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Canker Sores

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A canker sore is also called an aphthous ulcer and can be painful, affecting adults and children. Most are round or oval-shaped with a red border and a white or yellow center. They can form inside the cheeks or lips, at the base of the gums, or underneath the tongue. Your child may notice they have a burning or tingling sensation a day or two before the sore develops.

Why Does My Child Get Canker Sores?

If your child gets a canker sore, it may be due to infection, eating specific foods, or because they feel stressed.

It can also occur after they have a dental procedure or their teeth cleaned professionally, or if they happen to bite the inside of their cheek or bite their tongue. Your child may be more sensitive to certain foods or specific ingredients, such as sodium lauryl sulfate found in toothpaste.

Children can develop canker sores as young as age two, but usually, they don’t appear until adolescence.

The most common type is a simple canker sore, and these generally develop between ages 10 and 20, lasting about a week. They may occur up to three or four times a year.

Complex canker sores are rarer, but are more painful and larger and last longer. They can be due to an underlying condition like Crohn’s disease, a condition that compromises the immune system, or vitamin deficiency.

How Long Will My Child’s Canker Sore Last?

Usually, the pain caused by a canker sore should disappear in a week to 10 days. The canker sore should heal completely between one and three weeks.

Most times, a canker sore will not require any professional dental treatment and should heal by itself. Home remedies can ease the pain and discomfort in the meantime.

When to Seek Professional Care for a Canker Sore?

If your child has a very large or deep canker sore that fails to improve after two weeks, please contact our pediatric dentists as we can assess the canker sore and may need to prescribe some medicine.

Please also call your doctor or us if your child shows signs of infection such as:

  • fever
  • Increased pain
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Red streaks radiating from the affected area

Your child will also need professional dental or medical care if pus begins to drain from the canker sore.

Treating a Child’s Canker Sore at Home

  • Provide soothing cold drinks such as iced water, sugar-free ice pops, or cold diluted juice and encourage them to drink through a straw to prevent the liquid from touching the sore.
  • Give them soft foods that are easy to chew and swallow and which aren’t acidic or spicy. Foods to choose include cottage cheese, macaroni and cheese, yogurt, creamy soups, applesauce, and soft-cooked eggs. If needed, blend or purée foods, so they are easier to swallow.
  • As a canker sore begins to heal, make sure your child continues to avoid acidic foods like citrus fruits and tomatoes, as well as spicy and salty foods, and seeds and nuts that could irritate the healing sore.
  • Give your child age-appropriate painkillers, but avoid giving them more than one medication unless advised by our dentist or your doctor. Please check with us before giving your child any mouth-numbing medications as some are not suitable for children.
  • Make sure they have a soft-bristled toothbrush to clean their teeth carefully.
  • Dab the canker sore with a tiny amount of milk of magnesia three or four times a day.
  • Make a warm salt water rinse for your child to rinse their mouth, making sure they do not swallow.

Unfortunately, canker sores often come back again, but if certain foods or ingredients trigger them, avoiding these products could limit their frequency. Call our kids dentistry center for more information on how to treat a canker sore at home

Preventing Canker Sores

It may not be possible to prevent canker sores entirely, but there are some things you can do to help reduce their frequency. If your child often gets canker sores, make sure they follow a good oral care habit. They may need to brush their teeth after every meal, removing any food debris that could trigger an attack.

Make sure they use a soft-bristled brush to avoid irritating their oral tissues and avoid toothpaste that contains sodium lauryl sulfate.

If your child is wearing a brace or another dental appliance, we can check it doesn’t have any sharp edges that could be causing canker sores.

Ensure your child eats a healthy diet with plenty of whole grains and fruits and vegetables. If certain food seemed to trigger canker sores, try to ensure they avoid these foods. Culprits can include acidic fruits like oranges, pineapple, and grapefruit, as well as salty and spicy foods, and pretzels, nuts, and chips.

This page was published on Oct 7, 2020, modified on Dec 4, 2020 by Pediatric Dentistry Center

Pediatric Dentistry Center
2148 Ocean Ave, Ste 401A
Brooklyn, NY 11229

The information on this website is to provide a general pediatric dentistry information. In no way does any of the information provided reflect a definitive treatment advice. It is important to consult a best in class pediatric dentist in Brooklyn regarding ANY questions or issues. A thorough dental evaluation should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call your local kids dentist or pediatric dentist Dr. Igor Khabensky DDS or Dr. Tracy Kim, to schedule a consultation.
Pediatric Dentistry Center Material published on the website is for general purpose only. Symptoms and conditions my sound similar but different in nature. In case of dental emergency, pain, or discomfort, we advise booking an appointment with our pediatric dentists Dr. Khabensky DDS and Dr. Kim. Useful Information
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