Most canker sores do not need medical treatment and resolve within two weeks, however, if your child is suffering from an canker sore (aphthous ulcer), he/she may have difficulty eating or drinking certain foods and liquids due to discomfort, especially the first few days after the canker sore appears.
Tips to relieve canker sore pain include:
- Avoid food and drinks that may irritate the sore. Salty, spicy, or acidic foods can cause additional pain to an open aphthous ulcer. Stick to softer, milder foods that are less likely to increase discomfort. Cold options, such as ice cream, popsicles, or milkshakes can provide additional relief.
- Use over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, if discomfort is affecting the ability to eat, sleep, or perform daily activities. Do not give aspirin to patients under 20 years old, as it can cause a serious illness called Reye’s syndrome in rare cases.
- Rinse the mouth several times daily with a salt water mixture (one cup water and ½ teaspoon of salt). Be sure your child does not swallow the salt water mix.
- If your child is too young to rinse with salt water or other mouth rinses, make a baking soda paste with water and apply it to the canker sore after each meal. Over-the-counter topical medications are also available. When applying medicine directly to the canker sore, dry the affected area by blotting gently with a tissue, and use a cotton swab to place the medicine on the ulcer. Avoid eating or drinking for 30 minutes after application.
Can Recurring Canker Sores Be Prevented?
While canker sore recurrence cannot always be prevented, there are steps that can be helpful in lessening occurrences in your child.
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and maintain proper oral hygiene.
- If your child is prone to canker sores, use a toothpaste without sodium lauryl sulfate. Choose a child-friendly toothpaste, such as Rembrandt Natural Toothpaste.
- Avoid any foods that have caused an allergic reaction or been a trigger for canker sores in the past.
- If orthodontics is involved, utilize dental wax to protect the cheeks.
- Eat healthy to promote strong teeth and proper nutrition.
Treating Canker Sores – When to See a Doctor
If a canker sore persists longer than two weeks or is causing severe pain or accompanied by high fever and/or difficulty swallowing, see your doctor for an evaluation. Large canker sores or ulcers that spread to the lips also warrant a doctor visit. Multiple sores may be a symptom of Hand-Foot-Mouth Disease, which is a contagious illness that usually affects children under 5.
If your child continues to experience recurring canker sores (more than 2-3 times per year), your pediatrician may want to run diagnostic tests to determine if an underlying medical condition is the cause. Testing may include:
- Allergy testing
- Blood tests
- Culture or biopsy of the affected area
Depending on the test results, chronic canker sores may be treated by change in diet, food avoidance, and/or supplementing with multivitamins.
If your child is experiencing recurring canker sores (aphthous ulcers) or you would like more information about Treating Canker Sores (Aphthous Ulcers), please contact our office for an appointment with one of our pediatric dentists.
At Kids Dental, we offer comprehensive, family-centered pediatric dental care in a child-friendly nurturing environment. If you are looking for a place to call your dental home, please schedule a consultation with one of our pediatric dentists by completing an Online Appointment Request or calling either office.