Mouth Injury

Mouth injuries can be painful. They often look worse than they are. Most mouth injuries heal without treatment.

Immediately call 911 for serious mouth injuries or go straight to the emergency department of your local hospital. For minor mouth injuries, or if you are uncertain about what you should do, you can call your dentist’s office and speak to the on-call dentist to get advice.

What are mouth injuries?

Mouth injuries can happen to anyone, but are very common in children.

Damage done to the cavity of the mouth or surrounding area is considered a mouth injury. This includes:

  • Lips

  • Frenulum (flap of skin under the lips)

  • Inner cheek

  • Tongue

  • Floor and roof of mouth

  • Tonsils and throat

  • Teeth

  • Jaw

What to do after a mouth injury

Do not pull the lip out to view the injury or to see if bleeding has stopped. Pulling the lip will reopen the injury.

Falls can cause injury to the back of the mouth, which can be serious. Seek immediate medical attention if the injury is in the back of the mouth or causes severe bleeding.

Contact your provider or go to your local urgent care center or hospital emergency department if the injury will not stop bleeding, is infected, or of serious nature. Some injuries may need stitches.

Mouth injuries include cuts, bruises, sores and fractures. These injuries are sustained usually while eating. Mouth injuries also be caused by falls or contact sports.

Examples of mouth injuries include:

  • Biting lips, checks and tongue

  • Burns

  • Falls

  • Falling with object in mouth

  • Cracked, broken, or lost tooth

  • Infection from piercings

  • Trauma from contact

  • Bleeding
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Fever
  • Toothache
  • Trouble sleeping

Most mouth injuries heal with proper care. Minor injuries usually heal in three or four days.

  • Apply pressure to any bleeding sites for 10 minutes. Contact your doctor immediately or go to your local urgent care if the bleeding does not stop. Apply an ice cube or ice pop to the injury for 20 minutes to reduce swelling.

  • Take pain medication like ibuprofen or acetaminophen to reduce pain and swelling.

  • Eat soft foods so they do not disturb the injury. Eating salty, acidic, or citrusy food will irritate the injury. Be sure to swish warm water after eating to clean the injury.

Some mouth injuries, like accidental bites, cannot be prevented. Others can be prevented easily with proper care and protection.

  • Chew food slowly and carefully.

  • Stay still while brushing teeth.

  • Have regular dental checkups.

  • Do not put anything in your mouth that should not be there.

  • Remove objects that can be tripped over.

  • Be sure to always wear protective gear like helmets and mouth guards when participating in contact sports.

Children can get mouth injuries from falling. Be sure to always keep an eye on very young children, especially while they are sitting on the couch, or on a changing station. Safety straps can help prevent injuries.