Baby and child mouth ulcers: What are the common causes?
There are many different reasons children and babies get canker sores or mouth ulcers. In adults and adolescents it could be due to fillings or braces, but these are less of an issue for younger children. Instead, causes of child or baby mouth ulcers might be hard food or accidentally biting the tongue/cheek with their own teeth. Sometimes they can also be caused by harder to recognise factors such as:
- Eating particular foods (chocolate, cheese and wheat do it for some people)
- Using toothpaste with the chemical sodium lauryl sulphate
- Bacterial infections
What do mouth ulcers in children and babies actually look like?
There are some key signs to help you recognise canker sores and mouth ulcers. If you think your child might be suffering, sit them down and inspect their mouth, tongue and lips. Use a bright torch if you have one to hand, being sure not to shine it in their eyes. Then, look out for:
- Single ‘welt-like’ spots. These sometimes look like little craters
- Clusters of craters (sometimes multiple ulcers develop in a small patch)
- Dark red, yellow, grey or white discolouration around the welt
NB: Be careful to distinguish ulcers from cold sores. Cold sores are also common in children and babies and look more like a rash. They develop round the lips or mouth, producing a tingling or burning sensation.
If you’ve discovered mouth ulcers in your child, don’t worry; they are generally pretty harmless and self-limiting.
Mouth ulcer treatments for children and babies
If you've discovered your child has mouth ulcers, don’t worry; they are generally pretty harmless and self-limiting. There are "however" a few things you can do to help relieve any pain. Here’s our list of how to treat mouth ulcers or canker sores in a child or baby:
- Try using a soft toothbrush.
- You could apply a protective paste recommended by your pharmacist.
- Try using a gentle toothpaste.
- Avoid rough, spicy or really hot food and drink.
Finally, if you’re at all worried, speak to your doctor or dentist for further advice. Some tell-tale signs to indicate it’s worth seeing a healthcare professional about ulcers are if they last three weeks, keep recurring or become more painful/red as this might be a sign of infection.
How to prevent baby and child mouth ulcers
Now you know the key basics on treating canker sores in children or babies, what can you do to prevent them coming back? First of all try to establish good oral hygiene in your child. Habits formed at a young age have a big impact down the line so getting your little one into a good teeth-brushing routine should help oral health issues in the future. If the problem persists, again see your doctor or dentist for advice, but whatever happens try not to worry too much. Mouth ulcers are common and will usually go away over time.
- Mouth ulcers can be caused by stress, chocolate, bacterial infections or certain toothpastes: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Mouth-ulcer/Pages/Introduction.aspx
- Mouth ulcers are common: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Mouth-ulcer/Pages/Introduction.aspx
- Mouth ulcers can be treated with a protective paste recommended by your pharmacist: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Mouth-ulcer/Pages/Introduction.aspx
- Mouth ulcers will usually go away over time: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Mouth-ulcer/Pages/Introduction.aspx
- Avoiding certain types of food and drink can encourage healing: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Mouth-ulcer/Pages/Introduction.aspx
- When to see a healthcare professional: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Mouth-ulcer/Pages/Introduction.aspx