Did you know that there are multiple types of canker sores that you or someone you know might have? If you experience frequent canker sores on your gums, tongue or in your mouth, learn more about how these sores could affect you, and how you can quickly differentiate them from one another.1,2
Minor or Simple3 Canker Sores (Minor Aphthous Stomatitis)
This type of canker sore is arguably the most common, affecting more than 80 percent of people with the condition. Minor canker sores are very small, oval-shaped with a red border and measure less than 1 centimeter (.39 inch) in diameter.
Most people usually have no more than three to four episodes of minor canker sores in a year.4 Compared to other types of sores, minor canker sores heal the fastest, with recovery time taking only about one week, without any form of scarring.
Major Canker Sores (Major Aphthous Stomatitis)
Major canker sores are less common, since only 15 percent of patients with the condition experience these. Compared to minor canker sores, these are deeper and larger, measuring over 1 centimeter in diameter. The sores are round with either defined edges or irregular borders, especially if it’s a large lesion.
Unfortunately, major canker sores are extremely painful and take a longer time to heal. The typical recovery time for these sores takes at least six weeks, and they could cause scarring in the mouth. In some cases, these sores can even transform the shape of the mucosal surface.5
Herpetiform Canker Sores (Apthous Stomatitis)
Of these types of canker sores, Herpetiform canker sores are the least common, since these are only present in less than 5 percent of people. These sores typically occur in older people,6 and contrary to popular belief, aren’t caused by the herpes virus.7
Herpetiform canker sores start off as irregular-edged clusters of 10 to 100 very small lesions,8 with some measuring less than 1 millimeter (.039 inch). As time progresses, the clusters could merge together to form larger groups.9 While the appearance of these clusters could be alarming, they tend to heal fast. It takes just over one to two weeks for Herpetiform canker sores to heal, without any scarring.