What should you do about cuts in your mouth? Why do they happen? And how can you help them heal faster? Our Edmonton dentists explain how to treat cuts in mouth, what to do to prevent infection and when you should come to see us.
Cuts in Mouth
They can happen in a split second and be severely annoying - even lead to gum or mouth pain. When it comes to wounds or cuts inside your mouth, diligent attention and care is required, especially because they can interfere with speaking and eating, or make your cheeks swell. If bacteria or dirt and debris get into the affected area, you may even develop an infection or other health complications. In this post, we'll discuss what to do about wounds and cuts in mouth, how to treat them and prevent infection, and more.
Why do you get cuts inside your mouth?
Wounds and cuts in the mouth, on the tongue or on your inner lip can happen in almost any circumstance - from the inside of your cheek or lip getting in the way while chewing to a fall while playing sports or an accidental bite while chewing a fingernail. Some wounds in the mouth can be caused by cold sores or canker sores.
Since the thinnest, softest skin on your body protects these soft tissues, even a small scrape, bump, cut or puncture can break or damage the skin. Cuts in the mouth also tend to bleed more than cuts on other areas of the body, since the skin is soft and vulnerable, and close to blood vessels.
While most inner lip wounds can be characterized as minor, some injuries may be more serious or become infected. Facial trauma sustained during a car accident or from a hard hit to the head or mouth while playing sports can qualify as dental emergencies. In these cases, contact us so we can examine the cut or wound and provide appropriate treatment or guidance.
Why do mouth wounds turn white?
While redness and swelling may occur immediately following a cut on the gums, you may notice that as the wound heals the cut inside your mouth has turned white. This is not uncommon; in fact it's a standard response to injury or trauma and will likely clear up within a few days.
What makes cuts in mouth heal faster?
Small, minor cuts inside the mouth might heal with good oral hygiene to clean the area, and time (perhaps a couple of weeks). Here are some at-home care tips to keep in mind to help heal a cut in your mouth:
- Wash your hands before bringing them near the injury. Be very careful with the area to avoid further damage or trauma.
- If the wound is on your inner lip, rinse with saltwater (1 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of warm water) multiple times a day, such as after meals to clean the cut of any bacteria, dirt and debris. Saltwater rinses have been shown to help the body heal (just don't swallow the saltwater).
- Avoid touching the cut with your fingers or tongue. While you may instinctively be drawn to check on it without thinking, touching a cut or wound in your mouth can introduce dirt or bacteria, slow down healing and cause complications. Remember to wash your hands regularly just in case they touch the area.
- If a wound to the inner lip has caused bleeding, bruising or swelling, use an ice pack to press gently on the wound. Crushed ice wrapped with a clean cloth is also an option.
- Eat soft, easy-to-swallow foods. Avoid foods that might sting or cause irritation, including citrus fruits, tomatoes or spicy foods. You might try a piece of ice or flavoured ice pop to cool the inside of your mouth and reduce swelling and pain. avoid giving ice cubes to children due to the choking hazard.
- Take over-the-counter pain medicine safely (follow instructions on the label). If you receive a prescription from a dentist or doctor, take as directed.
- Avoid applying creams to the inside of the mouth.
How long does it take to heal a cut inside your mouth?
The answer to this question will depend on numerous factors, such as the location of the cut or wound, its severity, whether infection or scarring have occurred and others. Infection and scarring are risk factors, as viruses and bacteria can enter blood and body tissues through open or exposed skin, leading to further irritation or dangerous complications.The good news: cuts inside the mouth heal faster than anywhere else on the body - perhaps in a matter of days, with not stitches.
This may be because saliva promotes healing and contains proteins to help repair tissues. The mouth and face also have rich blood supply, which can help speed recovery from injury.
Our dentists at Emergency Dental Clinics can help treat cuts in your mouth
Check on your cut or wound daily. If it isn't healing properly or if pain, swelling or bruising worsen, contact us to schedule an exam. We can treat wounds or cuts in mouth. This would also qualify as a dental emergency if:
- The cut is deep
- The bleeding doesn't stop after 10 minutes
- The cut is larger than half an inch
- The edges are jagged (not straight)
- There is debris that can't be cleared away
- You have an infected cut in your mouth or discolouration is present - if there is redness, draining fluid or it is warm to the touch. Of course, if the cut or wound in your mouth is very deep, there is major bleeding or the circumstances are life-threatening, you should call 911.