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What Is Herpetic Gingivostomatitis?

Hermetic gingivostomatitis is a viral infection that affects the oral tissues and lips. It’s most common initial outbreak affects children under 5, but can occur in both youth and adulthood. The virus that causes herpetic gingivostomatitis is herpes virus simplex type 1 (HVS1.) There are two main types of the herpes virus: type 1 affecting the mouth, eyes and face, and type 2 affecting the genitals and lower half of the body. By age 35, it is estimated that up to 90% of the population will test positive for HSV1, and 50% of those people have exhibited reactivation of symptoms.

What Causes It? 

The cause of gingivostomatitis is a virus called herpes simplex type 1. Transmission of the virus occurs through oral secretions and saliva. Examples of transmission are sharing utensils, kissing, and children putting unclean hands or objects in their mouths. Reactivation of the virus can be caused by general illness, stress, fatigue and immunosuppression. 

What Are The Symptoms?

The symptoms of initial infection with the HSV1 are fever, general feeling of fatigue, oral blisters and lesions, red puffy gums, irritability and loss of appetite. The initial infection can even cause mild necrosis of gum tissue. The virus lays dormant in a facial nerve (typically the trigeminal ganglia along the jaw) until reactivation. Reactivation of the HSV1 causes cold sores and fever blisters. Reactivation of HSV1 into herpes labialis can be frequent for some people and infrequent for others. 

Treatment Of Herpetic Gingivostomatitis

The treatment for herpetic gingivostomatitis is rest and time. If there is pain, a mild pain relief medication can be used. Typically, the virus and its associated symptoms will go away on their own in a week or less. Treatment for a cold sore/fever blister includes over-the-counter anti-viral medication, pain relief medication, lip balms and stress-relieving techniques. In all cases, hydration is essential and helps speed up healing. 

If you believe your child may be experiencing symptoms of herpetic gingivostomatitis, or you have any questions about the herpes simplex virus, we encourage you to contact our office today to schedule an appointment.