Special for Children under 12, $89 For Exam, Cleaning and X-Rays! Learn More

Should Your Child See a Dentist About Mouth Sores?

Child frowning

If your child has mouth sores, they could be from many different causes. Understanding common signs, symptoms, and how to treat mouth sores in your child will help you make better-informed decisions about whether or not you should seek pediatric dental care.

Compare these common sores to learn what type your child might have and how to treat them.

How to Treat Mouth Sores in Your Child

Besides encouraging gentle oral care routines and habits, try the following treatments at home:

  • Make sure their toothbrush has soft bristles.
  • Check toothpaste for ingredients that may irritate canker mouth sores in your child, such as SLS.
  • If your child is old enough, have them rinse with warm salt water a few times per day.
  • To soothe, apply baking soda directly to the area following meals.
  • Use ice to reduce pain.
  • Avoid abrasive and acidic foods and beverages.
  • Give your child soft, bland foods or cut, mash, grind, blend, and puree foods, making it easier for them to chew and swallow.
  • Make sure your child stays hydrated and gets enough rest.
  • Speak to a pediatric dentist about prescribing a topical ointment or antimicrobial mouthwash, depending on the type of mouth sores present in your child.
  • Speak to your pediatrician or pharmacist about over-the-counter pain medication.

Canker Sores

Canker sores, or aphthous ulcers, are the leading cause of mouth ulcers commonly found in children after the age of 5. They are characterized by round red, white, or gray ulcers that develop inside the soft tissue of a child’s mouth inside the cheeks and around the tongue. These child mouth sores are quite painful, though not contagious (passed from person to person). Canker sores last between 7 to 14 days, on average, and should completely heal in 1 to 3 weeks.

Canker sores can be reoccurring and are caused by:

  • Minor injuries to the mouth’s lining, such as hard brushing, biting, braces pain, rough foods, hot liquids.
  • Food allergies.
  • Vitamin deficiencies.
  • Stress.
  • Immune disorders.
  • Infection.

Cold Sores

Cold sores are a form of simplex virus type 1 (HSV), a contagious virus that is passed through saliva or contact with someone who has a cold sore. Fluid-filled blister clusters can form on the gums, tongue, and lips or around the mouth, nose, and eyes. Cold sores are likely to heal in about 2 to 4 weeks.

Children may exhibit the following signs:

  • Fever.
  • Tiredness.
  • Sore throat.
  • Swollen gums and glands.
  • Yellowish ulcers surrounded by a red circle once the mouth sores in your child have burst.

There is no cure and repeat infections are typical, however, knowing how to treat mouth cold sores in your child at home, can reduce much of their pain and discomfort: 

  • Hydration (preferably water).
  • Bland foods.
  • Avoiding salty, spicy, or acidic foods.
  • Pain relief medication and/or antiviral creams.

How to prevent the spread of HSV: 

  • Refrain from touching and ensure your child cleans their hands thoroughly and regularly.
  • Keep your child’s utensils, towels, and such separate and clean.
  • Distance your child from others until the blisters stop weeping.

See a pediatric dentist or health professional if these mouth sores in your child do not heal within 2 weeks.

Child covering her faceTooth Abscesses

An abscess is caused by infection, normally associated with tooth decay. It appears as a pimple on the gum, whereby swollen gums around their tooth or face can occur. 

See a pediatric dentist immediately if you think your child may have developed a tooth abscess.


Cellulitis is a bacterial infection that can spread quickly, presented by redness of the skin, swelling, and fever. If signs of infection are detected on the face, it can be related to an abscessed tooth and will require immediate treatment from a pediatric dentist or other oral health professional.


Soft, bluish-grey mouth sores in a child, usually on the lower lip often caused by trauma, such as biting. 

Mucoceles usually burst and heal by themselves, but should they become a problem, consult with a pediatric dentist or another health professional for advice and treatment.

Eruption Cysts

A bluish, dome-shaped blister appears on the gum where a tooth is coming through. 

The cyst should burst once the tooth erupts. Only seek advice from a pediatric dentist on how to treat these mouth sores in your child if the area looks infected or doesn’t resolve, or within 2 weeks.

Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is often transmitted in children through the Coxsackie virus. This contagious virus typically presents in a child as red painful mouth sores inside the mouth as well as on the hands and feet. Symptoms can include a minor fever, sore throat, and lack of energy. Keep your child hydrated with water and give them soft foods to alleviate discomfort. HFMD should heal by itself within 1 week. 

In Summary

  • Mouth ulcers and oral thrush can be common in young babies and infants.
  • Avoid giving salty, acidic, or spicy foods when child mouth sores are present.
  • If mouth ulcers don’t heal within two weeks, consult with a pediatric dentist or other health professional.
  • An abscessed tooth resulting in swelling of the face requires an emergency pediatric dentist.

Pediatric Solutions

Girl at the dentist

At Toothfairy Pediatric Dental, we provide you with the best solutions and care for pediatric, orthodontics, and sedation dentistry. Regular checkups will guarantee happier, healthier smiles!

If you and your child live in the Reno, NV area and they’re suffering from prolonged or recurring mouth sores, contact us for their appointment.