Bit Tongue, Lip, or Cheek

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When you understand HOW and WHY things happen, your actions for treatment and prevention are vastly improved.

If you just want to know WHAT ACTIONS TO TAKE, scroll down.

If you’re in a real hurry, click the Print This Page button and take this information with you.

Sometimes this is minor, but other times stitches or surgery is required. Like any trauma to soft tissues, what you do will depend upon the severity and type of injury.

Emergencies - Potential causes

  • Accidents while eating
  • Any sudden impact to the lower jaw causing the teeth to bite through flesh
  • Seizures with hard biting
  • Piercing techniques gone wrong
  • Habits of chewing soft tissues (during either waking or sleeping hours)

Emergencies - Symptoms

  • Bleeding
  • Puncture wound
  • Split wound

Emergencies - Relieve pain

  • Over the counter anti-inflammatory pain medicines, but NOT ASPIRIN. Typically acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be used. These are to be swallowed only and not placed directly on the injury.
  • Ice packs on the face if injury is external. Frozen vegetables like peas or corn make a good pliable ice pack. Wrap in a small thin towel (even a paper towel) before applying directly to skin in order to prevent freezer burn to the skin.
  • WARNING: This suggestion may sting temporarily, but may relieve pain over time. Salt water rinse (half teaspoon salt dissolved in one cup warm water). You may want to use no more than body-temperature water to avoid adding heat to the abscess which can increase pain. If there is pus in the mouth, this can help clean the mouth and get rid of the horrible taste too.

Emergencies - What to do

  • Assess the wound for staying closed on its own. Healing occurs best when the inner tissues of a wound can be held in contact with each other. That’s the reason for stitches or butterfly bandages to be done if inner tissues of the wound won’t stay touching each other without intervention.
  • Assess for damage to the teeth or jaws. See related items on the Emergencies List Page as appropriate.
  • If wound is a simple puncture or superficial, generally no treatment is needed except to keep the wound clean and follow suggestions to relieve pain above.
  • If there is ANY question that the wound might not stay together on its own, contact your child’s dentist immediately to see if stitches are needed.
  • If their dentist can’t see them right away, get your child to an Urgent Care Center or Emergency Room.

Back to the List of Emergencies Page

NOTE: Any recommendations given can only be construed as general information. It is impossible for me to know your specific circumstances. I am not your family’s personal dentist. This material should NOT be used to diagnose the presence or absence of any particular ailment. This information is not intended to be a substitute for the services of a locally qualified dental health care professional. Any application of the material found on this website is at the reader’s discretion and is her or his sole responsibility. If there is any question, contact your dentist or other qualified dental health care professional.
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