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What Older Adults Need to Know About Shingles in the Mouth

What Older Adults Need to Know About Shingles in the Mouth

Best Dentist Pasadena CAWhile shingles is, of course, immediately associated with the chicken pox virus. Many people don’t know that it’s also a member of the Herpes family of viruses — also known as Herpes Foster.

The Herpes family of viruses are epidemic, with an estimated 90% of the American adult population exposed to it. Shingles, including shingles in the mouth, is a common ailment. In fact, according to the CDC, as many as 1 of every 3 people in the U.S. will develop shingles. That’s about 1 million cases a year.

Since shingles is very prevalent, especially in adults over the age of 60, here is some essential information patients need to be aware of.

What Do Shingles Look and Feel Like?

Shingles lesions look a lot like chickenpox lesions — small, clear vesicles that can itch or tingle for the first week and clear up two to four weeks later. Shingles appear primarily on the abdomen, neck, shoulders and face.

The most common symptoms of shingles include:

  • upset stomach
  • fever
  • chills
  • headache and pain

Shingles may also spread to the eyes, contributing to a loss of vision if left untreated.

Shingle in the Mouth

Though less common, shingles can appear in the mouth — and is considered very painful. The complications of shingles in mouth can include heightened pain, mouth sensitivity, difficulty chewing, lack of appetite and an increased risk of oral infections due to open lesions.

How are Shingles in Mouth Treated?

Antiviral medications such as acyclovir, famciclovir and valacyclovir are all used to treat the virus when active. These medications can accelerate the recovery process and are most effective when patients begin a regimen early on in the outbreak. This is part of the reason why a patient who suspects they may have shingles should seek immediate care. Pain relievers may also be recommended to decrease inflammation.

The good news? People who are at greater risk for shingles can be vaccinated for the virus.

Oral Care with Shingles

Patients who have new or healing shingles lesions in the mouth must be careful about home oral care to prevent new oral infections from forming. Antimicrobial products can help keep the mouth clean and facilitate healing.

As always, if you have any questions about conditions that may be happening inside your mouth — we’re available to address your concerns. Call us: 626-624-4030


THE SCIENCE OF SMILES® offers affordable cosmetic and laser dentistry and gentle, compassionate general dental care in Pasadena, CA. Our office is conveniently situated with extended hours to meet your needs. At THE SCIENCE OF SMILES®, we offer most dental services, from basic preventative care and general dentistry to specialized procedures, complete dental rebuilding and TMJ/ Headache management. Patient satisfaction is our top priority and we strive to provide the exceptional, affordable dental care and personal touch that lead to lasting relationships. A smiling patient is our greatest reward and we look forward to keeping those smiles healthy, beautiful, and bright. Discover affordable up-to-date dentistry and a team who truly cares at THE SCIENCE OF SMILES®.