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How To Treat Canker Sores In Kids

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Avoid feeding your child with spicy, acidic, and scratchy or hard foods like nuts, potato chips, which can aggravate tender mouth sores. Be sure your child uses toothbrushes with soft bristles and avoids toothpastes or mouthwashes which contain sodium lauryl sulfate. For a quick fix - rinse the mouth every 2 to 3 hrs with salt water, apply a wet tea bag to the sore for relief.

There can be nothing more distressing for a parent than a child who’s in pain. And it’s worse if the pain makes it difficult for your child to eat and drink normally. Canker sores are a common condition where you get open sores in the mouth that can be painful. These sores usually make their first appearance between ten and twenty years of age; however, children as little as two may develop them. And while some people may develop them only once or twice a year some can get them almost continuously.1 And women seem to be more susceptible to them than men.2

Canker sores usually develop on the inside of your lips and cheeks, the roof of your mouth, your gums, or your tongue. These sores can be white or yellow and are surrounded by a red rim. They start becoming gray in color as they start to heal.3

They’re often confused with cold sores or fever blisters which also tend to develop around the mouth area or on the lips. However, cold sores are small blisters caused by the herpes virus and not open sores. Infection by the herpes virus can give you red blisters that may leak or blisters filled with a yellow fluid. Sometimes many blisters may join together into a large blister. Moreover, cold sores often start with a burning, itching, or tingling feeling around the mouth and are highly contagious unlike canker sores.4 5

Let’s take a look at what might cause canker sores and how you can deal with them.

How Are They Caused?

We don’t yet clearly understand what causes canker sores and more than one cause may be responsible even in the same person. Some likely causes are:

  • Though they don’t seem to be caused by bacteria or viruses, they can be triggered by an allergy to bacteria commonly found in the mouth.6 They may occur with viral infections.
  • A fault in the immune system can cause it to attack normal cells in the tongue and mouth.7
  • Your genes may play a role since canker sores can run in families.8
  • Injuries to your mouth, say, because you bit the inside of your mouth or brushed too hard which damaged the inner lining of your mouth, can cause canker sores.9
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), a chemical that’s found in many mouthwashes and tooth pastes, has been associated with canker sores and could delay the time it takes for a sore to heal.10
  • Female sex hormones could have a part in causing canker sores. Many women develop sores at certain points in their menstrual cycle and also experience an improvement during pregnancy. Hormone therapy as also been used in certain cases to treat canker sores.11
  • Canker sores could also develop as an allergic reaction to some foods.
  • Certain nutritional deficiencies, especially the lack of iron, folic acid, or vitamin B-12 can be responsible for the development of these sores. Stress can also trigger canker sores.12

What Can You Do About It?

Canker sores usually go away on their own. The pain may resolve in around seven or ten days though it might take between one to three weeks for the sore to heal fully. But you may need to go to the doctor if your sore is getting worse or not resolving after two weeks. A visit may also be warranted if you get these sores frequently ( more than twice or thrice a year) or have additional symptoms like headache, diarrhea, fever, or a skin rash.13 You doctor may be able to determine if a nutritional deficiency or allergy is causing your canker sores.14

Meanwhile, though antimicrobial mouthwashes and painkillers can help with canker sores they might not be suitable for kids. So what can you do to help your little one through a canker sore?15

Take Care With Food

Keep away from foods like nuts and potato chips which can be abrasive and irritate the tissues in the mouth. Also avoid spicy, acidic, and salty foods which may aggravate sores.16

Sort Out Dental Care

Make sure your child uses toothbrushes with soft bristles and brushes properly without damaging tissues in the mouth. It’s also a good idea to avoid using products which contain Sodium lauryl sulfate.17

Get A Salt Water Rinse

Rinsing your mouth out with salt water can help. Salt has anti-inflammatory properties and it makes your mouth more alkaline making it difficult for bacteria to survive. Make sure that your child spits out the salt water after swirling it around in their mouth for a few seconds, though.18

Use A Tea Compress

Tea contains tannin which has astringent properties that can soothe a canker sore. Apply a wet tea bag to the sore for relief.19

Go For Yogurt

Having about four tablespoons of yogurt a day can help prevent canker sores since yogurt contains helpful bacteria that can counter the growth of harmful bacteria. Make sure you use yogurt that contains active cultures of the bacteria Lactobacillus acidophilus.20

References   [ + ]

1, 6, 7, 11, 14. Fever Blisters and Canker Sores. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES.
2, 3, 8, 12, 13. Canker sore. National Institutes of Health.
4, 15. Mouth ulcers. National Health Service.
5. Herpes – oral. National Institutes of Health.
9, 10, 16, 17. Canker Sore. The Nemours Foundation.
18, 19, 20. The Editors of Prevention. The Doctors Book of Home Remedies: Quick Fixes, Clever Techniques, and Uncommon Cures to Get You Feeling Better Fast. Rodale, 2010.
CureJoy Editorial

The CureJoy Editorial team digs up credible information from multiple sources, both academic and experiential, to stitch a holistic health perspective on topics that pique our readers' interest.

CureJoy Editorial

The CureJoy Editorial team digs up credible information from multiple sources, both academic and experiential, to stitch a holistic health perspective on topics that pique our readers' interest.