Updated on February 1, 2024
5 min read

Cuts on Your Tongue: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

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Meet the Expert

Dr. Jennifer Silver earned Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of Melbourne, Australia. She now practices at Macleod Trail Dental Clinic and Southcentre Dental where she specializes in General Dentistry.

We asked Dr. Jennifer Silver about interdental brushes. Here’s what she had to say.

What are the most common causes of cuts on the tongue?

The most common causes of cuts on the tongue include:

  • Accidentally biting the tongue while chewing
  • Sharp edges on teeth or dental appliances
  • Hot food or drinks
  • Acidic or spicy foods
  • Tongue piercings.

What are the symptoms of a cut on the tongue?

Depending on the severity and source of the damage, the symptoms of a tongue laceration may vary. Typical symptoms include:

  • Soreness or discomfort in the affected area
  • Tongue inflammation or enlargement
  • Discoloration or redness of the afflicted area
  • Tongue bruising and/or bleeding
  • Due to discomfort, difficulty eating, drinking, or speaking
  • In some circumstances, the tongue may develop little white sores or lesions

If you experience any of these symptoms or have concerns about a cut on your tongue, you should consult your healthcare professional. They will provide an appropriate diagnosis and course of treatment.

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Cuts on Your Tongue: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
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When should I seek medical attention for a cut on the tongue?

Medical attention should be sought if a tongue cut is deep, lengthy, or does not heal within one week. Or if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Extreme pain
  • Bleeding
  • Evidence of infection, such as pus, fever, or swelling

How long does it take for a cut on the tongue to heal?

The healing time for a cut on the tongue depends on its severity and the cause of the injury. In general, minor cuts or abrasions on the tongue may take a few days to a week to heal. Deeper or more severe cuts may take up to two weeks or longer.

Can a cut on the tongue lead to more serious health problems?

A cut on the tongue is usually not a serious health issue. However, there is a risk of infection if the wound is not adequately cared for or if it becomes contaminated with bacteria. 

An infected tongue cut can lead to more serious health issues, including:

  • Fever
  • Trouble swallowing or breathing
  • In rare situations, sepsis

What should I do if my cut on the tongue becomes infected?

If you feel that your tongue cut has grown infected, it is imperative that you get medical assistance immediately. 

Infection symptoms include:

  • Growing pain
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Pus or blood discharge
  • Fever

Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to aid in fighting the infection. It is essential to complete the specified course of antibiotics, even if your symptoms improve before you finish the medicine.

In addition to taking antibiotics, you can also take measures to manage the infection’s associated pain and suffering. Management may involve taking pain medicines orally, avoiding spicy or acidic foods, and consuming enough water to stay hydrated.

To prevent recurring infections, it is essential to maintain proper dental hygiene by brushing and flossing regularly. Avoid behaviors that can irritate the tongue, such as smoking and drinking excessively.

Can I use over-the-counter medication to treat a cut on the tongue?

Some over-the-counter medications can be used to help relieve pain and promote the healing of a cut on the tongue. Some of these include:

Oral analgesics: 

Pain medicines available over-the-counter, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can help alleviate the pain associated with a tongue laceration.

Topical anesthetics: 

There are over-the-counter topical anesthetics that can be administered directly to the tongue to numb the area and provide relief, such as benzocaine and lidocaine.

How can I prevent cuts on my tongue?

To prevent tongue cuts: 

  • Avoid biting your tongue while chewing
  • Avoid consuming sharp or abrasive foods
  • Be careful while consuming hot or spicy meals
  • Practice proper dental hygiene by brushing and flossing regularly.

Can I eat spicy or acidic foods with a cut on my tongue?

When you have a cut on your tongue, it is typically advisable to avoid eating spicy or acidic foods. These might irritate the wound and make it more uncomfortable. 

Hot or acidic foods can delay the healing process and create more harm or inflammation in the affected area.

Antibacterial mouthwashes: 

Antiseptic mouthwashes, such as chlorhexidine or hydrogen peroxide, can lower the risk of infection and expedite the healing of a tongue laceration.

How can I manage the pain associated with a cut on the tongue?

Pain medicines available without a prescription, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can help alleviate tongue injury-related discomfort. 

In addition, a small amount of numbing gel or rinse applied to the affected area may provide brief comfort. 

Furthermore, cold beverages and soft, non-spicy foods might ease discomfort.

Are there any home remedies that can help heal a cut on the tongue?

Yes, home remedies that can help with the healing process include:

  • Honey
  • Saltwater gargle
  • Aloe vera
  • Ice
  • Turmeric

How can I keep my tongue clean while healing from a cut?

You can keep your tongue clean by:

  • Using a soft-bristled toothbrush or a tongue scraper to brush it
  • Rinsing your mouth with warm salt water multiple times daily
  • Abstaining from smoking
  • Avoiding items that may irritate the wound

You should also practice proper oral hygiene and make sure you’re hydrated.

Can smoking or drinking alcohol delay the healing process of a cut on the tongue?

Absolutely, smoking and alcohol consumption can delay the healing of a tongue wound. 

Both smoking and alcohol intake can irritate the tongue’s delicate tissues, which can impede the healing process. Moreover, smoking and alcohol intake can impair the immune system, making it more difficult for the body to fight infections and heal the wound. 

Consequently, smoking and consuming alcohol should be avoided while the tongue is recovering from a cut.

How long should I wait before drinking hot beverages or eating hot foods with a cut on my tongue?

It is recommended that you wait until the wound on your tongue has completely healed to drink or eat hot things. Depending on the severity of the wound, this can take anything from a few days to a week or more. Eating hot beverages or foods might irritate the wound and slow the healing process. Therefore it is better to avoid them until the wound has completely healed.

Last updated on February 1, 2024
Last updated on February 1, 2024
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
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