Around 50% percent of children will have some type of mouth injury. Children can be clumsy which causes periodic trips and falls. Sometimes when they fall, they injure themselves, and that could be scary for anyone.
What are some common injuries?
- Cuts to the tongue: This is the most common because children could bite their tongue when they’re eating, but it also heals quickly.
- Cuts to the upper lip or frenulum (the piece of tissue that joins the upper lip to the gum): These are usually due to falling, and are also very common.
- Cuts to the lower lip: These are usually caused by teeth catching on it when falling or eating. Most of these cuts aren’t severe and won’t need sutures, but sometimes, if the cut is big enough, it will.
- Chipped tooth or tooth falling out: DO NOT PUT THE TOOTH BACK IN. If your child falls hard enough, they can chip a tooth or even make a tooth fall out. Immediately call your dentist. They will decide what is best for your child and their teeth.
- Serious injuries: These are injuries to the tonsils, palate (roof of the mouth), or throat. These can be caused by your child falling with an object in their mouth, like a pencil or a toothbrush. DO NOT REMOVE OBJECT. If this happens, call your doctor immediately.
Some other signs that tell you to act now:
- Major bleeding that won’t stop
- Trouble breathing, swallowing, blurred vision, slurred speech, feeling weak, or numb
- Fever or infection
- Serious neck pain or stiffness, inability to completely open their mouth, drooling, or chest pain
If your child is experiencing any of these symptoms, take them to your doctor now. Depending on the severity of the injury, your doctor will need to take an x-ray, CT scan, or a MRI to check for any foreign objects, fractures in the bone, damage to the root of a tooth, or damage to a blood vessel.
If your child’s injury looks infected, but there’s no fever, call your doctor just to make sure.
There are plenty of other home remedies, though, for the simpler injuries:
- Frenulum (the piece of tissue that joins the upper lip to the gum) bleeding: Press the outer lip against the teeth for about 10 mins. Don’t pull the lip back out to check on it or it will start bleeding again. You can look only after 3 days.
- Cuts on the lips: Put direct pressure on them for about 10 minutes.
- Tongue bleeding: Put pressure on the injury with a clean piece of cloth for about 5 mins. If the injury doesn’t stop bleeding, use a moistened tea bag for 10 mins. This should help. If the area around the injury is white, that is normal. It’s also normal to have a mixture of blood and saliva for a few minutes afterward.
- Cold for pain: Cover a piece of ice or a popsicle in a cloth and press to the injured spot. You can also use a cold washcloth. Do this for 20 minutes.
- Pain medicine: You can give your child an acetaminophen product (like children’s Tylenol) or an ibuprofen product (like children’s Advil) as needed.
- Soft diet: Try giving your child foods that are softer to eat or foods that are colder like milkshakes, popsicles, slushes, sherbet, or ice cream. Avoid citrus, salty, or spicy foods. Also avoid popcorn and straws. After a meal, rinse your child’s mouth with warm water. Try not to brush too hard on the sensitive area when brushing their teeth.
Minor injuries will heal within 3-4 days, so no worries. Infections of minor injuries are rare.
If your child is prone to falling, though, consider buying them a mouthguard for when they’re older. There are inexpensive options out there that could save you a lot of money in the future. Serious injuries could cause damage to permanent teeth or scarring, so it could also save your child from the threat to their appearance and self-confidence when they grow up.