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How to Heal a Bitten Tongue

Four Parts:Performing Immediate First AidUsing RinsesUsing Alternative MethodsTaking Precautionary Measures

Accidentally biting your tongue is a common behavior that sometimes happens when you chew foods, speak, or otherwise get tongue-tied. If it is a small bite, it will heal within the same day. If you bite it a little deeper, then it takes around 3 to 5 days (or maybe up to a week) for healing without medical treatment. What else can you do besides wait it out? See Step 1 below to ease the pain.

Part 1
Performing Immediate First Aid

  1. Image titled Heal a Bitten Tongue Step 1
    Apply pressure. If the bitten area bleeds, then apply pressure first. Blood usually flows under pressure. By applying counter pressure, you can halt the blood flow. When it gets halted, it clots. This may also reduce inflammation. Here's what to do:[1]
    • If you bite down on your tongue, then press it against your roof of your mouth.
    • You can also press the tongue against your cheek.
    • Use a piece of ice and apply pressure on the bitten area (keep the ice on and off till it melts down completely).
    • You can also use a clean cloth for applying the pressure over the wound area.
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    Examine the wound. Once the bleeding stops, examine the cut carefully. If it is superficial, no treatment is required. If, however, the cut seems deep, see your dentist to see if sutures are necessary.
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    Rinse with mouthwash. Rinsing your mouth with Listerine or another mouthwash will help prevent infection.

Part 2
Using Rinses

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    Do a salt water rinse. The salt water helps in faster healing and controls the bacterial activity in the bitten area. Salt causes osmosis or dehydration by absorbing the water molecules and making the area dry.[2] Most bacteria won’t survive in dry conditions, thus salt plays an important role in controlling the bacteria, which further promotes healing. Here's how it works:
    • Take a cup of warm water and a teaspoon of salt. Mix it together.
    • Swish it in your mouth for 15 to 20 seconds and then spit it out
    • You can rinse with salt water 3 times a day for 3 days, especially after meals
    • Rinsing the mouth also removes food particles from your mouth, interferes in the enzyme activity, and helps to reduce the swelling and pain.
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    Do a hydrogen peroxide rinse. The anti-septic effect of the hydrogen peroxide helps to control the bacteria activity in wounds. The effervescing cleansing action acts as a chemical agent to remove debris and dead tissues from the wound surface. This helps in the healing process and protects the area from bacterial infection. In short, it acts as an anti-septic agent, so long as you don't swallow it! Here's how to do it:
    • Take an equal amount of 3% hydrogen peroxide and water. Mix it together for a rinse.
    • Take a required amount of mix in your mouth, swish it thoroughly and spit it out.
    • You can rinse your mouth 2 times per day for 3 days
      • You can also apply the hydrogen peroxide and water mixture to the area directly with a cotton swab.
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    Do an antacid/antihistamine rinse. The antacid change the acidic environment in the mouth and control the bacterial activity. Anti-histamines have anti-allergic actions which helps to control inflammation. Combining these both gives very good healing results and soothing effects. Here's what to do:
    • Take one part of diphenhydramine (Benadryl allergy liquid) and antacid like milk of magnesia or gelusil or gaviscon and mix it together.
    • Take a small amount in your mouth and swish it for a minute and spit it out.
    • You can do this once or twice a day.
    • Topical application is also advised (rub-on). You can also apply the antacid and antihistamines separately.
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    Use mouthwash. Benzydamine hydrochloride mouthwash helps you to reduce the pain. You can use your normal mouthwash or 0.12% chlorhexidine gluconate mouthwashes (peridex).[3] The antiseptic nature of the mouthwash helps in controlling the bacterial activity and thus resulting in a faster healing process. Here's how:
    • Take a required amount of mouthwash and swish it around your mouth for 15 to 30 seconds and spit it out
    • Use mouthwash after brushing or after food intake. This helps to remove the food particles and debris from the mouth
    • You can rinse your mouth twice a day

Part 3
Using Alternative Methods

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    Use an ice pack. This is a very effective way for to control the bleeding. It also helps in controlling the pain and burning sensation because cold helps to constrict the blood vessels which reduces the blood flow and aids in clotting. Here's what you can do:
    • Take a few ice-cubes in a small plastic bag and keep it on the bitten area for 10 to 15 minutes on and off. Applying it for long time will hurt you more and numb the area, so be careful.
    • As an alternative, you can place ice cubes directly on the bitten area or suck an ice stick/ice-creams/popsicles for longer periods. Also drink cold water, fruit juices, vegetable juices, etc. as these help in soothing the pain.
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    Apply aloe vera. Aloe has rejuvenating, healing and soothing properties and is a natural healing agent. It contains saponin, a chemical compound that acts as an anti-bacterial agent, too.[4] And to top it off, it has moisturizing and anti-irritant effects as well. This is why you can find it in plenty of hygienic products on the market. Here's what you should do:
    • Cut the aloe vera leaf and apply the jelly mixture on the bitten area
    • You can also apply aloe gels or juice on the tongue surface
    • You can apply aloe gel or its products three times a day after rinsing your mouth
    • Use a small “dollop” at bedtime and you will get better results in the morning
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    Use mouth gels. You can get gels from drug stores to reduce the pain and improve the healing process. These gels (e.g. Lignocaine and Benzocaine) have anesthetic and anti-inflammatory actions to relieve pain and reduce swelling.
    • Rinse your mouth thoroughly with water and clean the area before applying the gel
    • Take one or two drops of gel with cotton applicators and apply it over the bitten tongue surface
    • Apply 2 to 4 times per day until you feel comfortable with the healing
      • Orabase, Anabel, Orajel are some of the mouth gels which you can buy from the drug stores. Topical antiseptics like tetracycline, doxycycline and topical corticosteroid can also be used.
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    Use an oral adhesive paste. This works similarly to the mouth gels. A paste like Aphthasol 4 times/day (Amlexanox oral paste 5%) for 3 days or more can be very effective.[5] Here's what to do:
    • Take just a dollop of paste on your finger tip and apply it over the bitten area smoothly
    • You can use this paste 4 times/day. For the record, it's better to take after food with a clean mouth.
    • Stop using it when you feel better or until the bitten area has healed completely
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    Use baking soda. This one is pretty straightforward and works to dry out the bacteria and reduce swelling.[6] With no bacteria present, the tongue heals faster. To use baking soda:
    • Take a teaspoon of baking soda and mix it with water until it forms a thin watery consistency
    • Now using an applicator tip, apply it to the bitten area
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    Use milk of magnesia. The milk of magnesia has an antacid effect. This helps to change the acidic environment in your mouth and this further controls the bacterial activity in your mouth. To use this method:
    • Dab milk of magnesia on the bitten area of your bitten tongue
    • You can do this 3-4 times in a day. You can also do this after your hydrogen peroxide rinse.
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    Consider taking vitamins. Take vitamin rich foods which are high in vitamin B and vitamin C.[7] You can also take vitamin oral capsules/tablets and zinc supplements, too. Here's what to keep in mind:
    • Take this twice a day for three days and take care that you do not overdose.
    • Eat vitamin B and C rich foods like meat, tuna, liver, whole grains, bananas, potatoes, lentils, green leafy vegetables and citrus fruits.

Part 4
Taking Precautionary Measures

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    See your dentist. Some people are at a particular risk for biting their tongues, including those with sharp teeth. If you have a sharp-edged tooth, visit your dentist. He or she can grind and smooth it so that you won’t injure your tongue.
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    Correct malposed teeth. If your teeth are not aligned properly, you may find yourself biting your tongue repeatedly. See a dentist or orthodontist to discuss correcting your teeth with braces or other orthodontic appliances.
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    Be sure dentures fit properly. Poorly fitted dentures may injure your tongue. See your dentist to make sure that your dentures fit correctly and do not have sharp edges.
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    Avoid irritation from orthodontic appliances. If you wear orthodontic appliances, keep wax on hand to protect your tongue from any rough edges. Roll the wax into a small ball and press it over the bracket or wire that is causing injury.
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    Wear protective gear. If you play contact or adventure sports, protect yourself by wearing a mouth guard and any other recommended gear. Wear a helmet when biking or motorcycling.
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    Manage your epilepsy safely. If you have epilepsy, always tell the people with you that no object should be placed in your mouth if you have a sudden seizure. It is a commonly held but incorrect belief that placing objects in the mouth will prevent you from swallowing your tongue; this practice ends up doing more harm than good. Ask your friends and family members not to do that and, when your seizure is over, to roll you onto your side until help arrives.


  • If there is no reduction in pain or no improvement in healing even after a week, then consult your doctor/dentist immediately.
  • Get advice from your dentist for pregnant, breast feeding and children younger than two years.
  • Drink plenty of water to be hydrated and help in the healing process.
  • Take cold liquids/popsicles often, as this helps you to relive pain and discomfort
  • Maintain a good oral hygiene. Use a soft-bristled brush and do not disturb the wound while you clean your mouth and tongue.[8]
  • Use a chlorhexidine gluconate-containing mouthwash like Peridex for a good relief.


  • Chew your foods slowly and don’t use tobacco products (like smoking or pan chewing) which will irritate and delay the healing process.
  • Don’t disturb the surface by constantly poking at it. That just exacerbates the problem.
  • If you bite your tongue because of ill-fitting dentures, then it should be corrected soon to avoid a recurrence of biting.
  • Avoid consuming very hot and/or spicy foods/acidic drinks which will irritate the bitten area and makes you to feel uncomfortable.[9]
  • Avoid using toothpaste that contains sodium lauryl sulfate which will irritate the wound and delay the healing.[10]

Things You'll Need

  • Saltwater
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Antihistamines or antacids
  • Aloe
  • Baking soda
  • Mouthwash
  • Ice pack
  • Mouth gels
  • Oral adhesive paste
  • Milk of magnesia
  • Vitamins
  • Cotton swabs, Q-tips, or cloth
  • Ice cubes

Article Info

Categories: Teeth and Mouth