Sexually transmitted diseases that affect the mouth
There are two strains of the virus that causes herpes. Currently, there is no cure for either strain. Herpes simplex virus type 1 is most commonly associated with cold sores and other mouth lesions. Herpes simplex virus type 2 is most commonly associated with genital lesions. However, both strains are extremely contagious and can be passed between the genitals and the mouth through saliva and contact with open sores during and right before an outbreak.
During an outbreak, you may see blisters in your mouth. Their appearance varies widely. They could be clear, pink, red, yellow or gray. When they pop, you may feel pain when you try to swallow or eat. They generally heal within 7-10 days, and your dentist can prescribe medicine to reduce the pain.
Symptoms of herpes can also include fever and fatigue. Be sure to talk to your physician about the best way for you to manage the disease.
Syphilis has been on the rise since 2005 and reached its highest reported rate in 2015.
During the first stage of infection, syphilis may appear as sores, known as chancres, on your lips, the tip of your tongue, your gums or at the back of your mouth near your tonsils. They start as small red patches and grow into larger, open sores that can be red, yellow or gray in colour. These are very contagious and often painful. If untreated, the sores may go away, but you still have syphilis and can infect others.
Syphilis is a bacterial infection that is actually very treatable in its early stages. Your dentist can do a biopsy to confirm a diagnosis. If positive, you would be referred to your primary care physician for more testing and treatment. But it is important to be aware that untreated syphilis can cause long-term damage to your heart and brain.
Gonorrhoea is a bacterial infection that affects mucous membranes, including those in your mouth and throat. As with syphilis, the number of cases of gonorrhoea is also at an all-time high. In 2015, there was a 13 per cent increase in cases reported in 2014.
Gonorrhoea can be difficult to detect because its symptoms are often very mild and can go unnoticed. The most common symptoms in your mouth are soreness or burning in your throat. Additional symptoms may include swollen glands and occasionally white spots in your mouth.
Untreated gonorrhoea can seriously impact your health. A throat culture swab test can diagnose gonorrhoea if you have symptoms in your mouth. Discuss any concerns about your mouth or throat with your dentist, and see your physician for further testing and treatment.