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Mouth Wounds: When Are Stitches Needed?

Mouth Wounds: When Are Stitches Needed?

Topic Overview

It is important to determine whether your wound needs to be closed by a doctor. Your risk of infection increases the longer the wound remains open. Most wounds that require closure should be stitched or closed with skin adhesives (also called liquid stitches) within 6 to 8 hours after the injury. Some wounds that require treatment can be closed as long as 24 hours after the injury.

A cut or puncture inside your mouth may need stitches if it:

  • Is deeper than 0.25 in. (7 mm) and has jagged edges, gapes open, or leaves a loose flap of tissue.
  • Is deeper than 0.25 in. (7 mm) and longer than 0.75 in. (20 mm) when the edges are pulled apart.
  • Goes all the way through the cheek or lip.
  • Cuts the edge where the skin meets the lip.
  • Continues to bleed after 15 minutes of direct pressure.

Even a small cut on the lip may be stitched to prevent a scar.

If treatment may be needed, do not use an antiseptic or antibiotic ointment until after a doctor has examined the wound.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer David Messenger, MD
Last Revised July 20, 2012

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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