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What to Do When You Have a Cut in Your Mouth

Dealing With Dental Emergencies

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Updated May 16, 2014

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

A cut in your mouth, also known as a laceration, generally happens in conjunction with other dental emergency situations, such as a knocked-out tooth or cracked or broken tooth. When dealing with a cut in the mouth, it is very important to make sure that the bleeding from the wound is controlled. Uncontrolled bleeding may lead to shock, which may cause death if not treated immediately.

To control bleeding caused by dental trauma:

  • Wash your hands and put on a pair of non-latex medical gloves. You can usually find non-latex gloves in a first-Aid kit. If gloves are not available, wash your hands thoroughly.
  • Lay the person down and elevate their head. Doing this will help prevent an additional injury from fainting, and elevating the head should help slow the bleeding.
  • Gently clean debris from the area of the cut. Most cuts involving the inside of the mouth generally do not involve debris. If an object is stuck in the area of the cut, do not try to remove it.
  • Using a clean piece of gauze or a clean towel, apply firm pressure directly on the cut. Once you have the compress in place, do not remove it until the bleeding stops. If the bleeding does not stop when applying pressure, do not remove the gauze. Continue by placing new gauze or towels over the wound, while applying pressure until EMS arrives and you are instructed to do so, or until the person is transported to a dentist or physician.

Uncontrolled bleeding from a dental emergency may lead to shock if its not controlled. It is very important for you to try to control the bleeding as best as you can, and take the measures necessary to prevent shock from occurring. Always keep the person's head elevated above their heart while applying firm pressure to the area of the mouth where the cut is.

Even if you are able to control the bleeding from a cut in the mouth, it is still imperative that you see your dentist for an examination. Cuts in the mouth do tend to heal quickly, but keep in mind that because you eat with your mouth, the cut may become infected. It may be necessary to have stitches placed if the dentist believes the cut could bleed again, and/or an antibiotic may be prescribed if the risk for infection is there.

Sources:

The U.S. National Library of Medicine From the National Institutes of Health - Medline Plus. Bleeding. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000045.htm Accessed: July 19, 2010

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