Painful Mouth Sores – Canker versus Cold

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All mouth sores are painful and irritating, and most of all… unsightly. Below you will find a description of two of the most common type of mouth sores. These are not pre-cancerous sores, but not all sores are created equal. Regular check-up of your teeth, gums, and oral tissues are critical to early detection.

Cold sores are a cluster of fluid-filled blisters known commonly as fever blisters. They may be found on the gum tissue, roof of the mouth or even on and around the lips. These types of sores are contagious and are caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus 1 or 2. The primary infection of this virus usually occurs during childhood and may often be confused with the cold or flu.

Once infected, the virus will remain dormant in the body. Recurrent cold sores may be triggered by irritants such as the sun, stress, illness etc. Once the blister breaks, the scab will form and all will be healed in about 7-10 days. Agents such as topical antiviral creams or systemic medications taken at the onset of symptoms may help to decrease the longevity, discomfort and severity.

Canker sores, unlike cold sores, begin as a red bumps. They may produce a tingling or burning sensation before they appear. There is no known cause for canker sores, and therefore, no exact cure. Treatment is palliative in nature and serves to minimize the discomfort. Like most benign sores, these too shall heal in about 7-10 days. Anything lasting longer warrants a visit to your dentist for examination.

Not all sores are harmless and short-lived. Arizona Dental Medicine provides visual oral cancer screening examination at all recare appointments. In addition, in-depth cancer screenings are provided using the ViziLite Plus examination. This enhanced evaluation improves our ability to identify suspicious areas that may have been missed during the conventional examination. Should you notice any changes in your mouth, painful or non-painful sores, call to schedule an appointment. Early detection of precancerous tissue is the key to possibly saving your life.