Canker Sores v. Cold Sores

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“I love mouth sores!” said no one ever. Mouth sores — occasionally known as soft-tissue disturbances — in or around the oral cavity can be painful, unappealing and a potential indicator of a more serious condition. Many of our patients have mixed up cold sores and canker sores, so we’ve put together this comparison to aid you in knowing the difference.

Canker sores. Canker sores can form in the mouth or on the tongue, but not outside of the mouth. They are typically tiny, whitish-yellow incisions and are not contagious. About 50 percent of the population can develop them, but we still don’t recognize exactly what causes them; a few scientists suspect stress as a contributor. If you do have canker sores, watch out for acidic foods, which can worsen pain from the sores.

Cold sores. Frequently mixed up with canker sores, cold sores are fluid-filled sacs that appear outside of the mouth, typically on the lips, and their fluid can bubble-over or crust. They can be very contagious, and they normally last about seven to ten days. Like canker sores, they may be related to stress; they can also form from weather exposure or fatigue. Ask us about antiviral medicines if you are dealing with cold sores.

If you have an infected sore or have had a sore for more than two weeks, please give us a call immediately so we can evaluate your greatest course of treatment. Let us know at 801-266-1414 to pencil in your next appointment with Dr. David Powell and the team at All Care Dentistry in Murray, Utah.