Cold sores and canker sores are two of the most commonly confused oral issues among patients, and there is a big difference between the two. For starters, one is highly contagious while the other is harmless. Knowing the difference and how to identify these two different different ailments then is extremely important.
The easiest way to know the difference between the two is by the way they look and where they are located. Cold sores will appear outside the mouth, whereas canker sores are located inside the mouth. This is the simplest rule of thumb to follow. Also, cold sores will look like a blister or pimple with fluid inside, and canker sores will be white with red surrounding it highlighting the irritated area. This is another way to tell the difference.
Once you identify which type of sore you have, you may wonder what caused them. With canker sores, stress and hormones are the most common causes, as well as other stress related issues such as biting the inside of your mouth. The things you put in your mouth can also cause canker sores. When food is sharp, it can cut the insides of your mouth and cause them, or if you have an allergy to a certain type of food, this can cause canker sores to appear.
While canker sores can be very irritating, they are harmless and will go away eventually on their own. However, there are options to help alleviate the irritation or get rid of these sores faster. The best option is to rinse your mouth with salt water. The salt will help will not only reduce the inflammation and irritation, but will also help speed up the healing process. Unfortunately, there is not much you can do to prevent canker sores other than being aware of and avoiding its main causes such as stress.
On the other hand, cold sores are much more serious and harder to eliminate. This is because cold sores are caused by the HSV-1 virus. While it is related to genital herpes virus, it is not the same thing. However, cold sores are extremely contagious and about 90% of the population are carriers of this HSV-1 virus. As a result, it is critical that you see your dentist or a health care professional as soon as you notice cold sores.
Your dentist can provide you with treatment options that range from creams and topical medications to laser treatment. Regardless of your situation, your dentist can work with you to get rid of the cold cores and prevent future outbreaks from occurring. In the future, you should attempt not to share food or drinks that would cause an opportunity to spread the virus.
If you have any questions or concerns about your oral health or are unsure if you have a cold sore or a canker sore, be sure to contact your dentist for information and guidance.