Mouth injuries are common, especially in children, and may involve the teeth, jaw, lips, tongue, inner cheeks, gums, roof of the mouth (hard or soft palates), neck, or tonsils. Sometimes mouth injuries look worse than they are. Even a small cut or puncture inside the mouth may bleed a lot because there are many blood vessels in the head and neck area. Home treatment of minor mouth injuries can help stop bleeding, reduce pain, help healing, and prevent infection.
Teeth may be injured during a fall or a sport activity. A tooth may be knocked out (avulsed). You may be able to replace a permanent tooth in its socket (reimplant) if it has been knocked out or torn away from the socket. Immediate first aid and dental care are needed when a permanent tooth has been knocked out.
Other dental injuries may be caused by grinding your teeth, especially at night. Your teeth may hurt, chip, or become loose. Biting surfaces may become flat and worn down. A broken or loose dental appliance or an orthodontic wire or bracket may poke or rub the inside of your mouth and make your mouth sore.
An injury to your mouth or lips may cause a large, loose flap of tissue or a gaping wound that may need stitches. A smaller wound on the lip may be stitched for cosmetic reasons. If an object, such as a piece of broken tooth or an orthodontic wire, gets stuck in a wound, you may need to have it removed by a doctor. You can also have problems from a piercing in the mouth.
The piece of skin between your lips and gums or under your tongue (frenulum) may tear or rip. Usually this type of injury will heal without stitches. It is generally not a concern unless the tear was caused by physical or sexual abuse.
An injury to the roof of your mouth, the back of your throat, or a tonsil can injure deeper tissues in your head or neck. These injuries can happen when a child falls with a pointed object, such as a pencil or Popsicle stick, in his or her mouth.
Use the Check Your Symptoms section to decide if and when you should see a doctor.
If you need to see a doctor for your injury, call to arrange for your care and follow these steps for:
To reduce pain and promote healing
|Try a non-prescription medicine to help treat your pain:|
Talk to your child’s doctor before switching back and forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you switch between two medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much medicine.
|Be sure to follow these safety tips when you use a non-prescription medicine:|
To protect a slightly loose tooth: Teeth that are slightly loose but still in their normal position should tighten up in 1 to 2 weeks.
To remove objects or food stuck between teeth
To remove a very loose baby tooth in a child
Use the Check Your Symptoms section to evaluate your symptoms if any of the following occur during home treatment:
Many mouth and dental injuries can be prevented by taking the following steps.
Additional steps to prevent mouth and dental injuries in children include the following:
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.
You can help your doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being ready to answer the following questions:
|Primary Medical Reviewer||William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||David Messenger, MD|
|Last Revised||November 2, 2010|
Last Revised: April 2, 2012
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & David Messenger, MD
This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.