What Are Canker Sores? Are They the Same as Cold Sores?

Canker sores appear on the inside of the mouth and resemble small ulcers. They can make it difficult to talk and eat comfortably. There are two main kinds of canker sores that can develop. The first are simple canker sores that typically occur several times a year, and may last up to a week. These are most commonly found in young people between the ages of 10 and 20. The second type is called complex canker sores and occurs less frequently. They tend to be more common in people who have previously had an attack.

A lot of people get canker sores and cold sores mixed up, but in fact they are quite different. Whereas canker sores develop on the inside of the mouth, cold sores develop on the outside of the mouth, around the lips. Cold sores develop due to the herpes simplex virus and are highly contagious. Canker sores are not contagious at all and are not linked to this virus.

What Causes Canker Sores?

It is not exactly known why some people will develop canker sores. It’s suspected the cause may be due to stress, or it could be due to some sort of injury to the soft tissues in the mouth. This might be something as simple as having a sharp surface on one of your teeth, or a dental appliance that digs into your gums, cheeks or lips. However some people will find an attack is triggered by eating certain foods, in particular foods that are acidic or spicy. Eating these foods during an attack can make the problem worse.

What Are the Symptoms of a Canker Sore?

Canker sores can create a number of symptoms, and it’s quite common to feel a burning or tingling sensation just before the actual sores appear. Canker sores can develop on the tongue, the roof of your mouth, or inside your cheeks, and once they do appear you might feel sluggish, your lymph nodes may be swollen, and you may have a fever or will generally feel under the weather.

How Can You Treat a Canker Sore?

Most people will find their canker sores heal up without any treatment after a week or so. However if you develop a particularly large canker sore then it might be worth contacting the Cosmetic Dentistry Center for more advice. It’s possible your dentist could prescribe a corticosteroid ointment, or an antimicrobial mouth rinse to help reduce the pain and discomfort. You should also contact your dentist if the sores seem to be spreading, if they last more than two or three weeks, if they are creating a lot of pain or make it difficult to drink enough water. Seek medical advice if you have a high fever.

Can Canker Sores Be Prevented?

If you are prone to outbreaks of canker sores then try to identify foods that may be sparking an attack. These can include acidic fruits and vegetables and very spicy foods. It can be worth brushing your teeth after each meal, using a soft bristle toothbrush that will not irritate your gums. This will help to remove any foods that could irritate your mouth, triggering an attack of canker sores.

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