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Mouth sores are annoying. They can be irritating and ugly, and can even cause quite a bit of pain. Two of the most common kinds of mouth sores are canker sores and cold sores. Though often referred to interchangeably, they are not, in fact, the same.

Canker sores are small ulcerations with a white or grey base and a red border; cold sores are small, fluid-filled blisters. Canker sores can appear inside the mouth (cold sores, on the other hand, appear on the outside of the mouth, on the lips, nose, chin, and surrounding areas).

Unfortunately, no one is quite sure what causes canker sores, though fatigue, stress, and illness can increase susceptibility to them. They tend to run in families; additionally, people who have had cold sores in the past are more likely to experience them. Some experts believe bacteria, virus, or immune problems to be involved.

We do know, however, that canker sores are not contagious. Cold sores, on the other hand, are highly contagious. They stem from the herpes virus type 1. Once people are infected with the primary herpes infection (usually before adulthood) the virus stays in their bodies for the rest of their lives. Some people never experience attacks; others experience them frequently. Attacks can flare-up following a fever, illness, stress, or becoming emotional upset.

For more information, call Great Lakes Family Dental in Jackson, Michigan, at 517.787.0550. Drs. Kinra and Kinra are happy to help keep your mouth healthy!