What do to when your child gets a cold sore? This is a very common question we get here at Junior Smiles Children’s Dentistry®. In most instances, parents can’t see where their child’s pain is coming from and often think the pain is coming from a tooth.
How to Recognize a Cold Sore or Canker in Your Child’s Mouth
During an oral examination, the dentist may stretch the cheek out and find a white or yellowish ulcer on the gums right below the teeth. Most times there is a red ring surrounding the sore. Most commonly, this ulcer is called a “Canker Sore” These ulcers sting and may have increased pain when eating. This pain is caused from food rubbing against the sore spots.
Some Causes of Cold Sores
Some ulcers are caused by a virus such as the Herpes Simplex Virus…..This virus is very common with nearly 90% of the human population as a carrier. Passing the virus can happen from parent to child, family relative to child, or even child to child when sharing kisses, spoons, forks, cups, and food. These ulcers re-emerge occasionally and for most people it’s only once a year. Some people, however, get these type of ulcers because of some other triggering factors are stress, trauma to the mouth, and UV radiation from the sun.
Child’s First Exposure
In cases which children are first exposed to the virus, they may have lots of ulcers in the mouth, with swollen gums and a high fever. We see this in a lot of younger children under the age of 6; however, it is not limited by age – only by the time of the exposure.
Food Related Ulcers
Other common ulcers are caused by factors that we are still unsure of the exact cause. These are called Neutropenic Ulcers or Aphthous Ulcers. The main factors that correlate with these type of ulcers include their children eating chocolate, cinnamon, changing their normal tooth paste, stress, and lack of sleep.
Healing Cold Sores or Cankers
In most cases, these ulcers heal on their own and your pediatric dentist will tell you to just monitor your child for healing. Healing will take 7-14 days in most children.
Antibiotics Won’t Help
Antibiotics will not help to heal the cold sore. Your pediatric dentist may recommend OraBase which is a gel that coats the ulcer and makes eating more comfortable. Your dentist may also recommend Magic Mouthwash to use. This mouthwash numbs the ulcers for a period of time so your child can eat without pain. This is typically prescribed by your pediatric dentist when the ulcers are more severe. If your child has multiple recurrences of large ulcers in every month, steroids may be considered an option.
When to see your pediatric dentist
If your child does show signs of multiple ulcers in the mouth, it is important that you see your pediatric dentist as soon as possible for further instruction. If your child has not consumed food or fluids in the last 12 hours, your pediatric dentist may instruct you to take your child to the emergency room for immediate attention.
If you are unsure or concerned about ulcers in the mouth our board-certified pediatric dentists are here for you and are happy to see you for a dental evaluation.
Image Courtesy of New Kids Center.