Mouth injuries are common, especially in children and people who are more prone to accidents from falls or contact sports. While gum cuts aren’t as common as other types of mouth injuries, they can still happen.
Knowing how to treat a gum incision right away at home is important. This helps wound healing and prevents infections. Knowing when medical treatment is needed is also important.
Learn more about how to deal with a gum cut and when to call a doctor.
You may have cut the outside of your mouth or face. It is also possible to get these types of injuries in your mouth, along the gums above your teeth.
This can result from:
- a fall
- a sports injury
- sharp objects placed in the mouth
It is also possible to get cuts between your teeth. This is less likely due to falls and other injuries, and more likely due to:
- Incorrect floss
- Use of toothbrushes with hard bristles
- with objects like toothpicks
Gum cuts are likely to bleed profusely. This is because the gums have a large supply of blood, much like your tongue and lip areas.
Aside from bleeding and tearing in the gum tissue, you may notice other changes in the appearance of your gums. This can include changes in color and texture. You should also be on the lookout for signs of gingivitis.
A cut on the gum can initially lead to redness and swelling. As the wound heals, the affected areas may temporarily turn white.
It’s not uncommon for sores in the mouth to turn white. This is a standard response to trauma and should go away within a few days.
In response to an injury, your gums may swell, making them bigger than they were before. The swollen area may also appear red and feel tender and sore.
Signs of possible infection can include:
- Pus comes out of the cut
- red stripes that radiate outward from the cut
- worsening pain in the mouth
- increased swelling of the affected gum area
While a gum cut can be worrying, many cases are mild enough to be treated at home.
- Stop the bleeding. The first step is to gently apply a clean cloth or paper towel to your gums for 5 to 10 minutes to stop the bleeding. You can also rinse your mouth with cold water to remove any residue stuck to the cut.
- Try a salt rinse. This can help keep your cut clean so it doesn’t get infected. To make a salt rinse, mix 1 teaspoon of salt with 1 cup of warm water, then rinse for a few seconds. You can repeat the rinse during the day if necessary, especially after meals.
- Change your diet. Making temporary changes to your diet can help relieve discomfort and heal your gum incision. Consider a soft diet and avoid spicy, spicy, or citrus-based foods. Sucking on ice cubes or popsicles can also help reduce swelling.
- Use a cool compress. You can consider applying cool compresses to the cut on your gums. You can do this by holding a soft cloth under cold water and then applying it to the affected area for up to 20 minutes.
- Try medication. Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers can be used to relieve mild pain and discomfort associated with cuts on the gums. Options include ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol). Be sure to ask your doctor before taking any OTC medication and carefully follow the dosage instructions.
While it’s unusual in the gum line, significant cuts that won’t stop the bleeding can be sutured. These can either resolve on their own or have to be removed by a doctor or dentist within a week.
Infected cuts on the gums may require oral antibiotics.
A doctor will prescribe you an antibiotic regimen, which usually lasts at least 7 days. It is important that you take your full prescription even if your gum inflammation improves.
While your gums are delicate and bleed more easily than other areas of the body, they also heal faster. You can expect a small cut on the gum to heal within 3 to 4 days.
The estimated healing time may be longer if the cut is heavier and needs suturing, or if it becomes infected.
As a rule of thumb, if a gum cut doesn’t improve within a few days, it’s important to see a doctor.
Sometimes, despite treatment, a cut on the gum can become infected. It is important to get treated gum inflammation right away before it can spread.
Mild infection can be treated at home with oral antibiotics, while more severe cases may require hospitalization.
You should also see a doctor right away if the gum cut continues to bleed or gets better, but then gets worse. Bleeding that does not stop with compression after 10 minutes is considered a medical emergency.
Other signs that warrant emergency care include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty swallowing fluids and food
- Swelling of the gums or pain that makes it difficult to close your mouth
If your gums are bleeding without any cuts or other related symptoms such as pain, you should see your dentist to rule out periodontal disease. Periodontitis is the medical term for gum disease.
Gum disease is often caused by long-term poor oral hygiene and can manifest itself in the following ways:
With timely treatment, the gum disease can be reversible.
You should call a dentist if you think you have a tooth injury that occurs with bleeding gums with or without visible cuts.
Gum cuts can be caused by sharp or hard objects in the mouth or from falls and other types of injuries. Most gum cuts are mild and will resolve on their own with home care.
If you develop new or worsening symptoms – such as excessive pain, bleeding, or pus – see a doctor for medical treatment.