childhood. It can happen due to close contact with family members, contact with saliva, and contact with nasal secretions from other children. Children who are infected for the first time may get a fever, a sore mouth, red gums, or inflamed gums. Teens who are infected for the first time may have inflamed gums, sore throats, and mouth ulcers. Adults who are infected for the first time may get tonsillitis, a sore throat, or they may even get sores in their mouth.

After you are first infected with herpes, the virus will hide in the nerves near the skin. Some people will be fortunate enough that the virus never returns or reactivates while other people will have reactivations and secondary herpes episodes afterwards. These episodes produce sores or cold sores on your lips. Doctors still have no idea about what causes the herpes virus to reactivate but they think that stress could be a factor. Stress that comes in the form of mental stress, emotional stress, illness, trauma to the lips, sun exposure, and dental treatment could trigger a herpes outbreak.

People with cold sores should avoid non-emergency dental treatment because you could easily spread the herpes virus in the dental office or have trouble opening your mouth during treatment. Sometimes, you may be worried that a visit to the dentist may trigger a cold sore. Some studies show that if you take antiviral medicine before going to the dentist, you will decrease your chances of getting cold sores. You should consider taking medications before you visit your dentist especially if these medications have helped in preventing a cold sore outbreak.

Cytomegalovirus or CMV is type of herpes virus and you may have it without knowing about it. You usually get a sore throat when you are infected and it usually reactivates itself in people with weak immune systems. Sometimes, CMV can cause your salivary glands to swell and some sores to come out your mouth.

People with active CMV could infect dental care personnel so you should avoid any non-urgent dental care as much as possible. You should have your sores biopsied so that CMV can be identified. If the results are positive then you will be referred to physicians for further tests.