Bleeding can be frightening for both you and your child, especially if blood is coming from the mouth. The good news is that most injuries that occur and result in mouth bleeding can be handled at home with some basic first aid remedies. 

The most common mouth injuries are cuts to the tongue, the inside of cheeks or the lips. They are often caused by accidentally biting down on the area.

Cuts and bruises of the upper lips generally occur from falls. The most common lip injury is a tear of the skin connecting the upper lip to the gum. Cuts of the lower lip are usually caused by catching the lip between the upper and lower teeth during a fall, but most of these cuts will not go through the lip. 

Here are some basic first-aid treatments you can try:

  • Stay calm and help calm your child.
  • Apply pressure with a clean cloth for several minutes to stop bleeding.
  • For injuries inside the mouth, try rinsing with cool water for several minutes to remove any dirt or debris from the area. Give your child an ice cube to suck on to help reduce bleeding and swelling.
  • For injuries outside the mouth, wash the area well with soap and water, but do not scrub. Apply antiseptic lotion or cream. Avoid blowing on the injury as this can cause germs to grow.

You should call a pediatrician for any of the following reasons:

  • Bleeding doesn’t stop after 10 minutes of direct pressure.
  • A cut is deep, longer than a half inch or has ragged or separated edges or gaping.
  • Your child has a large cut on the face or received a puncture wound.
  • A cut was caused by a dirty or rusty object or by an animal bite.
  • A cut to the lip went through the border or outline of the lip.

Follow these tips to prevent mouth injuries:

  • Teach your child never to run or walk with objects in his or her mouth.
  • Teach your child never to suck or chew on hard, sharp or pointed objects.
  • Have your child wear a mouthguard for sports that could cause injury.

This article was written by Cheryl Lorenz, RN, a pediatric nurse at the St. Louis Children's Hospital Answer Line.


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