Balmy days ahead

Feb. 1, 2009
Cold sores and blisters on the lips become more prevalent during extreme cold or hot weather.

by Karen Kaiser, RDH
[email protected]

Cold sores and blisters on the lips become more prevalent during extreme cold or hot weather. Licking the lips offers immediate and gratifying wetness, but the lips are thin-layered, and retaining adequate moisture is difficult. Chapped lips left untreated are not only uncomfortable and unsightly, but also prone to cracking, crusting, and bleeding. These conditions challenge dental professionals to carry out treatment comfortably without further irritating the lips. Fortunately, there are preventive actions to avoid dry lips and avert those painful conditions. Protecting the lips both in and out of the dental chair requires products that soothe and shield.

One simple solution is regularly applying lip balm. Keeping the lips supple and soft avoids dryness. One step for dental professionals to consider when applying petroleum products to the lips is the integrity of gloves. When petroleum comes in contact with gloved hands, the petroleum-based products degrade the material and may permeate the gloves, compromising the ability of the latex to offer protection.

A solution is to offer patients a preferred balm to use in the office. Many do not contain petroleum derivatives and can be special ordered for the dental practice to use as a moisturizer and a marketing tool. These customized lip care promotions can come with imprinted office information, and then dispensed to patients for use after treatment. All Dental ProdX Company has a mineral oil-free conditioner called Lip Satin as part of their spa dentistry line. Lip Satin is vanilla scented and available in a lipstick twist tube.

OraLabs offers mini-balms called Lip Naturals that are petroleum-free. Lip Naturals have aloe vera and vitamin E, along with other soothing ingredients in their cherry, citrus, or vanilla bean formulas. These mini-sticks come in an order of 100, in a candy jar type of display, and are good for patients with postdentistry dryness.

Balm for cold sores

Besides dry lips, many patients experience irritated spots of bubbly eruptions caused from fever blisters and cold sores. These are unsightly and painful. Cold sores generally occur on the outside of the mouth, while canker sores are inside the mouth. Natural lip medicaments that help to immediately moisturize speed healing and do not cause a raw, burning sensation. Applying products such as LipClear with Lysine+ from Quantum are effective on cold sores. The Lysine Coldstick can even be worn underneath lipstick.

Accidentally catching a patient’s lip or cheek with a sharp instrument or inadvertently dripping etchant on the lips can cause pain. To avoid this, lips could use a protective covering during hygiene procedures.

When performing sealant placement, prophies, or periodontal therapies, consider the benefit of using a lip protector. These are great for providing a wider, more accessible working field, which gives the clinician an enhanced (lip isolated) field.

Ivoclar Vivadent Company offers OptraGate, flexible mesh that is easily placed during hygiene treatment. Premier Dental has a ComfortView retractor, which is autoclavable and has replaceable comfort cushions.

When lips are subject to the extreme, they need safeguarding. Avoid licking the lips, and wear lip balm to seal moisture in and promote healing. Use lip therapies to protect lips both in and out of the office.

The author did not receive compensation for mentioned products.