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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
Epithelial Cysts
Congenital Epulis
Natal or Neonatal Teeth
Eruption Cysts
Fibroma & Papilloma
Ulcers (current page)
Key Points
Additional Resources

3.6 Soft Tissue Conditions and Abnormalities, continued

Traumatic Ulcers

photo of traumatic ulcer
  Fig 28. Traumatic Ulcer

The most common type of oral ulcers found in infants and young children, traumatic ulcers (Figure 28), are caused by mechanical, chemical, or thermal injuries to the oral tissues. Traumatic ulcers can be located on the peripheral borders of the tongue, buccal mucosa, lips, or palate and can vary in appearance depending on the source and intensity of the trauma.[6]

Burns on the palate may occur after eating foods or drinking liquids that are too hot. Infants and young children may develop traumatic ulcers on the palate from sucking a pacifier or their fingers or thumb. Nervous fingernail scratching of the gingiva may result in a factitial injury. In most cases, following removal of the source of the trauma, ulcers heal within two weeks.


Herpetic Ulcers

photo of herpetic ulcer
  Fig 29. Herpetic Ulcer

Herpetic ulcers (Figure 29) are usually preceded by tingling. When the ulcers form, they are usually a small cluster of vesicles, with no halo. They are generally located on the hard palate, the border of the lips, or the attached gingival tissue. Healing typically occurs within 7 to 14 days.[6]


Other Ulcers

photo of apthous ulcer
  Fig 30. Apthous Ulcer

Other ulcers may be due to trauma, abuse, the herpes simplex virus, systemic deficiencies, and/or immune defects. They are most often located on nonkeratinized movable tissue and have a crater surrounded by a red halo, as in an apthous ulcer (Figure 30), except for those caused by trauma or abuse. Ulcers can be painful. Healing usually occurs within 7 to 10 days.

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See our family friendly materials with important oral health information in English and Spanish for pregnant women and parents of infants and young children.


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logo: U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau