Common Concerns

Canker sores are round sores in the mouth that are white or yellow in color with a red edge or border. They cause a tingling or burning sensation prior to their appearance. They are usually found on the tongue or cheek (on moveable tissue) and not right next to the teeth. Canker sores are caused by stress or tissue injury. For 2 weeks avoid citrus, acidic, or salty foods, such as: lemons, oranges, pineapple, strawberries, tomato based foods, potato chips, candy, and pop. Keep the adjacent teeth clean and try eating bland foods. Ask Dr. Dobbins if a topical ointment might be appropriate.

Cold sores are sores found on the exterior of your mouth on the lips or along the gum line of the teeth. They often start out as small blisters and then turn into patches and scab over. They are caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus I. They are contagious when sharing cups, utensils, or from kissing. Most improve after 2 weeks. Treatment is palliative (comfort) care, which includes hydration and Ibuprofen/Tylenol. Over the counter ointments are not recommended for children under 12 years of age.


If your child had dental treatment and bit his/her lip, cheek, or tongue, it may look like a yellow strawberry for 3-5 days. It is not an infection or an allergic reaction. This is tissue regenerating. It takes 10-14 days for healthy tissue to grow. It is important to keep the area clean and avoid salty and acidic foods and beverages. Eat bland foods and dairy products. If necessary, take Ibuprofen or Tylenol. Chew cautiously when eating.

Parents are often concerned about the nocturnal grinding of teeth (bruxism). The first indication is the noise created by the child grinding on his/her teeth during sleep. Parents may also notice wear on the teeth or the teeth getting shorter. Different stresses, teeth eruption, and growth can cause the child to grind his/her teeth. The good news is most children outgrow bruxism. The grinding decreases between ages 6-9, and children tend to stop grinding by age 12, after all the permanent teeth erupt. Mouth guards in children are not typically recommended because they often gag, choke, and chew on the appliance. If you suspect bruxism, discuss this with Dr. Dobbins.


Hypoplastic teeth have defects in the enamel that cause the tooth to appear yellow, brown, or frosty. The tooth structure is more porous and susceptible to decay and fracturing. Avoid chewing hard sticky candy and ice. Dr. Dobbins will discuss how to care for these teeth and may recommend different treatment options depending on the severity of the defect.