The cold winter season comes with many welcome surprises and celebrations, but waking up with a canker sore certainly isn’t one of them. If your little one has been complaining of painful mouth sores, they aren’t alone. At Stellar Kids Dentistry in Mukilteo, Mill Creek, and Everett, Washington, we always see an increase in canker sores around the holiday season.
Right now, you might be wondering why this happens once temperatures start to drop and how you can treat it. Canker sores can be especially uncomfortable for children, particularly if they haven’t had one before.
Fortunately, the Stellar Kids team is here to answer your questions and help you find the right solution for these painful mouth ulcers.
What is a canker sore?
Canker sores are small, shallow ulcers inside the mouth. They typically appear behind the lips, inside the cheeks, on the tongue, or in the back part of the roof of the mouth. A canker sore looks like a little red blister. Your child may only have one sore, but several can appear at a time.
These irritating red bumps usually aren’t cause for concern, but they are a nuisance. If your child bites their lip or the inside of their cheek, the sore can bleed and become inflamed.
What causes canker sores?
While experts don’t know exactly what causes canker sores, we do know that certain risk factors can raise your child’s chances of getting them. These include:
Diets lacking in folic acid, iron, and vitamin B-12 can make your child more prone to canker sores. To prevent these tender mouth sores, make sure your child has a well-balanced diet that includes leafy greens, lean meats, and fiber-rich legumes.
Certain toothpastes and mouth rinses
Sodium lauryl sulfate is an ingredient commonly found in certain toothpastes that creates foam when you brush your teeth. In some mouth rinses, it also acts as a surface cleaning agent. Unfortunately, many children have sensitive gums and soft tissues that don’t respond well to this additive. To prevent canker sores, look for products made for sensitive teeth and gums.
Children are especially vulnerable to mouth injuries. Even biting the inside of your cheek can lead to a canker sore. If your child accidentally bites their cheek or lip while playing or running, apply a cold compress or allow ice chips to dissolve over the sore. This can reduce pain and swelling.
Viruses and infections
Ever notice how you have canker sores more often when you have a cold? That’s because your immune system is weakened. The common cold, flu, and other viruses and infections lower your immunity, making you and your family more prone to canker sores.
Why are canker sores more common during winter?
Simply put, the winter months are a breeding ground for canker sores and mouth ulcers in general. During these cold months, your child’s mouth is going to be drier than normal. Saliva is essential for removing plaque and bacteria. Without adequate saliva, bacteria and food debris can leave their soft tissues vulnerable to mouth ulcers.
Winter is also the most common time for viral infections, such as the flu, so it makes sense that you and your family would be more prone to canker sores and cold sores.
Finally, the winter season is often synonymous with the holidays. During the holidays, most people are more likely to set aside their healthy green veggies for sweet treats, like chocolate. While chocolate on its own won’t cause canker sores, it can irritate existing ulcers.
How can I stop my child from getting canker sores?
There are many ways you can help your child prevent canker sores, including:
- Follow a healthy diet
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush
- Avoid irritating toothpaste and mouth rinses
- Reduce stress
- Use orthodontic wax to cover sharp edges of braces
If you notice your child getting canker sores more frequently, it may be a good idea to avoid certain citrus fruits, such as grapefruit and oranges.
What are the treatments for canker sores?
Home remedies, such as ibuprofen, ice chips, and over-the-counter (OTC) anesthetics, can help relieve pain from canker sores. If your child is still struggling with an inflamed mouth ulcer, however, bring them in to Stellar Kids Dentistry for a dental exam.
When necessary, your child’s dentist can prescribe anti-inflammatory corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
To schedule an appointment with the team at Stellar Kids Dentistry, call or book online today!