If your child develops canker sores in his or her mouth, you want to make a pediatric dental appointment as soon as you can. Canker sores can form in your child's mouth from several things, including fluoride toothpaste. Until his or her dental appointment, you can make some simple changes in your child's oral care to help alleviate the symptoms he or she may experience because of the mouth sores. Here's what you should know about canker sores and the changes you can make to help your child feel better.

What Are Canker Sores?

Canker sores can develop in adults and children who have dental and health problems, such as sensitive mouths or stomach infections. Other canker sore triggers include stress, mouth abrasions and chemicals like fluoride.The sores are not contagious to anyone else, nor do they spread to the rest of your child's body. The sores may form on his or her:

  • gums and inner cheeks
  • inner lips
  • soft palate and roof of the mouth
  • tongue

Because the sores expose the delicate tissues beneath the inner lining of the mouth, your child may experience bleeding and sensitivity to foods that contain salt, onions, garlic, and hot peppers. Juices with citrus fruit may also cause pain and discomfort in your little one's mouth sores.  

The above food items may contain acids and chemical compounds that burn the tissues exposed by the sores. In order to reduce the symptoms of the mouth sores, you may want to avoid letting your child use fluoride toothpaste until he or she sees the dentist.

How Does Fluoride Toothpaste Affect Your Child's Mouth?

Although allergic reactions to regular fluoride toothpaste are rare, your son or daughter may develop canker sores if he or she is sensitive to it. The fluoride in the toothpaste may cause the inner lining or mucosa of the mouth to break down or open up in places. This breakdown of tissue exposes the nerves and blood vessels beneath the inner lining.

Fluoride generally protects teeth from cavities by keeping the enamel thick and healthy. But fluoride toothpaste may be too strong for your child's softest mouth tissues because it contains large or concentrated amounts of the mineral. Large tubes may contain over 200 milligrams of fluoride and small tubes may contain as much as 150 milligrams. Even if you place a pea-sized amount of the toothpaste on your child's toothbrush, it may still contain enough fluoride to irritate his or her mouth.

There's a way to protect your child's teeth without the use of fluoride toothpaste until the dentist evaluates him or her in the office. You can try alternatives like thyme mouth rinse to soothe and cleanse your child's mouth.

How Can You Make Thyme Mouth Rinse?

Thyme is a natural herb that gives off a fresh and fragrant scent. It contains antioxidants that fight bacteria to help your child's mouth sores heal. You can purchase fresh thyme from the produce section of a natural food store or grocery store. 

You can make your child's thyme mouth rinses by steaming several stems with the leaves still attached in a coffee pot or tea kettle. The water should look green after you steam the herbs. The green color comes from the oil found inside the thyme's leaves. The oil also contains the most antioxidants.

Afterward, you simply remove the stems from the water and then follow these steps below:

  • Allow the hot water to cool for about 20 minutes, then pour it into a clean container like a water bottle to keep it fresh
  • Place 1-2 teaspoons of thyme mouth rinse into a small cup filled with warm water
  • Instruct your child to swish the solution around in the mouth for 30 seconds, then spit the contents into the sink
  • Dip your little one's toothbrush into the thyme rinse and have him or her brush away the plaque on his or her teeth with it
  • Have your little one rinse his or her mouth in cool water if he or she doesn't like the taste of thyme

This is only a temporarily solution that may help alleviate your child's mouth soreness and irritation. It's a good idea to use the mouth rinse at least twice a day for the best results.

If you have concerns about your child's canker sores and need an alternative until your little one sees a pediatric dentist, contact the dental office for additional assistance.