Babies can develop mouth ulcers for many reasons. They often heal naturally in 7 to 14 days but may require medical attention if there are many, they spread, or your baby has other symptoms like a fever.

baby with mouth ulcers being held by a siblingShare on Pinterest
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Your baby’s gummy grin likely brings a smile to your face. But that smile may quickly become a look of concern if you notice white bumps that aren’t teeth inside their mouth.

Mouth ulcers are small painful bumps on the mouth, gums, or tongue. They can be caused by viruses, injuries, and even vitamin deficiencies.

They are reported in about 9% of children and typically resolve in a few weeks with minimal complications.

Symptoms of ulcers in a baby’s mouth include:

  • sores on the lips, gums, tongue, inner cheeks, or roof of their mouth
  • pain even when not eating

Mouth ulcers are typically round or oval in shape and frequently appear white, gray, yellow, or red in color.

In many cases, ulcers in your baby’s mouth will clear up on their own in 1 or 2 weeks.

If your child’s doctor identifies an underlying condition like oral thrush causing mouth ulcers, they may recommend a treatment plan. Otherwise, treatment will likely focus on relieving pain while ulcers heal.

Your child’s doctor may suggest over-the-counter pain medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) to help with the pain. They may also suggest coating the ulcers with a dental paste or liquid antacids like Maalox or Milk of Magnesia.

In more severe cases, prescription steroids can sometimes help reduce pain.

You can try several things at home to reduce the pain caused by your child’s mouth ulcers:

  • Give your baby something cool, like a cloth soaked with cold water, to suck on. Be sure to supervise them and do not give them hard, frozen objects to suck on.
  • For babies old enough to eat baby foods, avoid feeding them foods that are spicy, salty, or sour.
  • Talk with your child’s doctor about using numbing mouth gel, coconut oil, or aloe vera in the area.
  • Keep nursing, if you typically do.
  • Encourage your child to take small, frequent sips of water to avoid dehydration and additional pain from dry mouth.

Home remedies that help relieve teething pain may also help relieve the pain from mouth ulcers.

Ulcers in a baby’s mouth can be caused by many things, including:

Cold sores or fever blisters may also cause ulcers on the outside of your baby’s mouth.

Mouth ulcers may be more likely if your child has:

Your child’s doctor will likely be able to diagnose ulcers in a child’s mouth visually during a physical exam. To determine whether a specific underlying condition is causing the ulcers, the doctor may perform some blood tests or swab the ulcer.

Does my child need to stay home from school if they have mouth ulcers?

Canker sores are not contagious and won’t require your child to stay home. However, if your child has a fever or many mouth ulcers, they should be checked by a doctor before heading back to school.

When should my child see a doctor about their mouth ulcers?

If mouth ulcers don’t improve in 1 to 2 weeks, get worse, or are accompanied by other symptoms like fever or vomiting, you should notify your child’s doctor.

What can I do to help prevent ulcers in my baby’s mouth?

Good oral healthcare, like brushing your child’s teeth or gums twice per day, can help. Eating a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals can also help.

If the mouth ulcers are due to a virus or other condition, treating and managing the underlying condition can help prevent reoccurrences.

Mouth ulcers are fairly common and can be due to many different causes.

If your child has mouth ulcers that linger for more than 2 weeks or are accompanied by other signs of illness like a fever, it’s important to speak with their pediatrician or healthcare professional. They can help you identify and treat any underlying causes.