What is mouth problems and injuries?

Mouth Problems and Injuries
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Mouth injury: Overview

Mouth injuries are common. They may involve the teeth, jaw, lips, tongue, inner cheeks, or gums. A mouth injury can also affect the roof of the mouth, your neck, or your tonsils.

You may injure your teeth during a fall or while playing sports. An injury can crack, chip, or break a tooth or make a tooth change color. A tooth also may be knocked out, loosened, moved, or jammed into the gum.

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 you fall with a pointed object, such as a pencil, in your mouth.

Sometimes you may bite the inside of your cheek several times while chewing, causing a sore. Or you may bite your tongue while playing sports or because of a seizure, a car or bicycle crash, an assault, or another injury. Braces or mouth jewelry can also poke or cause sores on mouth tissues. Sometimes the piece of skin between your lips and gums or under your tongue may tear or rip.

A cut or tear to the tongue can bleed a lot. Small injuries may often heal on their own. If the injury is long or deep, it may need stitches that dissolve over time.

What first aid steps can you take after a mouth or dental injury?

If you think that you might need to see a doctor, call to arrange for your care. Ask what steps to take in the meantime.

What steps to take will depend on the type of injury. Here are examples of some injuries and what you can do until you see your doctor or help arrives.

  • A tooth that has been completely knocked out. A permanent tooth can sometimes be put back into its socket (reimplanted). So be sure to save the tooth, and place it in milk to keep it from drying out. Take it with you to the dentist right away. The best results occur if a dentist puts the tooth back in the socket within 30 minutes. Chances of successful reimplantation are unlikely after 2 hours.
  • Bleeding in the mouth. Return any skin flap to its normal position. If needed, hold the flap in place with a clean cloth or gauze.
  • A tongue or piece of tongue that has been cut off. Wrap the piece of tongue in a clean cloth or sterile gauze and put it in a bag of ice to keep it cool. Don't put the tongue directly on the ice. Don't immerse the tongue in ice water. Take the bag with you, and go to the emergency room right away.
  • A broken tooth or dental appliance. Find any pieces of tooth or the broken dental appliance and take them with you when you go to see your dentist. Your dentist will want to check for missing pieces of tooth or dental appliance that may have been left in a wound, swallowed, or breathed into the lungs (aspirated).

Mouth injury: When to call

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You have trouble breathing.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have new or worse bleeding.
  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the injured area.
    • Pus draining from the injured area.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.

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