Canker Sore or Cold Sore

Many people suffer from canker sores and cold sores. However, there are distinct differences between the two, which are very important to know!

Canker sores are also known as aphthous ulcers and occur only on mucosa that is not does not overlie bone, and is therefore freely movable. Aphthous ulcers are one of the most common oral lesions experienced.

They are very painful ulcerations that can range from 1mm-2cm in size and can occur as single or groups of lesions. They have a red border with a yellow/white center and are most often round in shape. The sores usually last for 7-10 days and may recur often. The cause of canker sores is unknown, but it may be due to your body’s immune response, as some theories suggest.

Some foods such as cheese, tomato products, as well as toothpastes that contain sodium-laurel sulfate are known to exacerbate symptoms. Patients can use Orabase with benzocaine or anti-inflammatory agents such as Apthasol to reduce the pain caused by these lesions.*

Cold sores are more formerly known as herpetic lesions, as they are a result of the Herpes Simplex Virus. Unlike canker sores, recurrent oral herpes occurs almost exclusively on attached mucosa (mucosa that directly overlies bone), but they can also occur on the lips and other areas outside of the mouth.

Once someone gets oral herpes, the virus remains dormant in the main nerve trunk of the face. Cold sores are best treated by an antiviral medication, which decrease the length and severity of symptoms.

If you suffer from recurrent canker sores or cold sores, come by our office in West Caldwell so we can help!

*Josephsen Family Dentistry has no financial interest in any of the companies mentioned on this website