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Cold sores and canker sores are often confused, but they are very different and should be treated differently. Do you know the difference?

Canker sores are not contagious at all. They are painful, round ulcerations; they can occur on the tongue, lips, cheeks, in your mouth, or on the outside of your lips. On the other hand, cold sores– or fever blisters– are highly contagious. The sores look like small blisters, and often form around the edge of the lip. The sores come from the herpes 1 virus, and spread through saliva or skin contact.  Once you have caught the cold sore virus, it lies dormant in your body until it is triggered again–by fever, stress, other illness, or other stressors. Unfortunately, there is no effective vaccine once you’ve been infected, and most children have been infected by the time they are 10.  

Though cold sores have a clear source, scientists are not sure what causes canker sores. The sores seem to run in families, though some experts believe there are bacteria or viruses involved at some level. You usually do not need to see a doctor for canker sores, unless this is your first time getting them, or if they are 1 centimeter or larger.

If you are in the Orem, Utah area and have mouth sores that need to be seen by a professional, call Double Take Dental at 801-225-1002 to set an appointment. Dr. Andrew Atwood and our team will be happy to help you relieve the pain and get back to a healthy smile.