Treating Canker Sores and Cold Sores

Canker sores are small ulcers that appear inside the mouth. They can be extremely painful and even disrupt your ability to eat or talk. Cold sores, also known as fever blisters, are not the same as canker sores (though they are easily confused as being the same). Instead, cold sores are part of the herpes simplex type 1 virus and are a painful, fluid-filled blister. What’s worse is that they are contagious.


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Cold Sores Versus Canker Sores

Cold sores are extremely contagious and are caused by a virus. They usually appear outside of the mouth – typically under the nose, under the chin or around the lips. Canker sores, on the other hand, are not contagious and happen inside the mouth. Unlike cold sores, the cause of canker sores is not known.

Canker sores can be caused by a variety of things, including:
•    Stress or injury to the mouth tissue
•    Acidic foods and drinks
•    Sharp dental appliances or tooth surfaces
•    Impaired immune system
•    Nutritional issues
•    Gastrointestinal tract diseases – such as celiac or Crohn’s

The Symptoms of Canker Sores and Cold Sores

The symptoms of canker sores and cold sores can be somewhat similar, but there are ways to tell if you have a canker or cold sore in your mouth.
You may have a canker sore if:
•    There are painful sores inside your mouth, on the tongue or on the back roof of your mouth
•    The sore area tingled or burned before the sore appeared
•    The sores in your mouth are round, have a reddened edge and are white or grey in the middle
•    In severe cases, you may have a fever, swollen lymph nodes or sluggishness.
You may have a cold sore if:
•    The fluid-filled blisters are red, burning, itching or painful to the touch
•    The sores are swollen, and your gums are sensitive and deep red in colour
•    The sore appears on the outside of the mouth
•    You exhibit flu-like symptoms
•    There is a tingling or itching sensation in an area where you had a previous cold sore outbreak

Treating Canker and Cold Sores

Sores that are large, persistent and painful should be treated by a dental professional. Your dentist can prescribe an anti-microbial mouth rinse or corticosteroid treatment for your canker sores. A solution may be used to help reduce irritation while the sores heal. For cold sores, the outbreak may last up to two weeks. Your dentist may be able to prescribe a cream or gel that offers relief, but there are no treatments that can cure cold sores like you can for canker sores.



Call us at 416-287-2426 to make an appointment with Dr. Cyrus.

Office Hours

Monday  10:00 AM - 7:30 pm
Tuesday  9:00 AM - 8:00 pm
Wednesday  10:00 AM - 7:30 pm
Thursday  10:00 AM - 7:30 pm
Friday  11:30 AM - 6:30 pm
Saturday  7:00 AM - 3:30 pm
Sunday   Closed


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

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