Students have a high prevalence of canker sores or cold sores, yet the sores seem to appear less frequently after graduation, when stress levels are lower, according to a report in the November/December 2003 issue of
General Dentistry, the Academy of General Dentistry's (AGD) clinical, peer-reviewed journal.
Canker sores, also known as aphthous ulcers, generally occur inside the mouth, are not contagious. Canker sores can be triggered by stress, genetics, trauma, medications, menstruation, food allergies or an unrelated medical problem.
Canker-sore treatment includes over-the-counter oral anesthetics. Your dentist can develop a treatment plan for more serious outbreaks.
Cold sores, also known as fever blisters, are most often found around the mouth but sometimes occur on the gums or roof of the mouth, and are caused by the herpes simplex virus (usually type 1, or HSV-1) and are highly contagious. "A cold sore progresses through different stages, and the infected individual is contagious through the entire process," says James J. Sciubba, DMD, PhD, lead report author.
"If cold sores are caught during the tingling stage, a topical medication can be applied, which will prevent the sore from erupting the majority of the time," says AGD spokesperson Eric Shapira, DDS, MAGD. An antiviral medication can be prescribed in serious cases. Ice cubes can be applied directly to the sores to help relieve the pain.
Reviewed: January 2012