Cold sores and canker sores are often erroneously mixed up, but they have very different causes and treatments. According to Dr. Kellam of Bernardsville Dental Care, the two are very distinct conditions, but both have triggers that can be avoided and courses of treatment that your Bernardsville team can recommend.

Cold Sores

The name “cold sore” is somewhat misleading. The causative agent of a cold sore (otherwise referred to as fever blisters) is not the common cold. They are actually caused by the herpes simplex virus, a highly contagious virus. Cold sores often appear as a cluster of blisters outside the mouth, and are very easily passed from one person to another through contact or sharing of personal care items.

Canker Sores

Canker sores are typically grey or white sores that look like a circular inflamed area inside the mouth. They non-pathological, meaning that they are not infectious, and many times are caused by an immune response to trauma (like biting your cheek) or stress.


Canker sores usually resolve on their own within a 7-10 day period. Cold sores, on the other hand, have no known cure. Fortunately, treatment options exist for both, and if you’re experiencing frequent lesions, call Dr. Kellam and schedule a consultation today!

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