Most people have had their share of scrapes, cuts and bruises; some severe, some not so bad. The mouth is certainly susceptible to its share of injuries, as well, such as a cut on the gums.
Gum Cut Causes
A cut gum can happen more easily and unexpectedly than you might think. A slip of the toothbrush is at the top of the list of causes, along with flossing too hard, eating sharp foods (think: a pointed corn chip), or using a non-dental item, such as a toothpick. A lot of gum cuts will heal on their own, but some do need treatment.
Treatment and Healing for Gum Cuts
The soft tissues in the mouth, including the gums, can suffer cuts easily due to their delicate nature. Symptoms of a cut on gums include a laceration and bleeding. The cut might appear to be bleeding heavily, but this could be due to the blood mixing with saliva. Most soft tissue cuts don't require medical attention, but you should rinse your mouth with diluted saltwater or an antiseptic mouthwash. After applying pressure to the cut, ice it to slow the bleeding and minimize discomfort. If the bleeding doesn't subside, then make an appointment with your dentist. If the cut is something that won't heal on its own, you may need stitches to close the wound.
Children and Gum Cuts
If your child suffers a gum cut, the University of Rochester Medical Center outlines some steps to take. Calm and soothe your child so that they know you're there to help. Wash your hands thoroughly, since you'll probably have to put them in your child's mouth to assess the extent of the cut. Rinse the cut and the surrounding area well with cool water and remove any dirt particles to help keep the cut clean. If the bleeding continues, apply pressure using a clean cloth or gauze. You can also try giving your child an ice pop or ice cube to suck on to minimize the bleeding and swelling.
If the bleeding doesn't stop after five to 10 minutes of pressure, seek medical attention. Additional reasons for calling a health care professional include:
- If the cut exceeds ½ inch in length.
- If the cut was caused by a puncture wound or rusted object.
- If the injury resulted from a human or animal bite.
- If it appears to be infected.
- If your child hasn't had an updated tetanus shot in the past five years.
Prevention of Cuts on Gums
Mouth guards come in three styles: custom-made, ready-made and boil-and-bite. A dentist can provide a custom-made mouth guard, while a ready-made can be purchased at any sporting goods store. A boil-and-bite mouth guard is a piece of plastic that gets placed in boiling water. Once the plastic is soft enough, you can bite into it to form a mold of your teeth.
Your first and best line of defense when it comes to oral health should be your dentist. Don't hesitate to make an appointment when a concern arises, whether it's a gum injury or a toothache. Your dentist is there not only to perform regular dental treatment, but to diagnose and treat any oral issues.