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What Causes Mouth Ulcers in Children?

By Marco Sumayao
Updated Jan 24, 2024
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The most common cause of mouth ulcers in children is mishandling. Oral lesions caused by rough use of a toothbrush, biting of the cheek, or other such actions are referred to as traumatic ulcers. Recurrent mouth ulcers in children might also be a result of viral or bacterial infections. These ulcers are caused by a variety of organisms, including the Coxsackie and herpes simplex viruses. In the event that mouth ulcers in children are caused by oral infections, it is recommended that immediate treatment is sought to prevent any possible complications.

Children often suffer from traumatic ulcers simply because they aren't accustomed to taking proper care of their mouths. It is quite common for very young children to wound their gums or cheeks as a result of brushing their teeth too vigorously. Similarly, children might accidentally bite their own tongues, cheeks, and lips when chewing or talking, or even during rough play. The damage can sometimes develop into open sores that cause discomfort. Fortunately, traumatic mouth ulcers in children lessen in frequency as the children age and gain better motor control around their mouths.

Recurrent mouth ulcers in children, on the other hand, are usually the result of an oral infection. A buildup of bacterial plaque, for example, can lead to gingivitis and cause ulcerations in the gums. An infection by the Coxsackie virus can cause small red lesions to form in the mouth, hands, and other infected areas; this condition is commonly known as hand, foot and mouth disease. In rare cases, mouth ulcers are a result of an infection by the herpes simplex virus. Vitamin deficiencies and conditions that weaken the immune system put children at greater risk of infection.

Mouth ulcers caused by infections are generally treated by a combination of medication and preventative measures. Although mouth ulcer medication is generally sufficient in eliminating the symptoms, the lesions can return if the child isn't taught how to avoid infection. General cleanliness tips, such as avoiding putting one's hand in the mouth after touching dirty objects, are just as important as the actual treatment. It is also crucial to seek immediate treatment if the cause of mouth ulcers in children is a more serious condition, such as a herpes infection or a severely weakened immune system. If left unchecked, these infections can spread beyond the mouth and lead to medical complications with life-long consequences for the child.

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