The soft tissues of your mouth are sensitive and delicate, and can be very painful when injured. Soft tissue also contains several nerves, and it can be very painful when the tissue is damaged. Bleeding and soft tissue injuries to your tongue, cheeks, gums, and lips may occur due to injury or other trauma, including biting down on your soft tissues, food that is too hot, and chewing hard objects. When injury occurs, there are several steps you can take at home to stop the bleeding:
- Rinse your mouth with warm salt water (1/2 teaspoon in 8 ounces of water).
- Apply gentle, direct pressure with a compress or piece of damp gauze for 10-15 minutes. If you don’t have gauze, a compress, or a clean cloth, you can also use a sanitary napkin, tampon, or a clean piece of material that will soak up blood and saliva.
- Outside of the mouth, you may apply a cold compress, which you can hold in place for 10-20 minutes. This will help reduce swelling and slow the bleeding.
- If the bleeding does not stop after you apply pressure, the injury may be serious and you should go to an emergency room for immediate treatment.
Injuries within the mouth or lips can bleed profusely because the tissue contains several blood vessels. If the bleeding does not stop within a few minutes, it may be a sign that your injury is serious. Contact your dentist or visit the emergency room at the local hospital immediately. Maintain pressure on the area until you receive treatment.
Dentists are trained in diagnosing and repairing damage to the soft tissues, but serious injuries will need to be treated by doctors and oral surgeons in hospital emergency rooms. If this is the case for you, the doctor or oral surgeon who treats you will wash the injured area thoroughly, and determine if any teeth are loose or damaged. If the injury is limited to the gum or other soft tissues, you may receive stitches to close the wound and stop the bleeding. Stitches are often unnecessary, however, and the doctor may only need to clean the area to prevent dirt or debris from entering the wound and causing infection.