Is Your Child’s Mouth Sore Cantankerous?

facial pain
  1. bad-tempered, argumentative, and uncooperative.
    “a crusty, cantankerous old man”

Many parents have contacted me, concerned about their child’s sudden onset of oral pain. They report that their child can’t eat or sleep well, and brushing teeth is more than torturous for them. When asked, their child points inside their mouth as the source of discomfort and upon investigation, what parents uncover looks something like this:

apthous ulcer

An apthous ulcer. Otherwise referred to as, a cantankerous canker sore.

Canker sores can be found almost anywhere inside the mouth; They begin as small red circular swellings that usually ulcerate [rupture] within a day, after which they become white, surrounded by reddish inflammation and can last 8-10 days. As open sores, they can be very painful to the touch.

Not to be confused with a cold sore, which is caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus, a canker sore’s etiology is still yet unknown. And even though their cause has yet to be discovered, they appear to breakout more in stressful situations, from getting a small “nick” in the mucous membrane [soft tissue inside the mouth] or from foods such as citrus fruits and tomatoes.  While they can occur in very young children, they are usually first seen between the ages of 10-20. It’s not uncommon for them to erupt 3-4 times a year, but they occur less frequently or stop all together in adults.

When your child experiences canker sores, avoid feeding them rough textured or spicy foods that will irritate the affected area. In other words, a soft, bland, room temperature diet is best. Examples of such food choices are macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, and scrambled eggs. Try not to touch the sores with eating utensils or a toothbrush. The Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, in recent months, released a report that discourages the use of topical anesthetics, such as Orajel, in small children as a means to alleviate oral discomfort. Instead, children’s Motrin or Tylenol is suggested.

With some time and lots of TLC, canker sores resolve completely.

Yours truly,

Dr. Jackie

IMG_4078_4_2_2Dr. Jackie is a pediatric dental specialist and has been certified by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Her specialty training began at Columbia University College of Dental Medicine and continued on to New York University College of Dentistry, the NYU Langone Medical Center, Bellevue Hospital and the Rose F. Kennedy Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center. She was awarded for her excellence and achievements in the field of pediatric dentistry by both the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Society of Dentistry for Children, honors traditionally given to one recipient each, per graduating year. Dr. Jackie has been providing excellent care in private practice since 2003. To learn more about our office or to schedule an appointment for your child, please visit us online or call us at (858) 755-0050.

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