What to do if you’ve cut your gums

Woman with mouth injury
Gum injuries are common and very annoying, but how serious are they? When should you reach out for an appointment?

Gums are very vulnerable to injury because the soft tissue is constantly coming into contact with different types of food, liquids, and foreign objects (like toothbrushes, floss, orthodontic appliances). There are many ways that a cut on your gums can happen, ranging from a slip of your toothbrush to the corner of a chip getting stuck. Even if the bristles on your toothbrush are slightly too hard, it can take a toll on your gums. A gum injury can be very painful, but in most cases, it does not require medical treatment and will heal itself (slowly). Regardless, there are definitely things you should do directly after to prevent infection and reduce swelling:

  • Rinse with warm saltwater
  • Swish antiseptic mouthwash
  • Press ice on the wound to minimize inflammation

When there are open wounds in the mouth, it’s important to take every precaution to avoid infection even after you take immediate action. Abstain from smoking until your gums are healed and avoid foods that can cause irritation. Always make sure to clean your hands thoroughly before you touch anything in your mouth because the bacteria on your hands will enter the wound site and could spread infection.

Although gum injuries are typically not serious, there are cases where a cut on the gums warrants medical attention. If gums are infected, they will be swollen and more susceptible to injury. According to the ADA, if you notice that your gums are injured easily, it may the case that you have gingivitis. Even gentle brushing and flossing could hurt your gums if you do have gum disease, so be sure to schedule a dentist appointment to have an examination. There are other instances where a gum injury requires medical attention, as well. If a cut on the gums carries these characteristics, do not wait to see the dentist:

  • The injury was caused by a bite or a rusted object
  • The cut is larger than 1/2″
  • The pain or swelling worsens or persists for more than a few days (which could indicate an infection or abscess)

Even though there are times when there is nothing you can do to prevent a gum injury, the majority of instances are preventable. Here are some easy steps you can take to protect your gums:

  1. Always use a toothbrush with soft bristles
  2. Maintain regular brushing and flossing to prevent gingivitis
  3. Wear a mouthguard while playing sports
  4. Be mindful when eating foods with sharp edges

Your gums should be protected at all costs, as they are a very soft tissue and can be easily damaged. Gums can get injured fairly easily, especially if they are already weakened from prescription medications, disease, or general lack of care. Flossing should be a non-negotiable in your dental regimen because there is no other way to clean out the debris from the gumline. Maintaining your bi-annual dentist visits are also a necessary line of defense in protecting your gums because only a professional cleaning can clear away plaque that causes infection, and oral exams can provide early detection against gingivitis. Call our office today to schedule an appointment, and we can work together to ensure that your gums stay healthy for years to come!

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