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A few diseases can lead to sores in the mouth. Canker sores and cold sores are two common occurrences. However, many can mistake one for the other. Hence, it’s imperative to know about these sores, what distinguishes them, and when you should visit a dentist.

Canker Sores: These are shallow, white ulcers that pop up inside the mouth or at the gum base. These sores are widespread and frequent, so you might encounter them once or twice in your life. Moreover, they can be painful enough to make eating and talking difficult. Nonetheless, they are harmless except for their characteristic sharp stings.

Your immune system is strong enough to deal with canker sores and can wrap them up within a week or two. Therefore, until your body heals, you can rely on OTC painkillers to ease the pain. Moreover, canker sores have no definitive reasons for happening, but researchers have isolated a few factors that can boost the occurrence of these sores, such as:

  • Emotional stress.
  • Hormonal shifts during puberty or mensuration.
  • Irritation of soft tissues, for example, due to overzealous brushing.

Cold Sores: A viral infection of herpes simplex causes these. Symptoms may appear after 20 days of contracting the virus, and within weeks your body can recover from cold sores. However, the virus remains dormant in your body, and it can attack again when a window of opportunity opens. The progress of cold sores can be tracked in the following four stages:

  • Cold sores announce their attack in advance through an unexplained tingling sensation around your mouth.
  • In the upcoming days, one or more fluid-filled red blisters will appear on your lips.
  • After a few days, the sores will break open and will take up a shallow red appearance.
  • Blisters will eventually dry out, forming a yellowish-brown crust.

Finally, once the crusting begins, the sores will start to heal.

Cold V.S. Canker Sores:

As described above, the causing factors and the general anatomy of each sores considerably varies. Therefore, you can tell the difference between canker and cold sores, and the following guide should help with distinguishing each

  • Appearance: Cold sores are primarily red, while canker sores are white shallow lesions.
  • Location: Canker sores stay within the boundaries of your inner mouth, like on the inner lining of the cheek. On the other hand, cold sores essentially attack the outer region of the lips, with a few seldomly popping inside the mouth.
  • Accompanying symptoms: You are bound to experience tremendous pain due to both of these sores. However, you may also experience a fever, muscle aches, or sore throat during a cold sore outbreak.
  • Stage-wise progression: As discussed above, cold sores attack in four stages, starting from red fluid-filled blisters and ending with a dry yellow scab. However, canker sores don’t follow such a routine, as they can pop up quite abruptly.

When To See A Dentist:

Although both of these sores heal with time, you should immediately visit Angleton Family Dental if any of the following complications develop:

  • Prolonged and persistent fever.
  • When they last longer than expected.
  • Canker sores are large and deep.
  • When you feel irritation or redness in the eyes during a cold sore attack.
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