Family and Cosmetic Dentist - Livonia
31574 Schoolcraft Road
Livonia, MI 48150
Canker sores and cold sores are common yet annoying mouth irritations that are often confused with one another. Cold sores are slightly more common than canker sores, but a minimum of 20 percent of the population will suffer from one or the other at some time.
Cold sores, often called fever blisters, are highly contagious lip sores initially caused by the herpes simplex virus. The virus remains in the body to produce future outbreaks as a reaction to stress, illness, injury or sunlight. The first sign of a cold sore is usually a tingling sensation around the mouth, followed by painful, fluid-filled blisters on the lips and mouth. The blisters typically burst and scab over, usually healing in about a week.
Canker sores appear not on the lips but rather inside the mouth, presenting as small ulcers with a white or gray base and a red border. Unlike cold sores, they are not contagious and their exact cause is not known. Cankers can be triggered by fatigue, stress, allergies or intestinal problems in some people. If you bite or cut your cheek or tongue, or burn the inside of your mouth with hot food, you could also increase the likelihood of developing a canker sore. Some foods could trigger canker sores in certain cases - so make sure you note what you've eaten each time you suffer an outbreak of canker sores to see if there's a pattern.
Most canker sores will heal on their own after a week or two, and you can help the process along by avoiding hot, spicy or acidic foods in the meantime.
If your cold sores or canker sores do not heal, or seem to be getting worse after about a week, please call our office for suggestions that may ease your discomfort and speed up your recovery.