The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommend that every child be seen by a pediatric dentist by age one. It also encourages parents and other care providers to help every child establish a dental home by this age as well. The AAPD modeled the concept of the Dental Home based on the current Medical Home concept in Pediatric Medicine.
Also known as aphthous ulcers, canker sores are small sores that can occur inside the mouth, cheeks, lips, throat, or sometimes on the tongue. Canker sores shouldn’t be confused, however, with cold sores or fever blisters, which are sores that are caused by the herpes simplex virus and are found outside the mouth around the lips, on the cheeks or chin, or inside the nostrils. Whereas cold sores are contagious, canker sores are not contagious — so kissing cannot spread them.
At a different time we will certainly discuss all issues concerning sores that are caused by the herpes simplex virus. However, if your child was diagnosed by your pediatric dentist or pediatrician with canker sores, you should definitely read the following.
Although canker sores aren’t contagious, the tendency to have outbreaks of canker sores can run in a family. If you’re prone to canker sores, your child has a 90% chance of getting them as well. If both parents are prone, unfortunately your child is even more prone. Although we don’t know exactly what causes canker sores, many factors are thought to put your child at risk.
Diet may be a factor. Children who have nutritional deficiencies of folic acid, vitamin B12, and iron seem to develop canker sores more often. Also, children with some food allergies are prone as well. Canker sores may also indicate that a child has an immune system problem.
Mouth injuries, such as biting the inside of your lip or even brushing too hard and damaging the delicate lining inside the mouth, also seem to bring on canker sores. Even emotional stress seems to be a factor. It’s always hard to imagine what kind of stress your three or four year old child may have; however, little stress can also go a long way with young children. One study of college students showed that they had more canker sores during stressful periods, such as around exam time, than they did during less stressful times, such as summer break.
Although anyone can get them, young people in their teens and early twenties seem to get those most often, and females are twice as likely to develop them as males. Some girls and women find that they get canker sores at the start of their menstrual periods.
One of the most common questions my staff gets asked daily is regarding the recommended toothpaste for children. Which toothpaste is the best? What do you recommend? Should we use fluoride?