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Mouth Injury

The soft tissues in the mouth are delicate, sensitive and easily hurt. They also contain a lot of nerves. When they are hurt, it can be very painful. Your tongue, cheeks, gums and lips can be hurt in several ways:

  • If you accidentally bite down on them
  • If you fall
  • If you are in an accident
  • If you burn your mouth on hot food
  • If you chew on hard objects

What You Can Do

Mouth injuries usually bleed quite a lot because the tissues in the mouth contain many very small blood vessels. Because there is a lot of blood involved, the injury can often seem worse than it is. However, the bleeding usually stops within a few minutes.

Here are some things you can do:

  • Put direct pressure on the wound using a clean piece of gauze or cloth. Keep the gauze or cloth in place for 10 to 15 minutes. This should stop the bleeding. If it doesn't stop the bleeding, try using a tea bag instead of gauze. The tannic acid in the tea helps stop bleeding.
  • Rinse your mouth with a mild saltwater solution (1/2 teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of water).
  • Put ice on the area for 5 to 10 minutes. This will reduce swelling, slow bleeding and relieve pain.
  • If the bleeding doesn't stop after you apply pressure for 10 to 15 minutes, the injury may be serious. You should go to an emergency room to seek treatment. Put pressure on the area until you get to the emergency room.

What Your Dentist Will Do

If you go to an emergency room, you usually will see a doctor or oral surgeon. He or she will wash the area, remove any dirt or debris, and see if your teeth are loose or damaged. Stitches might be needed to close the wound.

Last updated September 25, 2013