The mouth is one of the most sensitive areas of the body so when kids get ulcers there, the pain and discomfort can be intense. Mouth ulcers are extremely common in kids, especially from puberty onwards and they can form anywhere within the mouth, including on the tongue or the gums and on the inside of the lip. Most often they are caused by viral infection. If you look inside your child’s mouth you’ll see a red, white or greyish lump of anything between a couple of millimetres and centimetre in diameter. Mouth ulcers may be so painful that they make eating or even talking difficult. So what causes them, and what’s the best treatment?
Ulcers arise when an infection gets into a cut or graze inside the mouth. Those cuts can be the result of chewing something tough, accidentally biting the mouth, brushing the teeth too hardm, or from eating something very hot or cold. Occasionally ulcers can be an allergic reaction to certain types of food and if your child already has an ulcer, salty snacks like crisps and fizzy drinks or very spicy foods, can make them worse. Kids are more likely to develop ulcers when they are tired, stressed or run down. Being low in iron or folic acid, which are found in fruit, veg and fish, can also make kids more susceptible, but sometimes ulcers appear for no obvious reason at all.
Ulcers aren’t infectious so they can’t be caught or passed on to anyone else.
Ulcers usually pass within a week and often it’s just a question of waiting until they clear up of their own accord. Your pharmacist will be able to provide certain ointments, and kids can also rinse their mouths out with a warm salt water solution. (Don’t let them swallow this though as it makes them sick!)
Mouth ulcers are often recurrent, so just because you’ve got rid of one, it doesn’t mean you child isn’t at risk from developing another. If, however, a single ulcer lasts for three weeks or more, let your doctor take a look in order to rule out any other more serious infection or condition.
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