Biting your tongue is quite a common habit and something you do from time to time somewhat unconsciously. Older adults tend to be more likely to bite their tongue due to health reasons or problems with their sense of taste. Biting your tongue is never good as it can lead to swelling and inflammation, and in severe cases, it could result in a blood infection. The injury must heal properly. If you have bitten your tongue, avoid touching the wound unless necessary and try not to eat or drink until things settle down. Typical injuries take only 5 to 7 days to heal. But intolerable bleeding and pain may require immediate attention.
You must know that it’s a type of dental emergency. If bleeding and pain don’t subside, your dentist would need to stitch the affected part and prescribe medication. In such cases, recovery can take about a couple of days or months. So, keep this in mind. Anyway, here is a quick overview of what you can do with your bitten tongue at home to soothe discomfort and when to seek medical intervention.
Caring for bitten tongue
Prioritize cleaning your wound. When you get a deep cut, there will be a pool of blood. It may make it difficult to assess what is going on inside the mouth and where to clean it. So breathe and remember that it’s essential to stop the bleeding first. If you are sure there is no debris inside the area, use a clean piece of gauze and gently wipe over the area until all of the blood gets removed. Be careful not to put too much pressure or do any serious digging because this can cause infection. If you are still doubtful about how bad the situation is, seeing a doctor before cleaning up or applying any first aid cream is necessary.
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Nevertheless, after cleaning the cut, you can wash the affected area and entire mouth with cold water. When rinsing your mouth, use salt water. Check for the bleeding. If it doesn’t stop, you need to apply a bit of force to it with a clean towel or gauze. If the situation doesn’t improve, visiting a nearby dental clinic for emergency care can be the best decision. However, if it stops bleeding, you can use ice on the affected area to control swelling. For internal mouth injuries, having a popsicle or holding ice cubes in the mouth can be helpful. Or, if you plan to apply a cold pack, avoid using ice directly on the skin. It can damage your skin. Always wrap the ice in a cloth before putting it on the external walls of the mouth.
You may have to take OTC medication to treat your bitten tongue for pain relief. You can have them once the wound has healed. Also, avoid consuming any food or drink item containing acidic elements or salt as these can hurt the area more. Yogurt, custards, eggs, ice creams, tuna, canned fruits & veggies, soups, peanut butter, and other soft food and drink items can be a part of your diet at this stage.
After consuming your food, don’t forget to wash your mouth with water. Also, even if the cut is improving, you would want to keep an eye on the signs of infection. Some common symptoms include swelling, fever, tenderness, inflammation, pus, etc. You will want to see your dentist if there is a risk of infection.
Dental clinic visit
Most mouth injuries tend to self-heal. But certain cases demand medical intervention, and you must not take them lightly. For example, any incident of debris getting lodged in the cut would need safe removal by an expert dentist. Non-stop bleeding may be an indication that the area requires stitching. Deep cuts, infection (mentioned above), and others also ask for medical help.
Preventive measures for tongue bites
Although it is not entirely preventable, you can take some safety precautions to avoid hurting your tongue accidentally. For example, one of the common causes of this type of injury can be car accidents. You can prevent or minimize this risk by wearing seatbelts. Athletes need to cover their mouths with masks and mouthguards during sports activities. Also, one has to be careful when chewing their food because people often bite their tongues during this time.
Another scenario that can lead to this is the condition of seizures. If your loved one has this health problem, it is better to consult the healthcare team in advance to know what to do if something like this occurs. They can also consult dentists to understand the techniques to handle these problems. Patients with sleep apnea can also be at this risk.
Biting your tongue is a common injury that is easily curable. Usually, minor cuts and scrapes to the tongue heal without much treatment. Even then, it’s vital to get your cut cleaned to decrease the risk of infection. If bleeding doesn’t stop or there are signs of infection, such as pus in the mouth, seeking medical attention is a must. Remember, the tongue is an integral part of your oral makeup. A hurt tongue can impede your speech, and the bacteria from the wound can spread quickly to other parts of your mouth, aggravating the dental health problem. So be on your guard.
While seeking medical attention is crucial, you shouldn’t fear the dentist. They are like your general physicians. Like them, they will investigate the wound, clean and treat it, and advise on the right course of action. At the same time, they will ensure that nothing significant happens and your mouth recovers faster. The cost of treatment may vary depending on the kind of attention it requires. Nevertheless, in these emergencies, your priority has to be finding the proper dentist and getting your bitten tongue back to normal.