Big Apple Pediatric Dentistry

How to Treat Canker Sores in Kids

How to Treat Canker Sores in Kids

Reviewed by Dr. Henry Martinez, DMD

Reading time: four minutes.

Canker sores are a common childhood complaint, but their sting can cause real discomfort. As a parent, it’s important to understand what these mouth sores are, why your child might get them, and how to ease the pain.

In this blog, we will discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatments for canker sores in kids. We will also provide some tips on how to prevent them from occurring in the first place.

Key Takeaway

Canker sores are small, painful ulcers inside the mouth that can cause discomfort or pain. Topical oral treatments like numbing gels or pastes can provide relief and promote healing. For persistent or severe cases, your child’s dentist may recommend prescription medication.

What are Canker Sores?

Canker sores, also known as aphthous ulcers, are small, shallow sores that develop inside the mouth, often on the tongue, cheeks, or lips. 

They can be painful and make eating and talking difficult. It’s important to distinguish canker sores from cold sores, which are caused by a virus and usually appear outside the mouth.

Common Symptoms

  • Mouth pain: Can range from mild discomfort to severe pain, especially when eating or drinking.
  • Round or oval sores: Typically white or yellow with a red border.
  • Single or multiple sores: Some may develop only one sore, while others may have multiple sores.

What Causes Canker Sores in Kids?

The exact cause isn’t always clear, but several factors can contribute to the development of canker sores:

  • Food allergies: Certain foods like chocolate, citrus fruits, strawberries, and tomatoes can trigger mouth sores in some children.
  • Vitamin deficiencies: Low levels of iron, folic acid, or vitamin B-12 can increase the risk of mouth ulcers.
  • Medical conditions: In rare cases, canker sores may be a symptom of underlying medical conditions, such as celiac disease or inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Accidental injury: Biting the cheek, vigorous tooth brushing, or irritation from braces can cause mouth ulcers.

Treatment Options

Most will heal on their own within a week or two. However, there are several things you can do to ease your child’s discomfort and speed up the healing process.

  1. Pain reliever: An over-the-counter pain reliever like children’s ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help reduce mouth pain.
  2. Salt water rinse: Mix a teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water and have your child swish it around in their mouth for a few seconds before spitting it out. This can help reduce inflammation and promote healing.
  3. Liquid antacid: Applying a small amount of liquid antacid directly to the sore can help protect it and reduce pain.
  4. Cold liquids: Offer your child cold liquids like milk or ice water to help numb the area and reduce inflammation.
  5. Bland foods: Stick to bland foods like yogurt, applesauce, and mashed potatoes to avoid irritating the sore. Avoid acidic foods, spicy foods, and abrasive foods like chips.

How to Prevent Canker Sores

It’s not always possible to prevent them from occurring, but there are steps you can take to reduce their frequency:

  • Oral hygiene: Encourage your child to brush their teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and floss daily. This can help prevent bacteria from accumulating in the mouth and reduce the risk of mouth sores.
  • Healthy diet: Ensure your child eats a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals, especially iron, folic acid, and vitamin B-12.
  • Avoid triggers: Avoid foods that irritate the mouth or trigger a reaction.
  • Gentle brushing: Teach your child to brush their teeth gently to avoid injuring the soft tissue in their mouth.
  • Regular dental checkups: Schedule regular checkups with your pediatric dentist to identify and address any potential oral health issues early on.

Visit Big Apple Pediatric Dentistry in Phoenix, AZ

If your child’s canker sores are large, extremely painful, last longer than two weeks, or are accompanied by a fever, consult your primary care provider. They can determine if there’s an underlying cause and recommend appropriate treatment options.

At Big Apple Pediatric Dentistry, we’re committed to helping your child maintain optimal oral health. If you have any concerns about canker sores or other oral health issues, please contact us.

Our pediatric dentist, Dr. Martinez, is dedicated to providing a positive, safe dental experience that helps children cultivate healthy oral hygiene habits. 

If you are searching for “kids dentist in Phoenix” or ” pediatric dentist near me” we can help! Call (602) 935-7427  to schedule a visit or complete the online booking form.

Stay tuned for our next blog Tiny Teeth, Big Future: The Importance of Preventative Dentistry