Mouth sores can be irritating. They are unsightly and can even be painful. Two of the most common varieties are cold sores and canker sores. Though often referred to interchangeably, they are not actually the same.

Canker sores are small ulcerations with a white base and an irritated, angry red border that can appear inside the mouth. Unfortunately, the exact cause of canker sores is unknown, though fatigue, stress, and illness can increase susceptibility to them. Some experts believe bacteria, virus, or immune problems to be involved. Canker sores are not contagious, though they tend to run in families. You are more likely to get canker sores if you have had them before. They can show up one at a time or in groups.

Cold sores, on the other hand, are highly contagious and stem from the herpes virus type 1. Once people are infected with the primary herpes infection (usually in childhood), the virus stays in their bodies. Attacks can flare-up following a fever or other illness, stress, or emotional upset. Cold sores are small, fluid-filled blisters that occur on the lips or under the nose or on the chin.

Avoid spicy or hot foods, which can irritate the sores. Cold sores should heal on their own within a week; canker sores should heal on their own within a week or two. You should see a dentist if this is your first time having canker sores, or if the sores are very large.

For more information, call Toms River Smiles Dental in Toms River, New Jersey, at 732-244-1163. Dr. Harihar Kumar and our team are happy to help keep your mouth healthy!