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Maternal and Child Health Bureau logoA Health Professionals Guide to Pediatric Oral Health Management
HomeModuleModule 1: An Introduction to Infants' and Young Children's Oral HealthModule 2: Managing Infants' and Young Children's Oral HealthModule 3: Oral Conditions and AbnormalitiesModule 4: Prevention of Oral DiseaseModule 5: Non-Nutritive Sucking HabitsModule 6: Oral InjuryModule 7: Infants and Young Children with Special Health Care NeedsContentsGlossaryEvaluationHelp
Module 3: Oral Conditions and Abnormalities
Module Contents
3.1 Recognizing Healthy Teeth, Soft Tissues, and Facial Bones
3.2 Healthy Teeth
3.3 Healthy Soft Tissues
Lips, Tongue, and
Oral Mucosa
Frena & Gingiva
Major Salivary Glands
3.4 Healthy Facial Bones
3.5 Tooth Conditions and Abnormalities
Dental Caries
Untreated Tooth Decay
Hypodontia & Anodontia
Amelogenesis Imperfecta
Dentinogenesis Imperfecta
Extrinsic and Intrinsic Enamel Coloration
3.6 Soft Tissue Conditions and Abnormalities
Infections (current page)
Epithelial Cysts
Congenital Epulis
Natal or Neonatal Teeth
Eruption Cysts
Fibroma & Papilloma
Key Points
Additional Resources

3.6 Soft Tissue Conditions and Abnormalities

Viral, Bacterial, or Fungal Infections

exclamation point graphicViral, bacterial, or fungal infections can affect the soft tissues in the mouths of infants and young children.


Viral, bacterial, or fungal infections can affect the soft tissues in the mouths of infants and young children. Examples of such infections include

  • Viral infections such as primary acute herpetic gingivostomatitis (herpes simplex virus type 1); recurrent herpes labialis; varicella-zoster virus (chicken pox); Type A coxsackieviruses (hand, foot, and mouth disease); and primary HIV infection.

  • Bacterial or fungal infections such as acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis (“trench mouth,” Vincent’s infection) and candidiasis (thrush).

Read more: Diseases and Conditions Causing Lesions of the Oral Mucosa (.pdf) , from Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General, pp 98-100. Full text of this report is available at

photo of primary herpetic gingivostomatitis
  Fig 18. Primary Herpetic Gingivostomatitis

Primary Herpetic Gingivostomatitis
Primary herpetic gingivostomatitis is an infection of the oral and perioral tissues. It is associated with elevated temperature, dehydration, discomfort, malaise, abnormal enlargement of the lymph nodes, and intense red gingival vesicles that rupture. The vesicles are located throughout the mouth. The infection results in ulcers, drooling, and halitosis (bad breath). Primary herpetic gingivostomatitis is caused by the herpes simplex virus. Treatment involves supportive therapy, hydration, and antipyretics. The infection usually resolves in 7 to 10 days.

photo of candidiasis
  Fig 19.
Candidiasis (thrush)

Candidiasis, a fungal infection that may be present in infancy, appears as a soft white plaque coating the mucosa and palate. When the coating is removed with a gauze pad or tongue blade, the undersurface is red and raw. Candidiasis should be treated with an antifungal medication.

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