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“I love mouth sores!” said no one ever. Mouth sores — from time to time defined as soft-tissue disturbances — in or around the mouth can be painful, disagreeable and a potential indicator of a more grave disorder. A number of of our patients have mixed up cold sores and canker sores, so we’ve amassed this comparison to aid you in knowing the difference.

Canker sores. Canker sores can form in the mouth or on the tongue, but not outside of the oral cavity. They are typically tiny, whitish-yellow lesions and are not infectious. About 50 percent of the population can develop them, but we still don’t know what causes them; a few scientists suspect stress as a contributor. If you do have canker sores, watch out for acidic foods, which can worsen uneasiness from the sores. Most will go away on their own within a week.

Cold sores. Frequently confused with canker sores, cold sores are fluid-filled sacs that appear outside of the oral cavity, typically on the lips, and their liquid can bubble-over or crust. They can be very contagious, and they usually last for about seven to ten days. Like canker sores, they are perhaps related to stress; they can also form from weather exposure or fatigue. Ask us about antiviral meds if you are dealing with cold sores.

If you have an infected sore or have had a sore for more than two weeks, please phone us instantly so we can judge your best course of action. Reach out to us at 801-375-3355 to pencil in your next appointment with Dr. Ben Frandsen and the team at Frandsen Orthodontics in Orem, Utah.