First comes the horrible crunching sensation, quickly followed by a burst of pain. "Oh no, I bit my tongue!" Whether it happens while you're eating, playing sports or otherwise, biting your tongue is upsetting and uncomfortable. Fortunately, tongue injuries are rarely serious and you can often treat them at home.
The cut or puncture wound that results from biting your tongue often heals by itself without medical treatment. However, the rich blood supply to the tongue may cause the wound to bleed or swell. To control the bleeding, firmly press a clean cloth to the affected area for five minutes or longer. Alternatively, wrap the cloth around crushed ice before pressing it to the wound, which might help control the swelling and pain.
To clean a wound on your tongue, rinse your mouth with a solution of one part water to one part hydrogen peroxide. Additionally, you can rinse your mouth with warm salt water after meals to help relieve the pain. Make the mixture by dissolving 1 teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water, then swish the liquid in your mouth and spit it out.
Regardless of whether or not the wound has been treated, you should pay attention to signs of infection. If you experience increased redness, develop a fever or notice pus in the wound after the injury, you may have an infection. A physician can prescribe antibiotics to help treat a tongue infection.
Biting your tongue can become a bad habit. When the wound swells, it can be hard to avoid biting the same place again.
If you have a condition like an enlarged tongue or a misaligned jaw in particular, tongue injuries may occur more than once. Start by applying home treatments to the tongue wound and speak to your dentist if you're concerned about repeatedly biting your tongue due to a misaligned bite. In that case, orthodontics may be in order.
Biting your tongue while eating is not often a cause for concern, but be especially careful if you're treating a tongue wound from a sports injury or other accident. When a tongue injury results in heavy bleeding or an infection, it's time to seek medical treatment. Occasionally, the cut may be so deep or wide that it needs dissolving sutures, or stitches, to hold the tongue together while it heals.
Biting your tongue is one of life's downsides, but the consequences aren't usually serious. Treat your injury with home remedies to reduce pain and help keep the cut clean. If the wound on your tongue won't stop bleeding or you spot signs of an infection, see a medical professional immediately.