How to deal with cuts and minor soft tissues in and around the mouth

Swollen lip can occur due to direct trauma


There are many reasons why you may get cuts and soft tissue injuries in and around the mouth, including trauma and unexpected reasons like sharp pieces of food or unexpected foreign objects in food (like bone).

The main types of wounds to be expected are cuts, grazes, minor lacerations, puncture wounds. They can be very painful as the wound stretches during normal function and can also sting and bleed profusely.

The wounds generally tend to bleed a lot because the mouth is very heavily vascularised, and the bleeding can sometimes be surprising as it is not proportional to the size of the injury. As the blood mixes with saliva, it can appear even more serious than it really is.

Management is fairly straight forward. Most minor injuries in the mouth will heal of their own accord over the course of a few days.

First, don’t panic.

  1. Try to keep the area clean. Bathe the area with warm salty water or an antiseptic mouthwash
  2. Bleeding normally stops after a few minutes of compression with some clean gauze or cotton. If you don’t have access, a clean tea bag will do the job
  3. Avoid spicy and hot food-these will probably sting.
  4. Use painkillers if required.
Swollen lip can occur due to direct trauma
Cuts and swollen lips and mouth

If you find that the wound and pain is not improving after a few days, or if you are having difficulty stopping bleeding, then you should see your emergency dentist. Control of bleeding is a real dental emergency, and if necessary arrange to see a 24 hour dentist.

The emergency dentist will assess why your wound is not healing or stopping bleeding. To help stop bleeding, especially if the wound is deep, your dentist may apply chemicals to help or place stitches.

If the wound is not healing, the emergency dentist may check for infection. This is more common if the wound has not been cared for, if you smoke, if the wound is very deep or if you have underlying medical conditions.

Please do not place clove oil on wounds, it burns the tissue and you will find it more painful than necessary.

If you have suffered trauma that has caused the wound, you may need to go to A/E for further follow-up, including tetanus shots.