Mouth Ulcers and Children : Mouth Ulcer Guide

It isn’t only adults that develop mouth ulcers. Children and teenagers are also affected and experience mouth ulcers for much the same reasons.

In fact, you are most likely to develop a mouth ulcer between the ages of 10 and 40. So, they affect young people rather than older people but the likelihood of them occurring decreases with age. If you are a parent of a child who has developed a mouth ulcer then you may be wondering how to prevent this from happening. Unfortunately, this cannot be prevented but there are a few things you can do to stop them from getting worse.

Why do children develop mouth ulcers?

Here are a few reasons as to why children develop mouth ulcers:

  • Over-stimulation or ’over-tiredness’: if there is a change in routine or sleep patterns then this leads to over-tiredness which can suppress the immune system. If this happens then the child is prone to developing illnesses or infections such as mouth ulcers.
  • Biting or chewing inside of their cheek.
  • Using a toothbrush forcefully so that it damages the soft tissues inside the mouth.
  • Injury to the mouth caused by a sharp object or undue pressure.
  • Change in diet or increased consumption of sweets and sugary foods. This is more noticeable if the child has attended a party or after a special occasion, e.g. birthday.
  • Exposed to undue stress or anxiety.

Mouth ulcers in children are the same as those experienced by adults. They do take a bit of time to disappear –usually around a week to 10 days and they can be painful. Your child will experience pain from these when they eat or drink but this will ease after a short period of time.

There are over the counter remedies for mouth ulcers but you need to check with your GP, dentist or pharmacist as to their suitability for children.

Reducing the risk of mouth ulcers in children

We cannot prevent mouth ulcers in either adults or children but there are a few steps you can take to reduce the risk of them occurring or re-occurring as the case may be.

These include:

  • Ensure that your child gets enough sleep or follows a regular sleep pattern.
  • Ensuring that he/she has his/her meals at the same time each day.
  • Avoiding unnecessary stress.
  • Reduce or avoid acidic foods such as strawberries, pineapple, cherries, tomatoes and citrus fruits.

Mouth ulcers usually disappear without any need for treatment but if they become worse or last for longer than a couple of weeks then speak to your GP. He or she will be able to recommend a suitable course of treatment.

Can I use a home-based treatment such as Bonjela?

There have been reports in the media about the risk of Reye’s Syndrome in children under 16 who have used Bonjela gel. Bonjela contains an ingredient called salicylate salts which behave in the same way as aspirin. This gel is very effective at treating mouth ulcers in adults but should only be used by children aged 16 and above.

(Source: NHS Choices: Health News: 23 April 2009) However, Bonjela Teething Gel does not contain salicylate salts and is safe for use in children aged two months upwards.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has issued a precautionary message about this. They recommend that children under 16 should not take aspirin or any aspirin based product.

If you are unsure or worried by any of this then speak to your dentist, GP or pharmacist.

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