Do you know the difference between a canker sore and a cold sore?

January 7, 2015

Canker-Sore27-vertHard to believe we are almost through with the first full week of January 2015 already. As we wrap up this holiday season full of rich indulgences and stress, and move into weather changes as well as cold and flu season we often notice increase in patients asking us about mouth sores… specifically, cold sores and canker sores. In today’s Brushing Up Blog we discuss the difference between the two.

Canker Sore

Canker Sores are typically found on the inside of the lips or cheeks and are extremely painful. Canker Sores are not contagious and generally heal within 7-10 days. Causes of these ulcerations range from stress to viral infections. We recommend avoiding acidic and spicy foods during the outbreak as well as practicing good oral hygiene habits such as brushing and flossing regularly to keep the area from becoming infected by the bacteria. If the pain is excruciating contact your dental professional for a recommended ointment or rinse

Cold Sore

Cold Sores are red, fluid-filled blisters that appear near the mouth- often on the corners of the lips. These sores are caused by a virus called Herpes simplex type 1. Cold sores are contagious and can be contracted and spread in many ways including sharing food and kissing. The virus that causes the cold sore remains in a person’s nerve cells and can break out at any time.

What is the treatment for a cold sore?

There is no cure for the Herpes simplex 1 virus. Prescription treatment options include antiviral ointments and medications that will control the pain and promote healing. You can avoid spreading the virus by practicing good hygiene including frequent hand washing and not sharing things that touch the mouth during an outbreak.
Your health and/or dental care providers can typically diagnose canker and cold sores just by looking at the as well as provide options for relief.

Until next time,

Keep smiling, sharing, and caring!

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