Canker sores (aphthous ulcers) are small sores that often develops inside the mouth, at the base of the gums, inside the lips, on the cheeks, or on the tongue. The sores are usually white, gray, or yellowish, but they are not contagious. Canker sores can’t be spread from one child to another. It is different from cold sores (fever blisters), which are caused by a virus and found outside the mouth around the lips, on the cheeks or chin, or inside the nostrils.
However, canker sores are most common in teenagers and women, but they can strike children and may come back some years later, after the first outbreak. Pain caused by these sores can make eating, drinking, and even brushing the teeth painful and difficult. Women and girls are twice as likely to develop them more than men, during pregnancy, menstruation and menopause.
What causes canker sores in kids?
The exact cause of cancer sores in kids is unknown. Unlike cold sores, canker sores are not caused by a virus or any other type of germ, and they can’t spread from one person to another.
There are few factors that are thought to put a child at risk of developing canker sores. If your child keeps on getting canker sores, it may be a severe deficiency of vitamin B-12, folic acid, or iron. Children who have allergic reactions to some foods, such as coffee, chocolate, cheese, nuts, and citrus fruits develops canker sores more frequently. Also, kids whose diets are low in folic acid, vitamin B12 tend to develop canker sores more often.
In addition, canker sores in kids are also linked to mouth injuries maybe as a result of Irritation from orthodontic braces, injuries from biting the delicate inside of the lip and brushing too hard. According to studies, the sores can be a sign of side effects from certain medications, emotional stress and weakened immune system. College students tend to have more canker sores during stressful periods, such as around exam time.
Symptoms of canker sores in kids
Canker sores occasionally appear as round, shallow, painful open sores that are covered with a yellow layer and a red base. The painful sores can develop in the mouth, usually inside the lips, on the cheeks, or on the tongue. It can takes up to 2 weeks for canker sores to heal. During this time, the sores can be painful, although the first 3 to 4 days are usually the worst. Unless they are very large or deep, they usually heal without scarring. (1)
How canker sores are diagnose
It’s always advisable to schedule an appointment with your pediatrician if the sores last more than two weeks. The services of a pediatrician will be needed if he pain becomes severe and if the canker sores are accompanied by a high fever or your child has trouble swallowing.
However, canker sores can be identify through medical history and physical examination. If your child’s sores are too severe, the pediatrician may want to do some tests to look for possible nutritional deficiencies, immune system deficiencies and allergies. Blood tests and biopsy of the sore are usually recommended during the diagnosis. Small pieces of tissues from the sore are taken and tested in the laboratory using a microscope and other necessary equipments.
How to treat canker sores in kids
Sometimes, canker sores does not actually need treatment, the sores will heal on their own in a few days to a couple of weeks. If your child is old enough, you can help him ease the pain by rinsing his mouth several times each day with a cup of warm water mixed with half a teaspoon of salt, ensure that he doesn’t swallow the rinse.
If the sores are too painful and doesn’t get better after a few weeks or sores keeps coming back, see a doctor. The doctor may prescribe a topical medicine that can be applied directly to the sore. Special mouthwash and home remedies can also help to ease the pain and promote healing. Some over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen or acetaminophen may also be recommended.
How to prevent reoccurrence of canker sores
1. Use only soft-bristled toothbrush. If your child has braces or other dental appliances, ask your dentist about special wax to cover sharp edges.
2. Make sure that your child does not use toothpastes and mouthwash that doesn’t contain sodium lauryl sulfate.
3. Ensure that your child avoids those foods that he is allergic to. Prevent your child from eating abrasive foods, such as potato chips and nuts, which can irritate the gums and other delicate mouth tissues.
4. Give your child well-balanced diet. Your child’s doctor may also recommend a daily multivitamin to help boost your child’s immune system and health.