What to Do When You Have a Cut in Your Mouth

When there's no dentist around, you need to take steps to stop bleeding

Man with sensitive teeth touching his cheek
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A cut in your mouth, also known as a laceration, most often happens along with another dental emergency, such as a knocked-out, 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. 

In a situation where bleeding is not able to be controlled, you may need to take steps to stop the bleeding before you can reach medical attention.

How to Control Dental Bleeding

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.

If you're treating another person, make sure the person's head is elevated, whether he is lying down or seated. You want to prevent any additional injury should the person faint from blood loss, and elevating the head should help slow the bleeding.

If you're treating a cut in your own mouth, get in front of a mirror. It will be messy, but you need to see what you're doing. Try to sit down if you can, because again, you may get lightheaded from blood loss.

Apply Pressure to a Cut in the Mouth

Gently clean any debris from the area of the cut, but if an object is stuck in the area of the cut, do not try to remove it. This may make the bleeding worse. 

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 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.

Cleaning a Cut in a Dry Mouth

If the mouth is dry you may need to use water to wash the cut, however, saliva will usually pool around the cut and prevent a blood clot from forming. In this situation, continue to use the gauze to dry the area so that the blood clot can form (when the blood clots, the bleeding stops). 

Uncontrolled bleeding from a dental emergency may lead to shock. Always keep the person's head elevated above the heart while applying firm pressure to the area of the mouth where the cut is.

Follow-Up Treatment With Your Dentist

Even if you can control the bleeding from a cut in the mouth, it is still important that you see a dentist for an examination. Cuts in the mouth do tend to heal quickly, but watch for infection, especially when eating or drinking.

If your dentist believes there's a high risk of infection, he may prescribe antibiotics. And if either of you is concerned that the cut may reopen before it has time to heal, your dentist might decide to put in some stitches.

Most dental stitches dissolve over time, so a return trip to have the stitches removed isn't usually necessary. But you will want to follow up with your dentist to make sure the cut has healed to his satisfaction.

View Article Sources
  • The U.S. National Library of Medicine From the National Institutes of Health: Bleeding