6. Oral Ulcers

Small to middlesized ulcers found on the inner side of lips, the floor of the mouth, the inner side of the cheeks and on the tongue.

Aphthous ulcer (canker sore) Advice…

Has your child ever had herpes or mouth ulcers?
If the answer is yes, then you know how painful they can be, even though they are harmless. These harmless blisters can make eating, drinking and sleeping, a nightmare.

What are these small ulcers?
Aphthous ulcers (canker sores) are small to middlesized ulcers found on the inner side of lips, the floor of the mouth, the inner side of the cheeks and on the tongue. They take one to two weeks to disappear. There are not any definitive medical explanations as to why these uclers appear but genetic factors are involved. Stress or micro-trauma in the mouth (for example, due to a tooth brush injury or sharp crisp edges) may trigger ucler formation. Allergies to certain foods and/or hormonal changes are known etiological factors. Some indications are found for imbalances in the gastro-intestinal nervous system, explaining the stress factor or their occurrence after illness.

There are no known means of preventing these ulcers but there are a few sure things that you can do to prevent the ulcers from getting worse. Children typically get them when they are overtired because of a change in sleep patterns (such as on holidays). Also after birthday parties with many sweets or again on holidays when unusual foods are eaten.

The best way to deal with them is “to live healthily” and according to the clock, which means sleeping well and enough. Eat typically bland diet foods like potatoes and cooked vegetables; not too oily or too spicy. Get enough rest and avoid extremes. Realize they do take a while to go away and they are painful. Your dentist can prescribe a pain-easing ointment if necessary.

If your child gets oral ulcers rather often:

  • Make sure she/he is sleeping enough/regularly
  • Consider undue stressors in his/her life
  • Have meals always at the same time of day
  • Decrease your child’s consumption of acidic fruits like cherries, peaches, pineapple, tomatoes, citrus-fruit juice or other sour items

Herpes ulcers

These are just as unpleasant as the aphthous ulcers. They appear around the mouth on the lips and as a rule are made up of many tiny blisters coalescing as one pustule. The pustule may swell and then burst open, releasing a fluid substance, before it heals up with crust formation.

Different from Aphthous ulcer, the cause of Herpes blisters is known as the Herpes simplex Type 1 virus.   The first infection usually sets in at pre-school age and is accompanied by a reddish, swollen mucous membrane, bleeding gingiva, fever, swollen lymph nodes and lethargy.   After the first contact with this virus called Herpetic Gingivo-stomatitis, the virus sits passive in the basal cell ganglion of your child.  When the virus has found a home in a nerve cell, it can always become active in the future and cause ulcers again.  Factors known to trigger an attack are diseases, fever, and strong sunshine, and even a trauma can cause your child to suffer the same ordeal again.

A few suggestions to make the pain your child is suffering a little bit more bearable:

  • Make your child drink a lot of fluids to prevent dehydration
  • Giving your child a straw with which to drink the fluids may help decrease the unpleasantness
  • Apply or rinse with medication for the pain
  • Use a lip balm when the lips of your child are dry, cracked or chapped
  • If it increases to be too unbearable for the child to brush his or her teeth make him or her rinse his or her mouth with water after meals
If the ulcers do not disappear within 10 days, make an appointment with us to investigate