Cuts and wounds on the mouth and lips


Children often get minor cuts, wounds, and lacerations to the mouth and lips while playing or climbing or during sports activities. Many of these injuries can be handled at home with simple first aid treatment.

First Aid at Home

  • Apply pressure with a clean cloth or bandage for several minutes to stop bleeding. The gums, tongue, and lips have a rich blood supply, and cuts in these areas may bleed a lot.

  • If your child has a cut on the tongue, try pulling the tongue forward and then put pressure on the wound with gauze or a clean washcloth.

  • For smaller cuts and scrapes, clean the wound with warm water. You can use soap to clean off the area around the wound, but try to avoid getting soap directly in the wound.

  • Use an antibiotic ointment on the cut to help prevent infection and reduce scarring.

When to Call the Doctor

In general, call your child’s doctor right away if:

  • A wound is bleeding heavily and does not stop after five to 10 minutes of direct pressure

  • A cut is deep or jagged, or the edges gape open

  • It is caused by a puncture wound or dirty or rusty object and your child has not had a tetanus shot

  • A wound has dirt, stones, or gravel in it

  • The wound is caused by an animal or human bite

  • A tooth has been knocked out or knocked loose

Preventing Mouth and Head Injuries

Preventing accidents is not always possible, but following basic safety guidelines can help guard against some injuries:

  • Keep sharp objects, including pens and pencils, away from babies.

  • Watch children when playing with pets. Bites to the face are a common injury.

  • Always use seatbelts and child car seats when driving.

  • Make sure your child wears a helmet while biking, skateboarding, or roller skating.

  • If your child plays a sport that might cause facial injury, such as hockey, basketball, or racquetball, buy a faceguard to wear during practices and games.

  • Have your child wear a mouth guard for any sports activities that could cause injury.



“What to Do in a Dental Emergency.” Know Your Teeth, Academy of General Dentistry, January 2012. Accessed 2013.

“Wound Healing and Care.” 2013.

“First Aid: Cuts, Scrapes, and Stitches.” American Academy of Family Physicians, December 2010. Accessed 2013.

“Sports Safety Tips.” Safe Kids Worldwide. Accessed 2013.

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