Mouth injuries are common, especially in children and people who are more prone to accidents from falls or contact sports. Although cuts on the gums don’t happen as often as other types of mouth injuries, they can still do.
It is important to know how to treat a cut on your gums quickly at home. This helps the wound to heal and prevents infection. It is also important to know when to seek medical treatment.
Find out more about how to treat a cut on your gums and when you should call a healthcare professional.
You may have had cuts around the outside of your mouth or your face. It is also possible to have these types of injuries inside your mouth, along the gums above your teeth.
This may result from:
- a fall
- a sports injury
- sharp objects placed in the mouth
It is also possible to cut yourself between your teeth. This is less likely to occur due to falls and other injuries, but rather more likely to result from:
- flossing incorrectly
- using hard bristled toothbrushes
- use objects such as toothpicks
Cuts on the gums are likely to bleed a lot. This is because the gums have a large blood supply, similar to the tongue and lips.
In addition to bleeding and tearing in your gum tissue, you may notice other changes in the appearance of your gums. These could include changes in color and texture. You should also be on the lookout for signs of a gum infection.
At first, a cut on the gums can cause redness and swelling. As the wound heals, the affected areas may temporarily turn white.
It is not uncommon for the sores inside 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, causing them to grow larger than they were before. The swollen area may also appear red, as well as be tender and painful.
Signs of a possible infection can include:
- pus comes out of the cut
- red streaks emitted to the outside by the cut
- worsening pain in the mouth
- increased swelling of the affected gum area
While a cut on your gums can be concerning, many cases are mild enough that you can treat them at home.
- Stop the bleeding. The first step is to gently apply a clean cloth or paper towel to your gums for 5-10 minutes to help stop the bleeding. You can also rinse your mouth with cold water to remove debris 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 lukewarm water, then rinse for several seconds. You can repeat the rinse throughout the day as needed, especially after meals.
- Change your diet. Temporary changes in your diet can help reduce discomfort and allow your cut gum tissue to heal. Consider a diet of soft foods and avoid those that are hot, spicy, or citrus-based. Sucking on ice cubes or popsicles can also help soothe swelling.
- Use a cold compress. You may want to consider applying cold compresses to the cut in your gums. You can do this by running a soft cloth under cold water and then applying it to the affected area for up to 20 minutes.
- Try the drugs. Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers can be used to help 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 over-the-counter medications and follow dosing instructions carefully.
Although rare in the gums, large cuts that do not stop the bleeding may require stitches. These may dissolve on their own or will need to be removed by a doctor or dentist within a week.
Infected cuts on your gums may require oral antibiotics.
A healthcare professional will give you a prescription for a course of antibiotics, which usually lasts at least 7 days. It is important to take your full prescription, even if your gum infection improves.
Although your gums are sensitive and bleed more easily than other parts of the body, they are also more likely to heal quickly. You can expect a minor cut on your gums to heal within 3 to 4 days.
The expected healing time may be longer if the cut is more severe and requires stitches or if it becomes infected.
As a general rule, it is important to see a healthcare professional if a cut on your gums does not improve within a few days.
Sometimes a cut on the gums can become infected despite treatment. It is important to seek treatment for a gum infection immediately, before it can spread.
A mild infection can be treated at home with oral antibiotics, while more severe cases may require hospitalization.
You should also see a healthcare practitioner immediately if the cut on your gum continues to bleed or improves but gets worse again. Bleeding that does not stop with compression after 10 minutes is considered a medical emergency.
Other signs that warrant emergency care include:
- breathing difficulties
- difficulty swallowing liquids and food
- swelling of the gums or pain that makes it difficult to close your mouth
If your gums are bleeding without having any cuts or other associated symptoms such as pain, you should see your dentist to rule out the possibility of periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is the medical term for gum disease.
Often caused by a lack of long-term oral hygiene, gum disease can present in the following ways:
With prompt treatment, gum disease can be reversible.
You should call a dentist if you think you have a dental injury that is occurring with bleeding gums, with or without visible cuts.
Cuts on the gums can be caused by sharp or hard objects placed in your mouth or by falls and other types of injuries. Most gum cuts are mild and resolve on their own with care at home.
If you have any new or worsening symptoms, such as excessive pain, bleeding, or pus, see a healthcare practitioner for medical treatment.