Cankers and cold sores are persistent, painful, and often quite difficult to get rid of. While they are often mistaken for one another, there are some key differences between cankers and cold sores. Understanding those differences will allow you make a better determination of what you’re dealing with, and help you select the right treatment option.
The good news is that there are some new treatment options to help you deal with both cankers and cold sores. So let’s take a look at the differences between the two, and what you can expect when treating these pesky oral health issues.
What’s the Difference Between a Canker and a Cold Sore?
Cold sores and cankers share some similarities, but there’s one key difference that will almost always help you identify which of the two is affecting you. Cold sores appear near the lips and areas around the outside of your mouth, while cankers appear inside of your mouth. There are also some important differences in appearance and symptoms, which you’ll learn more about below.
- Cold sores are small clusters of blisters, often surrounded by red, inflamed tissue. In addition to appearing around the lips, cold sores can also affect your chin, and the area below your nose.
- Unlike cankers, cold sores are highly contagious. That’s because cold sores are caused by a virus called herpes simplex type 1, which is easily transmitted from one person to another.
- Most cold sores will heal anywhere from a few days to two weeks after appearing. Before they heal, cold sores can cause significant pain and discomfort.
Cankers are ulcers that appear on the tissue inside your mouth. They’re often very painful, making it difficult to eat and speak.
- There are two types of canker sores, simple and complex. Simple cankers are often brought on by stress, or by injury the to tissue inside your mouth.
- Complex canker sores are typically caused by underlying health issues, some of which are quite serious. Immune deficiencies, nutritional deficiencies, and Crohn’s disease are a few common examples.
- Minor cankers should begin to heal within a few days after appearing. Dental treatment options for severe cankers include ointments, mouth rinses, and laser treatment.
Outlining the Treatment Options for Cankers and Cold Sores
Cold sores and complex cankers often frustrate patients because they are persistent. When one sore heals, it never seems to take very long for another to appear. Managing your cold sores or cankers will require a mix of potential dental treatment options, depending on the severity and cause of the sores. Here are a few of the options you can expect.
- Cankers can often be treated effectively with an antimicrobial mouth rinse, or prescription ointment. If your pain is severe, your dentist may recommend an over-the-counter pain reliever.
- You can also minimize the chance of cankers appearing by watching what you eat. Spicy food and citrus fruit are especially risky for canker sufferers.
- If your cankers are caused by an underlying health condition, then addressing that health condition might also bring relief for persistent cankers.
The virus that causes cold sores can’t be cured, but you do have some options to reduce the frequency and severity of sores.
- Over-the-counter creams and ointments can be effective in treating cold sores. Speak with your dentist to identify the right choice for your needs.
- Your dentist might also prescribe an oral anti-viral medication to help you manage frequent cold sores.
Laser treatment is a relatively new option for both cankers and cold sores. In addition to helping get rid of existing sores, laser treatment also helps minimize the severity of sores that appear in the same area in the future.
Many insurance companies cover laser dental treatment for cankers and cold sores. Your dentist will help you decide whether laser treatment is the right course of action.
The treatment options for cankers and cold sores are better than ever, and that’s great news if you suffer from either of these persistent oral health issues. While there is no treatment option that will ensure your sores won’t return, today’s treatment options are much more effective in managing the sores that do appear. Consult with your dentist to identify the right dental treatment for your needs, and find real relief for your cankers or cold sores, today.
The team at Loreen Wong Dentistry can help you with cold sores, cankers, and so much more! More information about the services offered by your downtown Calgary dentist is just a click away