Do you have a bite on your tongue? If you've ever inadvertently done this while playing sports, eating or taking part in another activity, you understand how uncomfortable it can be. Here, our Edmonton dentists offer tips on what to do if you bite your tongue, when to see a dentist and more.
Most people will bite or injure their tongue at some point in their lives, whether due to biting their tongue accidentally while chewing, playing sports or participating in an activity, or experiencing a tongue injury or cut due to trauma or other cause.
Today, our Edmonton dentists will explain common causes of tongue bites, which actions you can take to soothe pain or discomfort, how long these typically take to heal and more.
Common Causes of Tongue Injuries
Usually, tongue punctures or cuts will heal within a day or two. Even tongue sores typically vanish gradually. Here are a few factors that commonly contribute to tongue injuries:
- Continual rubbing against misaligned or misshapen teeth
- Trauma due to physical injury (such as during a fall, or bike or motor vehicle collision)
- After dental anesthesia
- Inadvertently biting tongue while eating
- Biting tongue while sleeping
- Cuts due to broken or sharp fillings
- Cuts and punctures due to sharp or hard foods
How can a bleeding or painful tongue be treated?
Most cases of tongue bites or injuries are minor and do not require emergency dental care. When you bite your tongue, it's also possible that you may have bitten your lips or the inside of your mouth.
We recommend treating these areas similar to how you'd treat your tongue.
What to Do if You Bite Your Tongue
Take these steps to minimize pain and help your minor tongue injury to heal properly:
- Use soap and water to wash your hands, and/or wear latex gloves to avoid infecting the injury.
- Rinse your mouth with water so the injury is more visible.
- Apply cloth or gauze to the injured area. Use pressure to stop the bleeding.
- Wrap a thin cloth around ice or a cold pack and apply it to the outside of the lips or mouth if there's any swelling.
- Contact your dentist if bleeding doesn't stop or if you notice a visible deformity, new bleeding or signs of infection.
If the injury is severe, or if there's bleeding that does not stop and your injury does not heal on its own, contact your dentist as soon as possible for next steps. We'll do our best to make room in our schedule as soon as possible.
How a Dentist Can Treat Tongue Bites
Our dentists at Azarko Dental Group can visually assess the injured area to determine the right treatment. They'll first attempt to stop any bleeding. Depending on the severity of your injury, this may be a dental emergency. Your dentist may:
- Use dissolvable stitches or sutures to close a deep or side cut
- Remove a foreign object with special tools
- Prescribe antibiotics to treat or prevent infection
- Reattach to connect any part of the tongue that's been bitten off (rare)
If you're prescribed antibiotics for a mouth or tongue injury, make sure to take these as directed. Even if you're feeling better, don't stop taking your course of antibiotics without your dentist's direction.
When should I see a dentist for a bitten or cut tongue?
Contact your dentist for an appointment as soon as possible if your injured tongue:
- Appears red or swollen
- Feels warm
- Has red streaks or pus
- Feels very painful
- Bleeds excessively, or bleeds for a second time after the original bleeding has stopped
- Is visibly deformed (the cut is deep and wide)
- Is accompanied by a fever
- Causes a lingering foul taste in your mouth
How long does an injured tongue take to heal?
How long a tongue bite or injury takes to heal depends on its severity. Less severe tongue injuries tend to heal on their own within a week, while more severe injuries will need a dentist's attention and may require stitches and medication. These may take several weeks or even months to fully heal.
A tongue bite may also bleed, even if it's small. These may or may not require treatment from your dentist.
While a tongue bite or injury can be a painful or frightening experience, they are typically easy to care for.
They may or may not require attention from your dentist. Your Edmonton dentists are here to answer any questions or concerns you may have, or provide further direction if you are unsure whether your injured tongue requires treatment at our office or if you can use home remedies.