First Aid for children with minor mouth injuries

Minor mouth injuries in young children – such as small cuts and splits – are quite common because most kids just end up tripping over or running into something sooner or later! That’s when they’ll split their lip in a collision or accidently bite their tongue hard enough to induce significant bleeding – well enough to make you feel faint anyway!

However, parents shouldn’t be daunted or distracted by the sight of blood – kids do tend to bleed very easily from the tiniest of cuts. What’s more important is to look past the blood to work out where the bleeding is actually coming from – and then stopping it.

Most of the time, children experience only minor mouth injuries that can be easily treated with some basic First Aid steps – and a little recovery time.

Step 1 – Reduce or stop the bleeding

The first step and main priority of basic First Aid in this type of injury is to reduce or stop the bleeding. To do so, locate the source of the bleeding, such as an external cut, and apply gentle pressure on the wound with a clean cloth for at least 10 min if possible. Clean the injury site with cool water, apply an antiseptic and place a bandage over the cut.

If the cut is inside the mouth, on an inner lip for example, then apply pressure on it externally against your child’s teeth or gums. Don’t start probing the injury site with your finger because that may cause further bleeding.

Normal bleeding usually stops within 15 minutes – any longer means its heavy bleeding, so you should take your child straight to the Emergency Department at your nearest hospital.

Step 2 – Distract your child to keep them still

If your child can’t stay still while you are trying to stop the bleeding, take out their favourite toy or put on a Netflix cartoon for them to watch. It’s better if they don’t move at all while you’re applying pressure to the wound.

Step 3 – Reduce the swelling

Place an ice or cold gel pack over the injury site to numb and reduce any pain and/or swelling your child may be experiencing. Wrap an ice pack with a table cloth to prevent skin irritation. Giving your child an ice block treat to suck on is another novel option to help cool and numb the affected area.

Step 4 – Administer pain medication only if necessary

If your child experiences pain that doesn’t go away, it may be necessary to administer a dose of non-prescription pain medication, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, to help relieve pain.

Step 5 – Make sure your child eats carefully

For, internal cuts to the mouth, avoid feeding your child salty and acidic foods or beverages which may cause irritation to the wound. Stick to soft, easy-to-digest plain and healthy foods to minimise discomfort while eating. After eating, make sure your child rinses with warm water to wash away food residue, and keep the mouth clean.

Step 6 – Monitor your child’s recovery

It usually takes about 3 or 4 days for a minor cut or split to heal. After that, your child should be in the all-clear. Keep a lookout for symptoms, such as persistent pain, increased redness and swelling, an abscess and/or fever – for these may indicate infection.

Don’t forget to educate your child about the reasons why the injury happened, and what safety precautions they should take to prevent or avoid a similar injury again in the future!

Go straight to the Emergency Department for major mouth injuries

Some mouth injuries need to treated as soon as possible at an Emergency Department of a hospital.

These include mouth injuries that:

  • don’t stop bleeding,
  • are very deep or punctured,
  • contain an embedded foreign object,
  • are a result of a bite or sting, or
  • involve bone injury.

Call your nearest dentist for advice if your child’s mouth injury results in a knocked out, broken or fractured tooth. Most dentists keep emergency slots open on their daily schedules to accommodate dental emergencies.