Lips and Dentistry

When you go to the dentist the first thing he or she puts most attention on is the teeth and gums. But the dentist will also look at all of your tissues in mouth and the lips.

 Lip Conditions

There are several imperfect conditions that can occur to the lips: trauma, chapped lips, herpes, cancer, angular cheilitis (moist cracking in the corner of the mouth) to name some.

Herpes (herpes labialis) is a virus that lives in the nerves and becomes active when triggered (from stress or sunlight, for example). It has a contagious period when contact will cause it to spread to another. There are several antiviral treatments for herpes: taking a pill, or a cream to apply.

The cracking of the moist lips at the corners of the mouth is known as angular cheilitis. It is usually a fungus and is treated with antifungal creams (like athlete’s foot cream) with good results.

Cancer is of the highest concern. The cancers are usually basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma. These cases need to be seen by an oral surgeon or dermatologist FAST for a biopsy and appropriate treatment.

Lip Protection

A lip balm application is a good way to control some of these conditions. The moisture will prevent chapped lips and may give some protection to avoid angular cheilitis.

Since lip cancer is frequently caused by overexposure to sunlight, a lip balm with sun protection, much like sunscreen is helpful. The SPF stands for “sun protection factor” which is a measure of how much protection is in the product you’re buying. The higher the number, the more protection. So, if you are going outside especially for an extended period of time, a lip balm with protection will help to keep your lips in condition as you get older.