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Treatments and Remedies to Soothe Your Child’s Mouth Ulcer

A mouth ulcer can be uncomfortable and challenging for children. Ease the discomfort with these soothing remedies.

A girl touches her lip and applies ointment to heal a mouth ulcer.

About one in five people has had a mouth ulcer, which is not contagious or serious. But these sores can cause discomfort and pain, especially for young children. When children get them, they may find drinking, eating, and sometimes even speaking excruciating. 

You need to understand the possible causes of your child’s mouth ulcer to relieve their pain.

Symptoms and Causes of Mouth Ulcer 

A mouth ulcer develops in the soft tissue lining the insides of your mouth. It usually appears white or yellow, with a red outline indicating inflammation. Mouth ulcers, sometimes called aphthous ulcers (stomatitis), may also be caused by canker sores. But they are different from cold sores, which are contagious and appear on the lips rather than inside the mouth.

Viral infections often lead to mouth ulcers. Some experts observe children who are deficient in folic acid, iron, zinc and vitamin B12 are more likely to develop these types of sores. 

Mouth ulcers may also develop from injury. For example, your child may get it when they burn their mouth with hot food, accidentally bite the inside of the cheek, or from wearing dental braces. 

Treatments and Remedies for Mouth Ulcers

Young mother feeds her young daughter a spoonful of yoghurt
Eating soft and cool foods like yoghurt can help soothe your child’s mouth ulcer.

The good news is mouth ulcers clear on their own after one to two weeks. However, your child may lose their appetite from the pain during this time. So, take extra care in monitoring their food and water intake. 

Try the following remedies to keep your children comfortable: 

  • Encourage your child to drink cool liquid.  
  • Have your child gargle with a baking soda and water solution. You can also try a salt and water solution if your child can handle the sting.  
  • Let your child hold an ice cube or wet tea bag on the sore.  
  • Give your child soft, cooling, and nutritious foods like yoghurt. 

Avoid feeding your child with foods that can aggravate sores, such as: 

  • Rich, spicy, and salty foods  
  • Citrus juices like orange juice or lemonade  
  • Rough-textured foods like crackers and cookies 

You can also try over-the-counter topical anaesthetics like benzocaine and lidocaine. Consult your child’s paediatrician before using numbing gels or administering any medication to your child. Recurring mouth ulcers and sores that don’t heal require medical attention. 

TCM Remedies to Consider

A glass of pearl barley drink with a dish of barley seeds next to it, all on a white tablecloth.
A pearl barley drink can relieve pain from mouth ulcers. Avoid taking it hot since it may irritate sores further.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), mouth ulcers are usually the result of Excess Heat or Deficient Yin (cool energy). TCM physician Lim Sock Ling shares four syndromes leading to mouth ulcers and suggestions on herbal formulations to discuss with your TCM practitioner

  • Stomach Fire or Heat indicates excessive Heat or Fire in the stomach. It can cause mouth ulcers, bad breath, thirst, and bleeding gums. Try Tiao Wei Cheng Qi soup (调味承气汤) to remove Heat and Dryness.  
  • Heart Fire can cause mouth ulcers since the tongue is associated with the Heart. Other symptoms that show include frustration, insomnia, and redness on the tip of the tongue. Try Dao Chi San powder (导赤散) to clear the Heart.  
  • Kidney Yin Deficiency can cause a person to experience a dry mouth and throat, dizziness, hearing issues, hot flushes, ringing in the ears, and sweaty palms and feet. It can be treated with Liu Wei Di Huang Wan (六味地黄丸).
  • Wind Heat or Toxic Heat with symptoms such as a fever, sore throat, coughs, and aversion to cold, can be dispersed with Yin Qiao powder (银翘散) or Sang Ju powder (桑聚散). 

Many TCM formulations like the above have anti-inflammatory properties. The formulation of indigo (Qing Dai, 青黛), for example, was shown to significantly accelerate the healing of dental ulcers in animal models in a 2016 study. 

Your little one can take cooling drinks to soothe a mouth ulcer. For example, pearl barley (yi yi ren, 薏苡仁 ) is a delicious cooling drink found on many Malaysian restaurants’ menus and sold as tea bags. Your child may also like peppermint tea with its cooling effect and minty flavour. “Peppermint is present in Yin Qiao powder and Sang Ju powder,” Physician Lim shares.

While it will go away, mouth ulcers are uncomfortable for the little ones, especially if it’s their first time. Hopefully, you find one of the remedies here effective enough to turn your child’s frown upside down into a smile.

References

  1. Cleveland Clinic. 2021. Mouth Ulcer. [online] Available at: <https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/21766-mouth-ulcer> [Accessed 10 October 2022]
  2. Cleveland Clinic. 2022. Canker Sores. [online] Available at: <https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/10945-canker-sores> [Accessed 10 October 2022]
  3. InformedHealth.org. 2019. Canker sores (mouth ulcers): What can you do if you have a canker sore? [online] Available at: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK546251/> [Accessed 10 October 2022]
  4. SmallSmiles.org. 2020. My child has canker sores! How can I help? [online] Available at: <https://www.smallsmiles.org/blog/2020/11/my-child-has-canker-sores-how-can-i-help> [Accessed 10 October 2022]
  5. MyHealthAlberta, Government of Alberta, Canada. 2020. Canker Sore in Children: Care Instructions. [online] Available at: <https://myhealth.alberta.ca/Health/aftercareinformation/pages/conditions.aspx?hwid=av2506> [Accessed 10 October 2022]
  6. org. 2021. Canker Sores. [online] Available at: <https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/canker.html> [Accessed 10 October 2022]
  7. BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies. 2016. Anti-inflammatory and in-vitro antibacterial activities of Traditional Chinese Medicine Formula Qingdaisan. [online] Available at: <https://bmccomplementmedtherapies.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12906-016-1475-4> [Accessed 10 October 2022]
  8. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity. 2020. Molecular Mechanism of Functional Ingredients in Barley to Combat Human Chronic Diseases. [online] Available at: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7149453/> [Accessed 10 October 2022]
  9. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2021. Lophatherum gracile Brongn. attenuates neutrophilic inflammation through inhibition of JNK and calcium. [online] Available at: <https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0378874120331068> [Accessed 10 October 2022]

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