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),
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
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.
An injury could
chip, or break a tooth, or make a tooth
change color. A tooth also may be
loose or moved in position (dental luxation) or
jammed into the gum (intruded).
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
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
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.
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First aid steps
If you need to see a doctor for your injury, call to arrange for your care and ask what steps to take in the meantime.
A tooth that has been completely knocked out. A permanent tooth can sometimes be put back into its socket
(reimplanted). 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 necessary, hold the flap in place with a clean
cloth or gauze.
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 inhaled into the lungs
To reduce pain and promote healing
cold compress to the injured area, or suck on a piece of ice or a flavored ice pop, such as a Popsicle, as
often as desired.
Rinse your wound with warm salt water immediately
after meals. Saltwater rinses may promote healing. To make a saltwater solution
for rinsing the mouth, mix
1 tsp (5 g) of salt to
1 cup (250 mL) of warm
Eat soft foods that are easy to swallow. Soft foods include:
Milk and dairy products, such as milk shakes,
yogurt, custards, ice cream, sherbets, and cottage cheese.
meat substitutes, such as tender meats or chicken, tuna, eggs, and smooth peanut
Fruits and vegetables, such as well-cooked or canned fruits
and vegetables; well-ripened, easy-to-chew fruits; and baked, mashed, or
well-cooked sweet potatoes.
Avoid foods that might sting, such as salty or
spicy foods, citrus fruits or juices, and tomatoes.
Do not smoke or
use other tobacco products. For more information, see the topic
Do not drink
If a jagged tooth or orthodontic wire or bracket is poking
you, roll a piece of melted candle wax or orthodontic wax and press it onto the
part that is poking you. Use a pencil eraser to press a broken wire toward your
teeth. These are only temporary measures to use until you can see your dentist
or orthodontist to fix the problem.
Try a topical medicine, such
as Orabase or Ulcerease, to reduce mouth pain.
Medicine you can buy without a prescription
Try a nonprescription
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 nonprescription medicine:
Carefully read and follow all directions
on the medicine bottle and box.
Many mouth and dental injuries can be
prevented by taking the following steps.
Have regular dental checkups. If your gums and
teeth are healthy, you are more likely to recover from an injury quickly and
completely. For more information, see the topic Basic Dental
Use a seat belt to prevent or reduce injuries to the mouth
during a motor vehicle accident. Always place your child in a
child car seat to prevent injuries.
mouth guard while participating in sports. A mouth
protector can be made by a dentist or purchased at a store that sells athletic
Wear a helmet and face guard in sports during which a
face, mouth, or head injury could occur.
If you wear an
orthodontic appliance, such as a retainer or headgear, follow your
orthodontist's instructions about proper wear and care of it. Learn as much
about your orthodontic appliance as you can.
Remove headgear and wear a protective mouth
guard when playing sports.
Remove headgear before engaging in rough
Do not eat foods that are hard, chewy, crunchy, or
Do not pick at or pull on your braces.
orthodontic wax to protect the inside of your mouth from poking
Store the appliance in the case provided by your
grind your teeth, ask your dentist whether he or she
recommends a mouth guard.
If you have
seizures or other medical problems that may increase
your risk of falls, ask your doctor if and when he or she
recommends that you use a helmet and face guard to protect your head and mouth.
More steps to prevent mouth and dental injuries in
young children include the following:
Be aware of your child's chance of falling, and take steps to prevent falls.
When your toddler is using a bottle or sippy cup, have him or her stay seated. Don't allow your child to walk or run with any objects in his or her mouth.
Never leave a baby unattended in high places, such as on a tabletop, in a crib with the sides down, or even on a bed or sofa.
Do not leave a baby unattended in any infant seat or "sitting" toy, such as a swing, walker, saucer, or jumper. Use all the safety straps provided.
Be gentle when placing a bottle or
spoon in a baby's or child's mouth. An object that is jammed into the mouth can
tear the skin between the lips and gums or under the tongue
If your child has protruding teeth, have them examined
by a dentist. Protruding teeth are more likely to be injured.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.