Maintaining good oral health requires that we pay attention to our entire mouth. Unsightly and sometimes painful cold and canker sores may not directly affect our teeth, but they could pose problems to our health. Do you know the difference between a cold sore and a canker sore? Understanding these lesions can help you refine treatment when either appears. In this article, Erlanger dentist Dr. Darlene Henry explains the differences between cold sores and canker sores.

Cold Sores

The herpes simplex 1 virus, which most cold sore sufferers contract as children, causes eruptions outside of the mouth around the lips. Nerve ganglions serve as the home for the virus. Nerves irritate the virus when illness or stress occurs, but the virus does not damage nerves.  Trauma to the nerve area also encourages the virus to deliver its signature red eruptions around lips. You may recognize cold sores as small, fluid-containing lesions. A long-lasting cold sore eventually cracks and leaks fluid that hardens. Since doctors have yet to find a cure for the cold sore virus, the best treatment options are preventive. To avoid cold sore development, begin treating areas that itch, burn, or feel numb before a cold sore appears. Talk to Dr. Henry about drugs that help suppress herpes simplex 1 to minimize appearances of cold sores.

Canker Sores

Unlike cold sorescanker sores appear inside of the mouth on the tongue, the inner lips, inside of cheeks, or on the mouth floor. Although doctors know that infections do not lead to canker sores, the exact cause of canker sores remains unknown. However, canker sores can lead to infection. Sometimes, larger, ulcerous sores do not heal, inviting more bacteria. Treatment for canker sores, like gels and nascent oxygen, only reduce pain, since most sores heal naturally. Meet with Dr. Henry when canker sores are persistent or ulcerous. Mouth ulcers may signal health problems like Crohn’s disease or oral cancer.

Schedule an Appointment with Your Erlanger Dentist

See Dr. Henry at our 41018 dentist office to discuss treatment options for your cold or canker sores. Dr. Henry may provide a referral for an oral pathologist to assist in maintaining good oral health. Call (859) 344-8500 to schedule an appointment. We welcome patients from Erlanger, Cincinnati, Crestview Hills, Fort Mitchell, Florence, Union, Independence, and Taylor Mill.