Cold sores and fever blisters are two names for one annoying ailment. These small groups of blisters can form inside your mouth or lips but more frequently show up around your mouth and around your lips and nose. They can not only be painful but embarrassing too. They generally last only a few days but can persist for weeks in some cases.
This means getting a cold sore and braces can be even more painful, as the sores could be rubbed and inflamed by your appliance. Even sores on the outside can add to your self-image challenges while wearing braces. Continue reading to learn about cold sores, how to spot them, and what you can do.
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What Causes Cold Sores?
Cold sores most commonly result from a minor viral infection. They form around your lips or on the inside of your mouth after coming in contact with the virus. After a while, the sores open and scab over, which signals the healing process.
They are most commonly caused by a virus known as herpes simplex virus (type 1) or HSV-1. It can spread from person to person through kissing, close contact, or any shared oral items such as lip gloss, lipstick, utensils, or cups. It’s often hard to pinpoint the origins of the infection, since sores do not develop for at least 20 days after contact.
In addition to the sores, you may experience any of these uncomfortable symptoms:
- Low-grade fever
- Persistent headache
- Itching or burning
- Swollen lymph nodes
Since these are non-conclusive symptoms that could be related to any number of conditions, including other types of infections, it’s important to speak with our doctor about any symptoms you may have.
In addition to a viral infection, cold sores can be caused by diet changes or a sunburn.
Considerations for Patients Wearing Braces
Patients with braces can contract the virus that causes cold sores and inflame an already uncomfortable situation. On top of that, self-image troubles with braces won’t likely be improved with an infection of cold sores.
People with braces need to be aware of their contagious condition so they don’t spread it to others. Make sure to wash your hands while adjusting your braces, flossing, or touching the area around your mouth to contain the virus.
Your braces do not cause cold sores, however, an outbreak of cold sores can be worsened by stress or certain foods. Make sure to follow your doctor’s diet protocols while wearing braces and avoid super sugary and acidic foods. This will not only keep your braces clean, but will also help you prevent and deal with cold sores.
What to Do About a Cold Sore
The discomfort of cold sores can be treated in several ways, depending on the severity of the outbreak, including:
- A doctor’s prescribed antiviral medication, which can be obtained if cold sores do not heal on their own
- OTC creams that reduce cold sore pain
- Topicals that contain aloe vera
- A cold compress to reduce inflammation
Ask your doctor about supplements like lysine, which may provide a way to treat stubborn cold sores naturally. While cold sores have no cure, the discomfort they cause is treatable and the sores should disappear in under a week.
Cold Sores vs Canker Sores
Many people confuse cold sores with canker sores. However, they are not the same ailment. Cold sores are caused by a viral infection while canker sores are a physical injury to the inside of your mouth. They can be caused by a sharp tooth, by biting your lip, or by your braces.
Especially when you are first getting used to your braces, the brackets may rub against your lips and cause canker sores, which are rough, white blisters on the inside of your lips that usually last about a week. They do not appear on the outside of your lips like cold sores and are not caused by a virus.
Cold sores and canker sores do have one thing in common, however, which is that highly acidic foods can make the condition worse by inflaming the area around your mouth. Consider your orthodontist’s diet recommendations as doubly important when dealing with either type of sore.
Choose Reese Orthodontics
If you’re an adult who is considering braces, you need professional advice on your treatment and payment options. For orthodontic treatments in Charleston, SC, Reese Orthodontics offers the latest technology and treatment plans. Our advanced and comfortable orthodontic treatments can be customized to suit your needs. A consultation with Reese Orthodontics includes scans, a comprehensive exam, and a conversation with the orthodontist to discover which treatment options are right for you.
Schedule an appointment with us today to stay ahead of your oral health and receive the best possible treatment in your area.