Mouth sores come in many different forms and are quite common in people of all ages, including young children. These irritating lesions usually aren’t a cause for concern, but can be quite annoying and painful. They can make eating, drinking and brushing teeth uncomfortable. However, there are several steps you can take to relieve your child of pain associated with a mouth sore and even help prevent sores from occurring.
Types of Mouth Sores
The first step in knowing how to treat a mouth sore is to figure out what type of sore it is. Most types of mouth sores can be distinguished by how they look and where they appear. The most common mouth sores to look for include:
- Cold sores – Also called a fever blister, this type of sore is usually found on the lips and around the mouth. It is a red, raised blister caused by the contagious herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). A child can contract the virus by kissing, sharing utensils or even a slobbery toy with an infected person. So as you can imagine, toddlers and preschool-aged children as especially susceptible to the virus.
- Canker sores – Canker sores are ulcers that occur inside the mouth and have a white or yellowish, concave center with a red border. They can form inside the cheeks, lips, the base of the gums, and on or under the tongue. Unlike cold sores, cankers sores are not contagious, but are brought on by a variety of causes. Biting the lip or cheek, diet, poor immune system, and stress are all factors that can contribute to a canker sore.
If your child has one of these types of sores, there are several things you can do to help remedy any pain or discomfort associated with the sore. Over-the-counter topical medications such as Abreva, Zilactin, Anbesol, Orajel or Orajel Baby, and pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can usually do the trick. Check the label on medications for age recommendations, and consult with your doctor before using it for a younger child. Ensure that your children are brushing their teeth with care and using a soft bristle toothbrush. Additionally, monitor what type of food they eat, as chips and other abrasive foods or spicy foods can irritate the sore even more. Common mouth sores will eventually heal on their own within a few days to a week.
While it can be difficult to prevent your child from getting a mouth sore, discouraging them from sharing cups and utensils or putting toys in their mouth can help prevent cold sores. Likewise, discouraging lip biting and ensuring your child has a well-rounded diet can help prevent canker sores.
If you find that your child’s mouth sores reoccur frequently, aren’t going away after several days, or are occurring with a fever, consult a dentist or doctor. A prescription medication or mouth rinse may be given to help progress healing and prevent more sores from returning.