Causes of Mouth Ulcer and How to Treat Them?

Spotting a mouth sore (ulcer) in your child’s mouth is a matter of concern. While having mouth ulcer, a child feels pain, especially when he/she eats salty or spicy food. there are many causes of mouth ulcer in kids. Children might refuse to take food till they get rid of these sores. Mouth ulcers are painful areas on gums, inner lips, tongue, roof and floor of mouth caused by loss of delicate tissue of the mouth.

They can be white, red, yellow or grey in color and there are possibilities to have more than one ulcer at a time. Growing kids are at a higher risk of having mouth ulcers. They make it uncomfortable to eat, drink or brushing the teeth. In most of the cases there is nothing to worry. They go away by themselves in around 7 to 14 days. However, if they exist for more than two weeks and develop larger in size, it is always advisable to visit a doctor. Kids having a family history of mouth ulcers are most prone to develop them. Although no one knows the exact reasons for mouth ulcer there are some causes of ulcer in mouth.

Causes of ulcer in mouth:

Traumas and injury– These are the most common cause of ulcer in mouth especially in kids. It includes accidental biting of your cheek (inside), injury from a toothbrush, constant rubbing of dentures or braces, burns from eating hot food. All of the mentioned things usually cause single mouth ulcers.

Fungal Infection– Ulcers in the mouth sometimes happen due to overgrowth of yeast (a type of fungus) normally lives inside our mouth and throat. It overgrows in kids, who have been taking antibiotics or have weak immune systems. (How to easily build immunity?)

Acidic food or drinks– Citrus fruits, acidic food and spicy food can be the cause of ulcer in mouth. Fruits such as oranges, pineapple, lemon, grapes and tomatoes can cause stress on the tissues in the mouth and cause sores, apart from this very spicy and salty food should also be avoided which can lead to further irritation.

Lack of vitamin B12– When a kid doesn’t get enough vitamin B12, his/her body produces abnormally large red blood cells, which can be the reason for sores in mouth and sometimes for red bumpy tongue too. (What are some food source of vitamin B12?)

Stress– Stress affects the overall health of your kid badly. In some cases it has been found that kids bite their inner cheeks and lips if something bothers them, which can also be the causes of ulcer in mouth. (How to lower stress with food?)

Hormonal changes– Hormonal changes that occur due to puberty and menstruation may cause mouth ulcer.

Nutrients and foods that prevents mouth ulcer:

Vitamin B12: Deficiency of vitamin B12, can lead to mouth ulcer. Other symptoms of its deficiency are feeling a lack of energy, tiredness, having sore and red tongue. By incorporating vitamin B12 rich food like milk, yogurt, cheese, eggs, chicken, fish in your kid’s diet, you can help in preventing regular mouth ulceration. (What are the best fruits for teenagers to manage hormones?)

Folate: It has been noticed in several studies that mouth ulcer can be caused by deficiency of folic acid. Food rich in folate such as green leafy vegetables, beetroot, broccoli, nuts and seeds, wheat gram and avocado can help in fighting mouth ulcers. (What are some easy folate food sources?)

Zinc: A recent study indicates low zinc level can increase the risk of oral ulceration. It is a mineral which boosts our immunity so it can help to fight off bacteria that causes ulcer in mouth. It also helps in healing wounds. Food sources that can help to compensate for zinc deficiency are chickpeas, lentils, beans, eggs, whole grain and dairy foods like milk and cheese.

Iron: Dry mouth, sore, swollen or smooth tongue can be symptoms of iron deficiency. If a kid is suffering from repetitive mouth ulceration, including iron intake in his/her diet can help to a great extent in overcoming this. Food rich in iron such as spinach, quinoa, white beans, dark chocolate, soybeans, tofu, dry fruits and tomatoes help in fixing iron deficiency. (How much does iron cookware benefit iron intake?)

Treatment of mouth ulcers:
  • Apply ice on affected area
  • Rinse your mouth with salt water or baking soda
  • Drink cool chamomile tea
  • Brush gently
  • Avoid acidic or spicy food
  • Eat healthy and balanced diet
  • Reduce stress by indulging your kids in their favorite activities
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Milk of magnesia is advisable to apply on mouth ulcer
Home remedies for mouth ulcers:

Honey is loaded with vitamins, minerals and amino acids that have anti-bacterial, anti- fungal, and antioxidant properties. According to a research, honey helps in minimizing the size, redness, and pain occurs due to mouth ulcers. It also prevents affected areas from further infection. Applying honey on ulcers for at least ten minutes and repeating the process three to four times a day may provide some relief.


With lots of medicinal properties turmeric has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory abilities. Which makes it perfect to reduce the inflammation caused by ulcer. Mix a bit of turmeric powder with little water. Apply this paste on an effective area for a couple of minutes and rinse off. Do this at least twice a day. It also helps in fighting further infections. (What are other ayurveda herbs good for kids?)

Poppy seeds (khas khas):

Due to its cooling effect, poppy seeds are considered as best for treating mouth ulcers. Which can be a cause of excess body heat. The bio active compounds in poppy seed encourage tissues to regenerate and promote healing of ulcers.

Holy basil (Tulsi):

Tulsi leaves have been scientifically proven to have medicinal properties. It also has antibacterial effects, which can destroy more than 99% of the bacteria and germs in your mouth and therefore helps in fighting mouth ulcer. Chewing 2 to 3 leaves of Tulsi leaves at least 3 to 4 times a day not only helps in reducing pain and redness, but also prevents recurrence.

Liquorice (Mulethi): 

This perennial herb not only treats cold and cough, but also helps in cleaning your stomach and remove toxins that could be responsible for mouth ulcers. It has been studied that mulethi contains anti-inflammatory property which help in reducing mouth ulcers. Make a paste of liquorice powder with some honey and apply this on ulcers, repeat this for 2 to 3 times a day for better results. (What other ailments does licorice help kids in?)

Recipe for Ulcers:

  • 1 tsp roasted turmeric
  • 1 tsp licorice powder
  • 1 tsp honey

Mix and apply on the ulcer. Even if the kid eats this, it will only help fight the infection. Apply 3-4 times a day. The taste is just great, kids wont say no 🙂


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