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Help for tiny mouths

Q: What’s the best way to treat my child’s canker sores?

A: Doctors don’t know what causes canker sores—small, shallow mouth ulcers that form on the tongue or in the soft tissue of the cheeks or gums. Canker sores seem to run in families and affect girls more than boys. Each sore lasts up to a week before healing.

Your doctor or dentist can prescribe a medical mouthwash, a corticosteroid salve or lidocaine, a painkiller, for severe cases. Home remedies include over-the-counter ointments with phenol; pain relievers, like ibuprofen and acetaminophen; or a diluted rinse of hydrogen peroxide or Benadryl. Beyond that, little can be done in the way of dietary or behavioral changes to prevent the sores from forming.