Canker sores – those painful blisters in the mouth that make your little one’s life difficult. You dread them as much because it’s equally painful to see your little one bear the pain. More so when your child is unable to consume food because of the pain. While these sores generally appear on the inner side of the lips, they can also develop on the inside of the cheeks, gums, tongue, palate (roof of the mouth), and sometimes a little deeper, near the throat. Canker sores usually occur in people of ages 10-20. However, even toddlers are prone to it.
What Results In Canker Sores?
While the exact reason is still unknown, it is largely believed that stress or tissue injury can trigger canker sores, especially among adults. And so do certain citric fruits and vegetables. However, among toddlers, the reason could be an underlying health issue, a weak immune system, or a nutritional deficiency like vitamin D, vitamin B-12, folic acid, or iron deficiency (1).
How To Treat Canker Sores
You cannot do much about a canker sore when it develops. However, they do resolve on their own in a matter of 6-7 days (2). But when it does occur, here’s how you can treat them:
1. Apply A Soothing Gel Or Pack
As the pain is high right at the onset, you can apply a good over-the-counter mouth ulcer gel to soothe the pain. If the ulcer is on the lips or tongue, you can also apply a pack made out of tea bags. Tea contains tannins, which is a natural astringent (3). This helps in drying out the sore. Just place a used teabag in the fridge. Once it is sufficiently cool, apply the pack on the sore area for up to 10 minutes. Repeat the process after each meal or when your kid is sleeping.
2. Avoid Foods That Can Worsen The Pain
Citric fruits and juices like orange, apple, lemons, and vegetables such as tomatoes should be avoided. Also, avoid highly spicy food as it may worsen the pain when it comes in contact with the sore. Avoid junk foods like potato chips or salted nuts as they may cause abrasion to the sore.
3. Go Soft On The Brushes
Brushing really hard can also cause abrasions and worsen the sores. This can cause a delay in the healing process. So, it is prudent to use a brush with soft bristles. Also, avoid excessive use of toothpaste. A pea-sized amount is sufficient for your child.
4. Increase Yogurt Intake
Yogurt contains probiotics, which are known to promote the growth of ‘good’ bacteria. These bacteria help in containing the growth of harmful bacteria inside the gut. However, ensure that the yogurt contains live bacteria and hasn’t been through a heating process post fermentation. Otherwise, it is best to go with home-made yogurt (4).
5. Warm Salt Water Rinse
Salt water is widely believed to contain anti-inflammatory properties (5). Take a glass of slightly warm or tepid water and mix a pinch of rock salt to it. Once the salt dissolves completely, make your child rinse his/her mouth with it. However, ensure that your child doesn’t consume this water after rinsing but spits it out. This will help in the faster healing of the sore.
We hope that these tips help in reducing the pain and swelling of the canker sores. However, if the pain gets too much to handle, it is better to consult a pediatrician. You can also consult the doctor before applying any over-the-counter gel and go by his/her recommended mouth ulcer gel. The doctor knows which gel is suitable for little kids. He/she may also prescribe a week’s course of a vitamin supplement – generally in the form of a syrup – to address any vitamin deficiency.
Having said this, let not canker sores come in the way of your child’s daily activities. Give your child enough fluids (avoid citric juices), a liquid diet until the sore resolves, and allow him/her to play outside and get enough sunshine. Your child should be fine soon!