Mouth injuries are common, especially in children and people who are more prone to accidents from falls or contact sports. While cuts on the gums may not occur as often as other types of mouth injuries, they can still happen.
Knowing how to promptly treat a cut on the gums at home is important. This helps the wound heal and prevents infection. It’s also important to know when to seek medical treatment.
Learn more about how to handle a cut on the gums and when you should call a medical professional.
You may have experienced cuts around the outside of your mouth or face. It’s also possible to get these types of injuries inside your mouth, along the gums above your teeth.
This can result from:
- a fall
- a sports injury
- sharp objects placed in the mouth
It’s also possible to get cuts in between your teeth. This is less likely to occur due to falls and other injuries, but rather more likely to result from:
- flossing improperly
- using hard-bristled toothbrushes
- using 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 your tongue and lip areas.
Aside from bleeding and tears in your gum tissues, 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 become white in color.
It’s not uncommon for wounds inside the mouth to turn white. This is a standard response to trauma and should clear up within a few days.
Signs of a possible infection may include:
While a cut on the gums can be concerning, many cases are mild enough for you to 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 to 10 minutes to help stop the bleeding. You may also rinse your mouth with cool water to remove any debris sticking to the cut.
- Try a salt rinse. This can help keep your cut clean so it doesn’t become infected. To make a salt rinse, combine 1 tsp of salt with 1 cup of warm water, then rinse for several seconds. You can repeat the rinse throughout the day as needed, especially after meals.
- Modify your diet. Temporary changes to your diet may help decrease discomfort and allow your gum cut to heal. Consider a diet of soft foods, and avoid those that are hot, spicy, or citrus-based. Sucking on ice cubes or popsicles may also help soothe swelling.
- Use a cool compress. You may consider applying cool compresses to the cut on your gums. You can do this by running a soft cloth under cool water, then applying it to the affected area for up to 20 minutes.
- Try medication. Over-the-counter (OTC) pain medication may be used to help soothe mild pain and discomfort related to cuts on the gums. Options include ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol). Be sure to ask your doctor before taking OTC medications, and follow the dosage instructions carefully.
While uncommon in the gums, significant cuts that won’t stop bleeding may require stitches. These may either dissolve on their own or will have 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 run for at least 7 days. It’s important to take your full prescription, even if your gum infection is improving.
While your gums are tender and may bleed easier than other areas of the body, they’re also more likely to heal quickly. You can expect a minor cut on the gums to heal within 3 to 4 days.
The anticipated healing time may be longer if the cut is more severe and needs stitches or if it becomes infected.
As a rule of thumb, it’s important to see a healthcare professional if a cut on your gums isn’t improving within a couple of days.
Sometimes a cut on the gums may become infected despite treatment. It’s important to seek treatment for a gum infection right away, before it can spread.
A mild infection may be treated at home with oral antibiotics, while more severe cases can require hospitalization.
You should also see a medical professional right away if the cut on your gum continues to bleed or gets better but then worsens again. Bleeding that doesn’t stop with compression after 10 minutes is considered a medical emergency.
Other signs that warrant emergency care include:
- breathing difficulties
- difficulty swallowing fluids and food
- gum swelling or pain that makes it hard to close your mouth
If your gums bleed without having any cuts or other associated symptoms such as pain, you should see your dentist to rule out periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is the medical term for gum disease.
Often caused by a long-term lack of oral hygiene, gum disease may present in the following ways:
- bleeding gums, especially after brushing or flossing
- a receding gumline
- red gums
- swollen gums
- bad breath
- loose teeth
- changes to your bite
With prompt treatment, gum disease may be reversible.
You should call a dentist if you think you have a tooth injury that occurs with bleeding gums, with or without visible cuts.
Cuts on the gums may be caused by sharp or hard objects placed inside your mouth or by falls and other types of injuries. Most gum cuts are mild and resolve on their own with home care.
If you’re experiencing new or worsening symptoms — such as excessive pain, bleeding, or pus — see a healthcare professional for medical treatment.