What to do when you bite your tongue literally!
It happens. You’re in a car accident, trip going up the stairs or are bumped too hard during your weekly volleyball game. Then you realize your mouth really hurts and you have a dental problem. This article is to help you take some triage steps in a dental emergency, but nothing replaces going to the dentist. So take a few minutes to enter his number into your cell phone and be prepared to call and get direct information. Until then, let’s review a few common scenarios so you know what to do.
The tongue actually heals very quickly all on its own, so most bitten tongues will be OK with some TLC. This includes using water to wash the area clean and apply some ice to reduce the swelling. You can apply pressure to the tongue simply by pressing the tongue against the roof of the mouth.
If the cut gapes open, has a bad smell, continues to bleed or has dirt or contaminants in it, then you might wish to visit the emergency room as quickly as possible. It’s a myth that tongues never require stitches, so if the cut is more than inch long, the doctor might sew it up.
While it’s healing, you may wish to watch what you eat and reduce spicy or irritating foods. For about 4-5 days, you can expect some soreness. If you get a fever, bad breath or the cut won’t heal, contact the dentist or doctor for further treatment.
If you bite through the lip see a doctor immediately. This should not be treated at home and could be very dangerous. You also want to check the gum line underneath the cut to make sure nothing else is broken. Like the tongue, wash the cut thoroughly and apply some ice to reduce swelling.
You can also rinse the wound with hydrogen peroxide, but make sure you don’t swallow the solution.
If it continues to bleed or the cut changes shape as the lip moves, then immediately get to a doctor. It may require stitches to fully close the wound. And again, watch for infections while it is healing.
You’ll know the wound is infected if it won’t heal, smells bad, or you feel your glands underneath the jaw line swell up. In some instances, dentists may go ahead and give a dose of antibiotics at the time of the initial accident. This is because the lips and tongue are very easy to contaminate through food.
In any case, if you have an emergency and don’t know what to do, call your dentist for advice.