Guide to Canker Sores

Freaked out by that white spot in your child's mouth, cheek, or gums? It's probably an aphthous ulcer, a.k.a. a canker sore.

By Holly Pevzner



Canker sores are not dangerous, but they can be a big nusiance. Here’s the lowdown on these painful little stinkers, from Nina Shapiro, M.D., director of pediatric otolaryngology (ENT) at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA:

Common Causes
Stress can bring on canker sores, but so can nicks inside your child’s mouth (from braces, say). If sores sprout up regularly — at least once a week — a food allergy or a low level of folic acid, B12, or iron may be the culprit, so check with the pediatrician.

The sores, which aren’t contagious, usually heal on their own within a week or so, but eating healthy foods and getting enough sleep can speed up the process, says Dr. Shapiro.

Quick Pain RX
Honey coats the sore and has anti-inflammatory properties that can work to quell pain. Have your child swish warm water for 10 to 20 seconds, then apply a thick gob of honey directly to the sore. Repeat as needed. Your doc can also suggest a soothing oral rinse with kaopectate and lidocaine.

If your kid’s got a canker sore, steer clear of crunchy snacks (think chips) and keep spicy, salty, and acidic foods of the menu — all can intensify discomfort. Toothpastes with sodium laureth sulfate (SLS) can make them feel worse, too, says Dr. Shapiro. (Tom’s of Maine and Burt’s Bees pastes are SLS free.)

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Photo Credit: Greg Cooksey/iStockphoto

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