Skip to Main Content

Lesions of the mouth and throat are common in children and can range from benign conditions that require no intervention to significant systemic illness requiring extensive treatment and support (Table 117-1). Making the distinction between these conditions can be difficult. Mouth pain secondary to viral infections of the oropharynx are among the most common presenting complaints of pediatric patients; however, most require no treatment beyond supportive care and pain control. Bacterial infections of the mouth and throat, such as pharyngitis and uvulitis, cause local and systemic illness and rarely can lead to life-threatening complications. The management of dental injuries, whether from neglect or trauma, differs for primary and permanent teeth.

Table 117-1 Common Causes of Oral Lesions in Children

Epstein pearls are remnants of embryonic development that present as white, slightly raised nodules seen most commonly midline at the junction of the soft and hard palates of neonates. They are often seen incidentally during feeding and do not cause the child any pain or discomfort. Most resolve spontaneously.

Geographic tongue (Figure 117-1) can be a source of great parental concern. It is a benign, asymptomatic condition and is often incidentally noticed by parents during another illness. Patients will present with an area of erythema and atrophy of the papillae of the tongue surrounded by a serpiginous, elevated white or yellow border usually located in the anterior two thirds. The lesions will improve and disappear gradually over time but tend to recur in other areas of the tongue. There is no known cause, although it has been associated with childhood allergies and atopy. No treatment other than reassurance is necessary.

Figure 117-1.

Geographic tongue. (Photo from Ageekgal. Available at

Mucoceles (Figure 117-2) and ranulas are lesions of the oral mucosa that present as small, bluish, discrete, mucosal swellings on the lower lip or sublingual areas.1 Intervention is needed only with disruption of feeding or development of speech. Adjacent salivary glands are usually removed in addition to the lesion to prevent recurrence.

Figure 117-2.

Mucocele. (Reproduced with permission from Wolff KL, Johnson R, Suurmond R: Fitzpatrick’s Color Atlas & Synopsis of Clinical Dermatology, 6th ed. © 2009, McGraw-Hill, New York, Figure 34-14.)

Eruption cysts are smooth, painless bluish-black areas of swelling found over an erupting tooth that usually resolve with the eruption of the underlying tooth. Although these findings are ...

Pop-up div Successfully Displayed

This div only appears when the trigger link is hovered over. Otherwise it is hidden from view.