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Oral Care For Kids With Canker Sores

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

As an adult, you've probably experienced the pain and annoyance of having canker sores. So when your child has one or more, you totally get it. Helping them deal with it is hard. Getting them to keep up with an oral care routine and eat a good diet to improve their situation can be even more difficult. Here are some ideas to help your little ones deal with canker sore pain and discomfort.

What Are Canker Sores?

According to John Hopkins, canker sores (also known as aphthous ulcers) show up only on the inside of your mouth. They can be on your gums, under your tongue, and inside your cheeks. They are not contagious and usually go away on their own. Canker sores tend to run in families.

Brushing Your Child’s Teeth

If your child has a canker sore, he or she may not want to keep up with their regular oral health care routine (brushing and flossing) during a flare-up. Doing these things may be painful. If your child suffers from canker sores, it’s imperative that they don’t stop caring for their teeth. Keeping your child’s mouth clean will prevent more sores from appearing and heal the existing canker sores. Be gentle and patient, and reaffirm for your child that a clean mouth equals a healthy mouth. To make brushing less painful for the child, purchase the softest baby toothbrush you can find. The extra flexible bristles will not irritate your child’s sensitive gums as much as a stiff toothbrush. Instruct your child to avoid brushing over the canker sore. Also, be sure to choose a child-safe soothing toothpaste.

Using Mouthwash and Flossing

After brushing, help, or have your child floss (also referred to as interdental cleaning) as many teeth as possible. For the time being, skip areas next to the canker sores. If your child is old enough (age 2 and over), swishing and spitting an alcohol-free, antimicrobial mouthwash can be good for treating canker sores. Finish this routine by applying a child-safe oral numbing gel (canker sore medicine) on each sore to soothe the pain. You may use the tip of a soft cotton swab to apply the medication.

Canker Sore Diet Tips

Spicy and heavily seasoned foods irritate canker sores. Feed your child a soft, bland diet. Soothing types of foods can include scrambled eggs, oatmeal, creamy soup, Greek yogurt, tofu, macaroni and cheese, steamed vegetables, applesauce, pancakes, and protein shakes. According to the American Dental Association, foods that are rich in protein, zinc, and vitamins A and C are good for your mouth. Make sure your child continues to drink lots of fluids. Cold beverages, including ice water, milk, and diluted grape juice, are least likely to irritate the sores.

According to the Mayo Clinic, minor canker sores take anywhere from one to two weeks to clear up. Although canker sores are painful, you should still encourage your child to keep up with daily oral care. Be patient with your little patient. Use alcohol-free dental products and offer a diet of bland, soft foods until your child’s mouth is all better.


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This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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