Bit Your Tongue? When You Should Seek Immediate Care!

little girl showing bitten tongue

We’ve all been there—enjoying a delicious meal when suddenly, we bite our tongue. The unexpected, sharp burst of pain is enough to make anyone wince. The immediate reaction usually involves a quick trip to the bathroom to inspect the damage, or you might panic and think, “I bit my tongue really bad; what should I do next?”

Biting your tongue is more common than you might think and can happen to anyone at any time. But how do you know when a simple tongue bite needs more than just a little TLC?

What to Do About Your Bitten Tongue

  • Rinse With Warm Salt Water. Mix a teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water and rinse your mouth gently. This helps to clean the wound and reduce the risk of inflammation and bacterial activity. Be sure to swish the solution around in your mouth with water for at least 30 seconds before spitting it out.
  • Apply a Cold Compress. Press a piece of ice or a cold compress against the damaged area to relieve discomfort and minimize swelling. This can also help slow down the bleeding. Remember to use a barrier like a clean cloth between the ice and your skin to prevent ice burn.
  • Maintain Oral Hygiene. Keep the mouth clean to avoid infections. Brush your teeth gently, avoiding the injured area, and consider using a mild antiseptic mouthwash. Good oral health practices will promote faster healing and reduce bacterial activity.
  • Avoid Spicy or Hot Foods. Spicy foods and hot food can irritate the wound, causing unnecessary pain and slowing down the healing process. Stick to soft foods like cottage cheese, smooth peanut butter, and well-cooked or canned fruits until the wound starts to heal.
  • Apply Gentle Pressure. If the injury is bleeding heavily, apply continuous pressure using a clean cloth or a piece of gauze. Hold the pressure for several minutes to help blood clot and stop the bleeding. Be gentle yet firm to avoid worsening the injury.

When to See a Doctor for Emergency Care

Persistent, Heavy Bleeding

If your tongue is bleeding heavily and applying direct pressure with a clean cloth or piece of gauze doesn’t stop it, seek immediate medical attention. Heavy bleeding can indicate a deep wound that needs professional care to stop the blood flow. Prolonged bleeding not only causes discomfort but also increases the risk of infection. If the bleeding doesn’t stop, the best option is to go to an urgent care center or emergency hospital.

Deep or Large Puncture Wounds

A deep or large puncture wound on your tongue is a serious injury that typically requires stitches to heal properly. These kinds of injuries can extend through multiple layers of the tongue tissue, making them more prone to severe bleeding and infection. Immediate care ensures that the wound is thoroughly cleaned and closed, preventing further complications. Don’t hesitate to seek help if you notice a large puncture wound.

Visible Deformity or Disfigurement

If your tongue looks severely injured or disfigured, it’s important to consult a medical professional right away. Visible deformity may indicate damage to underlying structures and might require advanced practitioners for proper assessment and treatment. Delaying care can lead to prolonged healing times and potentially long-lasting issues. A professional can provide the necessary aid to restore functionality and appearance.

Signs of Infection

Symptoms indicating an infection, such as pus, a foul taste in the mouth, increased swelling, or fever, require immediate medical attention. If not treated promptly, infections can escalate quickly and lead to more serious health issues. A healthcare provider may prescribe antiseptics and antibiotics to treat the infection. Early intervention is key to preventing further complications.

Difficulty Speaking or Eating

If you find it hard to speak or eat due to swelling, pain, or the severity of the wound, it’s wise to seek medical care. Difficulty in performing basic functions can indicate a more serious injury that needs professional attention. Medical care can provide pain management and a proper treatment plan to aid in faster recovery. Don’t let the pain go unchecked if it’s affecting your daily activities.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea or Nighttime Seizures

Frequent tongue bites occurring during sleep might be a sign of an underlying condition like sleep apnea or epilepsy. These conditions require medical diagnosis and treatment to prevent repeated injuries. A dental professional might recommend an oral device to help manage these conditions and protect the tongue. Seeking medical advice ensures that the root cause is addressed and future injuries are minimized.

Bitten Tongue Healing Time

Minor Tongue Injuries

Minor tongue injuries generally heal within a few days to a week. These injuries typically involve slight pain, minimal bleeding, and superficial cuts that don’t require extensive treatment. Keeping the mouth clean by rinsing with warm salt water and applying a cold compress can significantly aid in the healing process. Avoiding spicy or hot foods also helps prevent further irritation and promotes faster recovery.

Severe Tongue Injuries

Severe tongue injuries can take several weeks to heal and often necessitate medical attention and follow-up care. These injuries might include deep wounds, heavy bleeding, and visible damage that could impair speaking or eating. Immediate medical intervention, including stitches, antiseptic application, and prescription pain medication, is often required.

What Causes Tongue Bites?

  • Eating Quickly. Biting a piece of food too hastily can lead to an accidental tongue bite.
  • Sports Injuries. Contact sports can result in mouth injuries, including biting tongues.
  • Sleep Spasms. In some cases, people bite their tongue during sleep due to involuntary jaw muscle movements
  • Dental Issues. Misaligned teeth or other dental issues can increase the risk of biting your tongue. Consult your dentist in Saskatoon to address any alignment issues that could be contributing to the problem.
  • Stress and Anxiety. Anxiety and stress might make you clench your jaw or move abruptly, increasing the risk of a tongue injury.
  • Medical Conditions. Certain conditions like epilepsy can cause nighttime seizures or involuntary movements, leading to accidental tongue biting.
  • Lack of Concentration. Sometimes, simply not paying attention while chewing can lead to accidentally biting your tongue.

Got an Oral Health Concern? Contact Willowgreen Dental Today

Properly assessing a bitten tongue can prevent complications and speed up the healing process. We’ve all experienced the sharp, unexpected pain of an accidental bite, but understanding when to get emergency care can be quite beneficial. It is important to follow the steps for minor injuries and be aware of signs that require medical attention in order to handle the situation appropriately.

If you experience persistent bleeding and frequent tongue bites due to underlying conditions, don’t hesitate to seek professional advice. At Willowgreen Dental, we’re committed to providing comprehensive dental care and addressing any concerns you may have. Whether it’s an emergency care or routine check-up, our team of skilled professionals is here to support your oral health needs.

Reach out to Willowgreen Dental today for more information and to schedule an appointment. Your health and comfort are our top priorities, and we’re here to ensure you receive the best care possible for all your dental concerns.