Accidents happen and one common mishap many of us have experienced is accidentally biting our lips or tongue. This seemingly innocent act can be more than just a painful inconvenience.
In this blog post, we will explore the causes of bitten tongues, why it hurts when you bite your tongue, how to promote faster healing, when to seek medical care, and why immediate attention is necessary.
Causes of Bitten Tongue or Lip
- Accidental bites. People might commonly bite their lips or tongue accidentally while eating or talking. A sudden movement or distraction can lead to a misalignment of the jaws, resulting in a bite.
- Chewing gum. Chewing gum might sometimes lead to an accidental bite, especially if one is not paying attention.
- Dental issues. Misaligned teeth or dental restorations like braces can increase the likelihood of biting the inner cheeks, lips, or tongue.
- Sports injuries. A sudden jolt, impact, or blow to the face during sports can cause an accidental bite.
- Neurological disorders. Certain conditions, like Tourette’s syndrome, can involve involuntary mouth movements, increasing the risk of biting.
- Seizures. During a seizure, uncontrollable muscle contractions can lead to biting the tongue or lip.
- Nervous habits. Some people habitually bite their lips or the inside of their cheeks when they’re anxious, stressed, or concentrating.
- Drug reactions. Some medications or drugs can cause repetitive or uncontrollable mouth movements. Examples include certain antipsychotic medications.
- Oral surgeries or procedures. After a dental procedure, especially if anesthesia was used, there might be a temporary lack of sensation, and one could accidentally bite one’s lip or tongue without realizing it.
- Sleeping. Some people might bite their tongue during sleep, especially if they have conditions like sleep bruxism (teeth grinding).
- Age. Young children, especially when first learning to chew solid foods, might be more prone to accidentally biting their tongues or lips.
I Bit My Lip and Now I Have a White Bump, What Should I Do?
If you have bitten your lip and now have a white bump, it is important to understand that there can be various causes for this condition. Here are some possible steps you can take:
- Observe the bump. Monitor the size, appearance, and any changes in the white bump on your lip. Take note of any accompanying symptoms, such as pain, inflammation, or discomfort.
- Practice good oral hygiene. Maintain proper oral hygiene by gently brushing your teeth and lips with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Avoid harsh scrubbing or irritating the affected area.
- Apply a warm compress. If the white bump is causing discomfort, you can try applying a warm compress to the area. This can help alleviate pain and promote healing by increasing blood circulation.
- Avoid picking or popping the bump. Refrain from picking, squeezing, or popping the white bump, which can lead to further irritation, infection, or scarring.
- Consult a healthcare professional. If the white bump persists, grows larger, becomes painful, or shows no signs of improvement after a few days, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional. They can assess the bump, determine the underlying cause, and provide appropriate treatment options.
I Bit My Tongue Really Bad, What Should I Do?
While most tongue bites heal on their own within a few days or weeks, here are first-aid advice you can follow:
- Control the bleeding. After accidentally biting your tongue, firmly press the cut with a clean cloth and hold it for five minutes or until the bleeding stops.
- Cold compress. Apply a cold compress or suck on a piece of ice to reduce swelling and numb the area. You can also gargle cold water or other cold liquids. Cold temperatures can constrict blood vessels, minimizing bleeding and swelling. This offers immediate relief and reduces the likelihood of complications.
- Salt water rinse. Rinse your mouth gently with a warm salt water solution (1/2 teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water). Salt water can help clean the wound and prevent infections. It also reduces inflammation and can soothe any pain or discomfort from the injury.
- Clean your oral wound with hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide can be used as an antiseptic for oral wounds, including a bitten tongue. Dilute it with equal water (typically, a 1:1 ratio of 3% hydrogen peroxide to water). Swish the diluted solution gently in your mouth for a short duration, about 30 seconds, then spit it out. Make sure not to swallow.
- Keep the area clean. Maintain good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth gently and avoid the injured area when possible. Keeping the mouth clean can prevent infections and complications. Bacteria in the mouth can slow down the healing process if allowed to settle on the wound.
- Over-the-counter pain medications. Over-the-counter medicine for pain, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can help if the pain is severe. These medications can reduce inflammation and relieve pain, but always follow the recommended dosage and check with a healthcare professional if unsure.
- Avoid irritating substances. Avoid spicy, hot, or acidic foods and drinks, which can irritate the wound. These substances can cause a stinging sensation on open wounds and might delay healing by causing further irritation.
- Soft diet. Opt for soft foods that don’t require much chewing, like yogurt, mashed potatoes, and smoothies. This minimizes movement in the mouth and reduces the risk of re-injury or putting pressure on the wound.
- Avoid alcohol and tobacco. Stay away from alcoholic beverages and tobacco products. Both alcohol and tobacco can irritate the wound. Additionally, they can disrupt the healing process and increase the risk of infections.
- Topical gel or ointment. Use oral gels or ointments designed to relieve pain from mouth injuries. These products create a protective barrier over the wound, reduce pain, and often have ingredients that can promote healing.
- Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Hydration is vital for the body’s overall healing process. Moreover, drinking water can help flush debris and bacteria from the wound.
- Seek professional advice. If there is severe pain, the bite is deep with uncontrollable bleeding and/or heavy bleeding, or if it shows symptoms of infection (like pus, increased swelling, or a foul smell), you may need medical attention. A professional can properly assess the severity of the injury and guide further steps or treatments. Sometimes, you may need to call a professional immediately for emergency care.
What Is the Average Bitten Tongue or Lips Healing Time?
The average healing time for a bitten tongue or lips depends on the severity of the injury.
Here are some estimates:
- Most minor tongue injuries or lip bites heal quickly within a few days to a week.
- Small lacerations on the tongue, lips, or inside of the mouth may take three to four days to heal.
- Severe tongue injuries with bleeding and pain, healing may take longer, up to two weeks or more.
It’s important to note that individual healing times may vary, and it’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice and treatment options.
When Should I See a Specialist for a Bitten Tongue?
Here are situations when you need to see a specialist for medical treatment:
- Severe bleeding. If you cannot control the bleeding after 10-15 minutes of applying direct pressure with a clean cloth or gauze, you should seek immediate medical attention.
- Deep lacerations. If the bite has resulted in a significant tongue wound that has flaps of tissue or exposes underlying muscle, it’s essential to see a specialist. Such injuries might require stitches to heal properly.
- Tongue infection signs. If you notice increasing pain, swelling, pus discharge, a foul smell, or if the area feels unusually warm to the touch, these could be signs of an infection.
- Difficulty swallowing or breathing. If the swelling from the bite impacts your ability to swallow or breathe, seek medical attention immediately.
- Tetanus concerns. If the bite is deep and you haven’t had a tetanus shot in the past five years, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare provider.
- Impaired function. If you’re struggling with regular oral functions like speaking, eating, or if the bite interferes with the positioning or movement of your teeth, it’s good to see a specialist.
- Persistent, intense pain. While some pain is expected, if it persists for over a few days without improvement or intensifying, it might be worth getting it checked out.
- Previous medical conditions. If you have conditions that impair healing or increase the risk of infections, like diabetes, it’s essential to monitor the injury closely and consult a healthcare provider if there’s any doubt.
Why Is Immediate Care Necessary for Bitten Tongue and Lips?
1. Prevention of Complications
Seeking immediate care helps prevent potential complications such as infections. Bitten tongues and lips can be prone to bacteria, leading to infections if not properly treated. Immediate care can minimize the risk of infection and subsequent complications.
2. Pain Management
Prompt treatment allows for appropriate pain management. Dentists or other healthcare professionals can provide pain-relieving techniques or recommend over-the-counter remedies to alleviate discomfort and promote a more comfortable healing process.
3. Facilitation of Proper Healing
Immediate care promotes faster and more efficient injured tongue and lips healing. Healthcare professionals can assess the severity of the injury and provide proper wound care advice. This includes maintaining good oral hygiene, keeping the wound clean, and preventing further irritation, which encourages optimal healing.
4. Prevention of Further Damage
Timely intervention can help prevent further damage to the tongue and lips. By seeking immediate care, you can receive guidance on minimizing aggravation of the injury, such as avoiding certain foods or behaviors that may hinder the healing process.
5. Providing Reassurance and Peace of Mind
Seeking immediate care for a bitten tongue and lips can provide reassurance and peace of mind to individuals experiencing pain or anxiety due to the injury. Knowing that appropriate care is being received can alleviate some of the stress associated with the situation.
Biting your tongue or lips might seem like a minor accident, but it can be more significant than you think. By understanding the causes of bitten tongues, why it hurts, and how to promote faster healing, you can take better care of yourself. Remember, if you experience a severe bite, persistent pain, or see signs of infection, seek professional help.