How To Know When Your 3 Month Old Is Teething Quick Tips to Help Parents Identify the Lumps, Bumps, and Owies in Their Child’s Mouth

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Quick Tips to Help Parents Identify the Lumps, Bumps, and Owies in Their Child’s Mouth

Geez, oral health care can be tough! How do you know what is normal and what is not in a child’s mouth? Here are a few quick tips for identifying bumps, bumps, and owies. When in doubt, you can always call your friendly pediatric dentist.

Normal stuff: Normal oral anatomy is usually midline or symmetrical. That little bump behind the upper front teeth is called the incisal papilla, if burned on pizza or bitten with a chip it can be inflamed but will heal quickly. Those bright red spots under the tongue are surface blood vessels called varicose veins, they are good Mom!

Cold Sores: Common cold sores are usually outside the mouth on the lips. They are a recurrence of a viral infection called Herpes Simplex. About 90% of children are exposed to the herpes cold sore virus by age four (look what I brought home from preschool mom!), and about 50% become chronic carriers. This means, since the herpes virus infects nerve cells that never die, periodically the virus will reappear to form a wound. Before a wound is crusted, the virus spreads and is very infectious. Fortunately, a whole family of antiviral medicines can treat the wound to limit its size, duration and discomfort.

Canker Soes: For otherwise healthy children, canker sores are found inside the mouth only on mobile tissues. Also called aphthous ulcers or RAS (recurrent aphthous syndrome), they have a white, disky center with a bright red border and are very painful when touched. Often, parents confuse this lesion for an abscess located near the teeth on the gums. In reality, aphthous ulcers are caused by an overreaction of the immune system. That’s right, the immune system gets angry at some microtrauma, cleans house and leaves a painful ulcer. Since it is not an infection, the best treatment is to recognize that it will go away in about a week and medication with Tylenol or a topical numbing agent like Orajel. Some adults remember burning with silver nitrate. It is very painful, it will leave a scar, and it will cause mutiny!

Mucocele: Unknown to most of us, the lips are full of minor salivary glands, consisting of a simple gland that connects to the oral cavity by a tube. Every so often, one of these tubes is cut, the saliva accumulates in the gland and a soft bump is formed in the lip. If the gland ruptures, fills again and ruptures again, a scar can form. This produces a hard blow. Children absolutely cannot leave these bumps alone and usually chew on them; some mucoceles can reach the size of marbles! The best treatment is just to make a small incision in the inner lip and shake out the mucocele. In a pediatric dentist’s office, this involves a spot of anesthesia, a stitch and about five minutes. At your oral surgeon or ENT office start talking about general anesthesia! Remember, children can smell when a doctor is scarred by them!

Popcornoma: This is my favorite oral pathology. A child has swollen gums and slight discoloration. A dental explorer is carefully inserted between the tooth and the gum to capture and deliver a popcorn shell. The pain disappears instantly! Somehow, fathers are usually blamed, don’t ask me why.

There are many more unusual and always worrying lumps and bumps. If you’re scratching your head and need advice, never hesitate to call. Greg Evans, DDS at Big Grins Pediatric Dentistry in Fort Collins is always available for a chat.

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