Canker sores can be a painful and uncomfortable experience for your child. Although they don’t cause serious problems, canker sores are a type of mouth injury that occurs quite commonly and can easily be treated. As dentists, it’s our job to help relieve your child’s pain, treat it effectively, and work with you to help diagnose the potential causes of your child’s canker sores to prevent it from reoccurring or becoming worse. But most often, canker sores can be a bit hard to determine and scary if you don’t know what you’re looking at, but luckily, we’re here to help.
What Are Canker Sores All About?
Canker sores are small oval lesions that occur inside the cheeks, lips, along the gums, and under the tongue. These sores often appear white or yellow and are not contagious by any means. These sores can often be confused with cold sores, which are caused by a viral infection and appear along the outside of the mouth area. However, canker sores only appear inside the mouth and appear like a lesion inside the tissues of the mouth. Medically known as aphthous ulcers, canker sores can be painful and can make it hard for your child to eat and speak normally.
These canker sores often appear round or oval in shape, and your child may notice a tingling or burning sensation throughout their mouth before it appears. These sores are usually small and normally would heal on their own within one to two weeks. However, no one truly knows what causes these canker sores to appear. Many researchers speculate that these sores are inherited and that they’re also influenced by various other factors, including:
- Weakened Immune System: If your child’s most recently recovered from an illness, such as the cold or flu, then their immune system may be weakened, leading to the development of canker sores.
- Hormonal Changes: In some children, hormonal changes can influence how their bodies respond to certain forms of bacteria and can ultimately result in canker sores.
- Stress-Related Sores: High amounts of stress experienced by a child can potentially cause these lesions to develop.
- Vitamin/Mineral Deficiency: Having either a vitamin B or iron deficiency can potentially increase the risk of these cankers forming.
- Other Related Diseases: In rarer cases, children with misdiagnosed inflammatory bowel disease or Behcet’s disease can cause inflammation in the mouth with sores that look similar to canker sores.
How Your Pediatric Dentist Can Help
As a common condition, these sores will normally go away within a few weeks. However, if they have not gone away within two weeks, have changed in size, shape, and have increased in pain levels, it’s important to see your primary doctor, pediatrician, or pediatric dentist help diagnose and treat the condition. However, with mild canker sores, ibuprofen and acetaminophen can help relieve the pain. If you visit your pediatric dentist, they can also prescribe your child a topical medicine, special mouthwash, and another home remedy to help prevent these canker sores from coming back.