A Canker Sore in a Toddler

Canker sores aren't only for grown-ups 2. If your toddler complains of pain in her mouth or has difficulty eating, have her open wide. If you notice a small white or reddish ring on the inside of her lips or on her gums, your child may have a canker sore. Canker sores usually are harmless and do not require medical treatment 2. If your toddler's pediatrician approves, you can use home remedies and at-home care to reduce the pain of a canker sore and speed up the healing time.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.


Canker sores aren't contagious, so your toddler probably didn't pick one up by sharing a drink or pacifier 2. If your child bites her lip or cuts it with a fork, this abrasion may become infected and cause a canker sore. Canker sores also may be caused by stress or a sensitivity to toothpaste 2. In rare cases, canker sores may be caused by Crohn's, Celiac or Behcet's disease or HIV and AIDS 2.


Your toddler's canker sore typically will go away within about 10 days. Certain foods, including acidic foods such as tomatoes and citrus fruits and spicy foods such as hot sauce and chili, may exacerbate the canker sore. Give your child liquids with a straw to keep the sore from getting irritated. If the canker sore is causing your child immense pain, take him to the pediatrician. His doctor may recommend applying a teething cream directly to the sore to temporarily numb the area.


In some cases, brushing with toothpastes that contain the foaming agent sodium lauryl sulfate, or SLS, may cause canker sores 2. If your toddler gets frequent canker sores, her pediatrician may recommend switching toothpastes 2. Toothpastes without SLS are available online and at some drugstores. If your child has a sensitivity to SLS, brushing with the new toothpaste may take the canker sores away for good 2.


In rare cases, canker sores may signify a serious medical complication or an infection 2. If your toddler's canker sore doesn't go away within two weeks, consult his pediatrician. Even if the sore just appeared, consult his doctor if your child has any accompanying symptoms, such as:

  • a fever
  • rash
  • other pain in the mouth
  • swollen glands or a sore throat

If your child is unable to eat or drink because the canker sore is so painful, take him to the doctor as soon as possible.