Bite Your Lip or Tongue? It May Need Care Right Away

You've bitten your lip or tongue pretty badly - now what? Today, our Edmonton dentists discuss when this common event becomes a dental emergency and what you can do to reduce swelling and alleviate pain. Plus, tips for healing and when to see a specialist. 

What to Do About Your Bitten Lip or Tongue

Whether this mishap happens while you're biting into the pizza you've been craving all day or while you're sliding into home plate playing baseball, biting your lip or tongue is uncomfortable - and can be upsetting and painful. A child may accidentally bite their lip or cheek after receiving anesthesia for dental work. These injuries can also occur during falls, fights, seizures, nail biting, sleep spasms or vigorous or unconscious chewing. 

Fortunately. while tongue or lip injuries may need emergency dental care, some can be treated at home. In this post, we'll discuss at-home remedies, when to seek dental care, how to help a bitten lip or tongue heal faster, when to see a specialist and more.

Biting your tongue might soon result in a puncture wound or cut. While these are often able to heal by themselves without much medical attention. to clean a wound on your tongue, rinse your mouth with warm salt water after meals to help alleviate pain. To create the mix, dissolve one teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water before swishing the liquid in your mouth and spitting it out. 

Because the tongue normally receives a rich blood supply, the wound may start to swell or bleed. Press a clean cloth or gauze firmly to the affected area for five or more minutes to control the bleeding. Alternatively, wrap crushed ice in the cloth before pressing it to the wound, which may help control pain and swelling. 

For either a bitten lip or tongue, you can also press an ice pack to the area to keep the swelling down.

Regardless of whether the wound on your lip or tongue has been treated, watch out for symptoms of infection. If you develop a fever or notice redness, debris, excessive swelling, redness, tenderness or pus in the wound after the injury, you may have an infection. You'll need to see a doctor to have it treated and perhaps take antibiotics for a period of time. 

I Bit My Tongue Really Bad: When to Seek Dental Care

While biting your lip or tongue is not typically cause for concern, take extra caution if you are treating a tongue wound due to sports injury or other accident. If there's any additional injury to the teeth such as a fracture that injured your tongue or lip in the process, it's time to seek dental treatment right away. Occasionally, the cut may be so wide or deep that it needs stitches (dissolving sutures) to hold it together while it heals. 

Patients sometimes come to us and say, 'I bit my lip and now I have a white bump. What do I do?'. These are called mucoceles, or mucus retention cysts. They are harmless swellings filled with fluid that form on the lower lip, gums or the mouth's lining, usually after an injury such as inadvertently biting the lip or an obstruction of the salivary gland, which is responsible for draining saliva into the mouth. Most mucoceles disappear on their own without treatment. 

How much should a mouth bleed from a bitten lip or tongue?

If bleeding continues after 15 minutes of applying pressure, consider seeking medical help. When it comes to a bitten tongue or lip, healing times vary and depend on how severe the cut or wound is. A minor injury may heal on its own within 5 to 7 days.

However, if the injury is severe with bleeding and significant pain that doesn't let up, you notice shallow breathing or have trouble breathing, have a weak or fast pulse, your skin turns pale or clammy, or an infection develops, see a doctor.

How can I make my bitten lip or tongue heal faster?

Most wounds in the mouth are minor and typically heal within about 7 days without consequence. However, if you require stitches or some other type of emergency dental treatment, it may take a little longer. As the wound and the stitches heal, you may feel a little pulling or tenderness, but this is usually not painful. To ensure your bitten lip or tongue heals properly, you'll want to prevent infection. Make sure to keep the wound clean by rinsing the mouth after every meal using a solution made from 1 cup of water and 1 teaspoon of salt. 

If a person needs stitches or a doctor or dental specialist has re-attached a piece of the tongue, recovery will take longer. 

While recovering from a bit tongue, eat soft foods such as smooth peanut butter, soups, yogurt, ice cream, eggs, cottage cheese, tuna, well-cooked or canned fruits and vegetables. 

We recommend avoiding citrusy, salty or spicy foods, drinking alcohol or smoking tobacco, which can irritate damaged tissue, cause pain and slow healing. Use over-the-counter medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen. 

When should I see a specialist for a bitten tongue?

While a bitten tongue typically heals on its own within a few days, complications can arise with more severe injuries. They may require prompt medical attention or treatment by a specialist. Complications may include:

  • Disfigured tongue
  • Infection
  • Blocked airway
  • Impaired tongue function

Seek Treatment for a Severely Bitten Lip or Tongue at Emergency Dental Clinics

A badly bitten lip or tongue can happen when we least expect it. While this injury is painful, it's 

Dental emergencies happen when we least expect them, but our dentists in Edmonton are on call to help when you're in need of emergency dental care to correct the issue and provide treatment to prevent further complications for your dental health and general health. We offer same-day appointments and services for a wide variety of dental emergencies. Whatever you need, we're here for you. 

Have you experienced a bitten lip or tongue injury and suspect you may need dental care? Contact our Edmonton dentists right away. We can make room in our schedule to see you in as soon as possible.

Have a dental emergency in Edmonton? We're here on weekends and after hours to help.

Dental emergencies always happen when you least expect them. Our friendly and experienced dental team is on call to assist you when you need us most.

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