Canker sores and cold sores are not just a nuisance, they can also be extremely painful. While the terms are used synonymously, these terms identify two very different types of oral health problems.

A cold sore is a cluster of blisters that first start as clear and then form a cloudy top. The infection typically starts on the inside of the mouth, but it can also appear on the outside around the mouth and on the lips. Canker sores, on the other hand, are grayish, whitish sores surrounded by inflamed tissues. They are inside the mouth, on the sides of the cheeks, lips or throat and can even form on the tongue.

What Causes Oral Sores?

There are a variety of factors that can cause canker and cold sores to appear:

  • Canker Sores – These can be brought on by stress, menstruation, an injury to the mouth, food allergies, lack of vitamins (especially vitamin B12, folic acid, and iron), braces, eating/drinking acidic items, or even a virus.
  • Cold Sores – Cold sores are typically caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV). This is a very common virus that is found in children and adults alike. Certain environmental factors can trigger HSV outbreaks, such as sunburn, stress, fatigue, infections, gastrointestinal disorders (stomach upset), etc.

How Are these Sores Treated?

If you have persistent canker or cold sores, it is best you speak with an oral care professional—your dentist. Typically, you will be prescribed an anti-microbial mouth rinse to help flush away any bacteria. Then you may need to apply a corticosteroid to help with inflammation. A secondary solution may also be prescribed to reduce the irritation while your sores have time to heal.

Laser Treatment Alternatives

Cold sores and canker sores can be treated with laser therapy
as well. The laser heats the lesions inside your mouth and helps kill the virus. This also stimulates your body’s natural healing response. The heat is carefully controlled and the laser itself never comes into contact with the skin. Treatment typically only takes about 15 minutes and most patients notice immediate results.

It is important to practice proper oral hygiene after treating your cold and canker sores with over-the-counter or professional laser treatments. These sores can come back, especially if your mouth is not kept clean or you have a second outbreak. Laser treatments can, however, increase the time in between breakouts.

If you are interested in laser treatments for your recurring, painful cold and canker sores, visit a dental professional today for a consultation.


Call Dr. Cyrus at 416-287-2426 today to schedule an appointment.

A woman suffering from cold sore

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Sheridan Cyrus Dentistry
1371 Neilson Road, Suite G01 Lower Level, Scarborough Ontario, M1B 4Z8

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