Are Cold Sores and Canker Sores the Same?

There’s hardly anything more irritating than a canker sore.

These tiny ulcers only last a few days…but wow! When you’ve got one, just about every word spoken and every bite taken hurts like heck! You know that feeling, right? Now, imagine how they feel in your child’s mouth! What exactly are those little buggers, and how in the world can you ease the pain fast? We’ll fill you in, and share our “canker-sore-be-gone” grocery list that’ll help save the day.

What Exactly is a Canker Sore?

To know the medically proper name for a canker sore is to understand why it hurts so much. A canker sore is actually an ulcer. An “Aphthous Ulcer” to be exact. These ulcers come in two forms, minor and major, and are surprisingly experienced by only about 20% of the U.S. population. Aren’t we lucky?!

Minor cankers (common in people between the ages of 10 and 20), are the smaller of the two, as the name would suggest, and last about 7-10 days. Major cankers can last from two to six weeks, have noticeable depth, and often have irregular borders. This type of sore is more common after the age of 20, and is essentially a recurrent canker, returning to a site previously impacted by a minor canker.


Who Gets Cankers?

While cankers affect both genders, girls tend to get them more often, likely because of hormonal fluctuations. Aside from that, the vast majority of people in general are believed to get cankers due to genetic tendencies – and the condition is triggered by spicy, salty or abrasive foods.
If your kids are among those unlucky people gifted with canker sore genetics, there is hope!

What’s the difference between a canker sore and a cold sore?

Cold sores, also called feverblisters or herpes. Herpes simplex type 1, are groups of painful, fluid-filled blisters.

Unlike canker sores, cold sores are caused by a virus and are extremely contagious.

Arrest the pain and speed up the healing process for canker sores with this short shopping list:

Rinses (use one of the below rinses four times a day)–

  • Hydrogen Peroxide – Equal parts peroxide and water
  • Salt and baking soda – Add a half teaspoon of both to 4oz. of water

Numbing Agents

  • Brands like Orajel® and Kank-A® can provide relief

Protective Pastes

  • Milk of Magnesia – dab on a cotton swab and use four times daily after the hydrogen peroxide rinse.
  • Baking Soda and Water Paste

Antimicrobial Mouthwashes

  • OraCare mouth rinse is great at keeping ulcers clean and plaque free, which reduces pain and makes them go away faster

Soft Tissue Dental Laser tretment

Dental lasers heal the sore with a single, painless visit to your dentist. After a brief feeling of warmth, the canker sore will no longer feel tender, and you can leave our office knowing that your mouth will be cleared up in just a day or two.

  1. It’s the only method proven to actually heal a canker sore, while simultaneously removing the pain. Many canker sores are caused by viruses. The biostimulation of the laser helps to kill the virus and cauterizes the open wound so that no new infection takes over. Cauterization using a laser doesn’t hurt like other treatments, such as freezing, but it does effectively remove the pain immediately. You can leave the dentist not just relieved, but actually well on your way to being all better.
  2. Your canker sore will heal in just 2 days rather than 2 weeks. A canker sore lasts an average of two weeks. This drops down to just two days when you seal off the sore and promote healing using a dental laser.
  3. You’ll be less likely to get canker sores in the future. Many people repeatedly get canker sores in the same place, especially in places where there is a persistent irritant, such as braces or dentures rubbing. This almost always means that a virus is active at a specified nerve ending or a stressor is located in that area of your mouth. The dental laser helps permanently reverse canker sore formation by “burning out” the virus from the nerve ending, eliminating repeat sore formation. Even canker sores caused not by a virus, but rather by rubbing can be eliminated in the same way. The laser seals off the nerve ending, which means that your brain no longer registers the irritant. The trigger goes unnoticed, which means that the ulcers don’t form.

If you or your children have a sore lasting beyond the two-week mark, make an appointment to see your doctor to evaluate their case. Prescription medications might be necessary to bring them much-needed relief or a laser treatment may do the trick. Why suffer when there are options out there to make it better?

Be Well!

Family dental care and cosmetic dentistry and dental implants.

Blue Apple Dental Group
6230 State Farm Drive, Rohnert Park, CA 94928
(707) 795-4523