Cold Sores, Canker Sores, Mouth Sores: What’s the Difference?

Cold Sores, Canker Sores, Mouth Sores: What’s the Difference?

Sores can occur in the mouth for a number of reasons. We’re sure you’ve experienced your fair share of your lifetime. Many of these sores are more irritating than anything else and will go away after a few days. But some sores can actually be more serious and require attention. But how do you know if your sores are cause for concern? “It first starts with educating yourself about the different sores that you can experience,” explains Dr. Maryam Adibfar, a Toronto-based dentist.


There are different types of sores that occur for different reasons. However, bacteria, fungus and viruses are often the most common triggers of them. But what’s the difference between a cold sore, cankers or another mouth sore? Let’s take a closer look at the different types.


Different Types of Mouth Sores

We’ll take some time to touch on a few of the most common irritations that can occur in the mouth.


Cankers: You’ve likely experienced one of these annoying things at least once or twice in your life. While they’re not contagious, they can be very irritating. They’re often small and grey with a bright red border. These will appear inside the mouth. Cankers aren’t cause for concern and will typically heal by themselves within a week or two. Most dentists and health experts attribute these to bacteria or a virus, but other factors may contribute to them like stress, allergies or tiredness.


Cold Sores: These are pretty common as well. The big differences when compared to cankers? They are in fact contagious and will appear around the lips or under the nose. They typically aren’t cause for concern. There are creams and compresses that you can apply to help speed up the recovery. It’s important to not pass it on to others, so keep this in mind when you’re greeting people or sharing drinking glasses.


Oral CandidiasisThis is also known as oral thrush and is caused by a type of yeast called candida. If you’re experiencing this, you might see white spots inside your mouth or on your tongue. Other symptoms could be redness and sensitivity in the mouth area, issues swallowing or a sore throat. This would be considered a more serious mouth condition and if you’re experiencing these symptoms, it’s important to meet with your dentist immediately. They’ll be able to identify the issue and determine the best next steps to minimize further any potential damage to your oral or overall health.


Leukoplakia: This is a little less common, but it is something you want to become familiar with as it can be cause for concern. This could be a potential warning sign of other more serious oral health issues. They look like white patches and can show up inside the mouth or on the tongue or gums. It’s a common occurrence for those who use tobacco. “If you see something that resembles this, we encourage you to book an appointment with your dentist,” says Dr. Adibfar. “Further analysis might be needed if it is more severe.”


Need a Second Opinion?

If you have a mouth sore that has lasted quite some time or if you think some of the symptoms are cause for alarm, contact us today to schedule an examination today. We’ll help you determine what it is and what the best next steps are to keep your oral health in tip top shape.

2017-01-02T13:16:08-05:00 January 2nd, 2017|Oral Health Tips|