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Mouth Injury: Brief Version

What is a mouth injury?

Cuts of the tongue and insides of the cheeks are usually caused by accidentally biting oneself during eating. Cuts and bruises of the lips are usually caused by falls. A tear of the piece of tissue connecting the upper lip to the gum is very common and harmless.

Cuts in the mouth usually don't require stitches except for loose flaps of tissue or gaping wounds of the tongue. Small cuts and scrapes inside the mouth heal in 3 or 4 days. Infections of mouth injuries are rare.

How can I take care of my child?

  • Stop any bleeding.

    Press the bleeding site against the teeth or jaw for 10 minutes. For bleeding from the tongue, try to squeeze the bleeding site with sterile gauze. If you don't have gauze, use a clean cloth. Once bleeding from inside the lip stops, don't pull the lip out again to look at it.

  • Pain relief.

    Put a piece of ice on the area that was injured as often as necessary. Give acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) for pain.

  • Diet.

    For a day or so, offer your child soft food. Avoid any salty or citrus foods that might sting. Keep food out of the wound by rinsing the area with warm water after meals.

Call your child's doctor right away:

  • There is a cut that is deep or gaping.
  • The injury is to the back of the throat, tonsil, or soft palate.

Call your child's doctor during office hours if:

  • The area looks infected, especially if the pain or swelling increases after 48 hours. (Note: Any healing wound in the mouth is normally white for several days.)
  • A fever occurs.
  • You have other concerns or questions.
Written by Barton D. Schmitt, MD, author of “My Child Is Sick,” American Academy of Pediatrics Books.
Pediatric Advisor 2013.2 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2009-06-22
Last reviewed: 2012-05-14
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2013 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
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