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What to Do When You Bite Your Lip or Tongue

Dealing With Dental Emergencies


Updated May 28, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

What to Do When You Bite Your Lip or Tongue
Photo: David McNew / Getty Images

Biting down on your lip or tongue usually happens unexpectedly. Children, though, are at high risk for biting their lip or cheek after being anesthetized for dental work. Most times, it only results in pain, but there are instances where biting down on your lip or tongue requires medical attention.

What to Do:

  • When you bite your lip or tongue, assess the area for any debris, especially if the injury occurred from a fall. Clean the area gently with a clean piece of gauze. If there is debris stuck inside the wound, do not attempt to remove it.
  • Control any bleeding by applying firm pressure over the wound, with a clean piece of gauze or a clean towel. If the bleeding doesn't stop, continue applying pressure to the area, and call 911 or head to the nearest medical center for immediate care.
  • If the bleeding does stop, apply a cold compress to the area to reduce swelling.
  • It may be necessary to take an over-the-counter pain relief medication to manage any discomfort from the wound.
  • As the wound heals, inspect it for any signs of infection. If you suspect the area has become infected, see your dentist or physician as soon as possible.


The American Dental Association. Tips for Dealing With Dental Emergencies - Bitten Lip or Tongue. http://www.ada.org/370.aspx Accessed: July 19, 2010

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