Symptoms and Signs of Mouth Wounds

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 3/5/2022

Doctor's Notes on Mouth Wounds

Mouth wounds may occur in children, adults, or almost anyone at any age. Mouth wound signs and symptoms include

  • pain,
  • bleeding,
  • cuts and/or lacerations of any mouth structures including lips,
  • swelling,
  • bruising,
  • minor to major tissue loss, and
  • tooth and gum injuries.

Mouth wounds usually have one of three major causes: blunt trauma to the mouth, sharp object penetration to mouth structures, or wounds to mouth tissue due to the person's own teeth (for example, teeth lacerating cheeks or lips during a fall).

What Are the Treatments for Mouth Wounds?

For small wounds (less than about ½ inch) that stop bleeding after holding pressure on it for a few minutes, remove dirt particles, wash with soap and water if wound is outside of the mouth and apply an antiseptic lotion or cream and use sunscreen. Reduce swelling inside and outside of the mouth by sucking on a popsicle or ice chips. Inside the mouth wounds are flushed with water only; they often heal on their own. However, mouth wounds need medical attention under the following circumstances:

  • Continued bleeding after 5-10 minutes of direct pressure
  • Wound is deep or longer than ½ inch
  • Large wound on the face or cuts through the lip
  • Contaminated with dirt and other debris
  • Wound has ragged edges
  • Infection signs: redness, warm, swelling, oozing
  • Wound caused by a human or animal bite
  • Wound goes through the mouth to the outside
  • Wound is extremely painful
  • Wound may include a bone injury
  • You have any concerns about the wound and its care

Mouth wounds may need more than one treatment such as special stitching, debridement, plastic surgery, antibiotics, bone fracture treatment, and others. Your doctor can discuss the treatment options that best fit your condition.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.