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Speech, taste, and digestion are all impaired by injuries and conditions of another important organ – the tongue. An example of such conditions is cases of lacerated tongue. But what causes it? Can this affect our teeth and general body system?

This article will examine how to treat a cut tongue, explaining the causes and effects. This article will shed some light on the implications and management options associated with tongue laceration causes, symptoms and how to treat it.

What is a lacerated tongue injury?

Laceration of the tongue refers to an injury involving a cut, abrasion or tear on the tongue’s surface. Such injuries as bite, accident, or trauma may arise on the mouth and may range from a small incision to a severe one. The tongue can heal itself wonderfully and has a powerful ability of regeneration, but if a big fissure occurs, then you should seek a doctor.

Proper care and medical attention, especially for deeper wounds, ensure optimal healing and reduce potential risks.

What causes tongue lacerations

lacerated tongueTongue lacerations, or cuts on the tongue, can be distressing and sometimes painful. These injuries can arise from various circumstances, and understanding the common causes can help in prevention and prompt treatment.

  • Accidental Bites: One of the most common causes of minor tongue lacerations is accidentally biting the tongue while chewing or speaking. This can result in minor mucosal tongue lacerations that usually heal independently.
  • Falls and Accidents: Especially prevalent in children, falls or sudden impacts can lead to tongue and lip laceration. Children, being naturally curious and active, are often prone to tongue lacerations in children due to such incidents.
  • Oral Trauma: Any trauma to the mouth, whether from sports injuries or accidents, can result in tongue wounds. In some severe cases, the trauma can lead to deep lacerations, where the cut goes entirely through the muscular organ.
  • Foreign Objects: Sharp objects, like broken pieces of a tooth or bone in food, can cause lacerations if they accidentally pierce the tongue.
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy: In rare instances, procedures like electroconvulsive therapy without proper bite block protection can lead to tongue lacerations.
  • Suspected Child Abuse: Unfortunately, in some suspected child abuse cases, oral injuries, including tongue lacerations, can be indicative of intentional harm.
  • Unusual Incidents: There have been case reports of injuries like tongue lacerations resulting from unexpected events, such as an electronic cigarette explosion.

In essence, while some tongue lacerations are minor and heal without intervention, others, especially those resulting from significant trauma, may require the expertise of oral maxillofacial surgeons or emergency medicine professionals. Proper care, including maintaining a soft diet, using a cold compress to reduce swelling, and, if needed, prophylactic oral antibiotics, can aid in the healing process.

Tongue laceration symptoms

A tongue laceration, often immediately noticeable due to the discomfort or pain it can cause, may present with a range of symptoms. Recognising these symptoms is crucial for determining the severity of the injury and deciding on the appropriate course of action.

  • Visible Cut or Tear: The most evident sign of a tongue laceration is a visible cut or tear on the tongue’s surface. Depending on the cause, this can range from minor mucosal tongue lacerations to more severe lacerations.
  • Pain and Discomfort: Pain is a common symptom, especially when the tongue moves or comes into contact with certain substances. The degree of pain can vary based on the depth and location of the laceration.
  • Bleeding: Tongue wounds, especially those resulting from oral trauma, often bleed. While the mouth’s rich blood supply means minor injuries can bleed profusely, they tend to clot and heal relatively quickly.
  • Swelling: Inflammation around the injured area can lead to a swollen tongue, which might cause difficulty in speaking or swallowing.
  • Cold or Clammy Skin: In more severe cases, especially in children, the shock from the injury can lead to symptoms like cold or clammy skin, shallow breathing, and a weak pulse.
  • Difficulty Speaking or Swallowing: Depending on the laceration’s location, there might be challenges with articulation or swallowing food and liquids.
  • Sensitivity: The injured area might be particularly sensitive to hot, cold, or sweet foods, causing discomfort or pain upon contact.

In summary, while some symptoms of a tongue laceration deep cut are immediately evident, others might develop over time. It’s essential to monitor any oral injury closely and seek medical attention if symptoms worsen or don’t improve.

Symptoms of minor tongue lacerations

Minor tongue lacerations might not be as alarming as deeper wounds, but they warrant attention. Recognising the signs of these less severe injuries can guide you on the right path to recovery and help you decide if you need to see a medical professional.

  • Slight Discomfort: A telltale sign of a minor tongue laceration is a gentle unease, particularly when the tongue is in motion or comes into contact with certain edibles and beverages.
  • Minimal Bleeding: The tongue, rich in blood supply, might bleed a bit, but with minor lacerations, this bleeding is often limited and stops without much ado.
  • Visible Abrasion: You might spot a shallow cut or scrape on the tongue, indicating the laceration, even if it isn’t too deep.
  • Mild Swelling: swelling can be expected around the affected area, but it’s generally subtle and not too pronounced.
  • Sensitivity: The injured part of the tongue might react more to specific foods, especially if they’re spicy or have a high acid content, leading to a mild sting or tingle.
  • Unhindered Speech and Swallowing: One relief with minor lacerations is that they don’t usually disrupt your ability to talk or swallow. However, you may be more aware of the injury during these actions.

Tongue laceration treatment

tongue gaping woundsTongue lacerations, whether minor or severe, require prompt attention to ensure optimal healing and to prevent complications. The tongue, a vital muscular organ, plays a crucial role in speech, swallowing, and taste. Thus, understanding the treatment options and procedures for most tongue lacerations and injuries is essential.

  • Assessment: The first step in treating a tongue laceration is a thorough assessment. The depth and location of the wound, whether it’s on the anterior two-thirds or closer to the throat, can determine the treatment approach.
  • Stopping the Bleeding: Applying pressure using a clean cloth or gauze pad can help stop bleeding. In cases of persistent bleeding, a visit to the emergency department is advised.
  • Cleaning the Wound: It’s vital to ensure that no foreign object is embedded in the laceration. Cleaning the wound reduces the risk of infection.
  • Pain Management: Pain medication or a local anesthetic, such as a lingual nerve block, can be administered to manage discomfort during the treatment process.
  • Suturing: Deep cuts or lacerations, especially those with large flaps, may require sutures. Absorbable suture materials like chromic gut can be used, ensuring the wound heals without suture removal.
  • Antibiotics: Prophylactic antibiotics might be prescribed, especially if there’s a risk of infection. This is particularly important for deep or large lacerations.
  • Swelling Management: To reduce swelling, patients might be advised to apply a cold compress and maintain a soft diet for a few days.
  • Avoiding Aggravating Factors: Patients should avoid spicy or hot foods, acidic beverages, and contact sports to prevent further injury or discomfort.
  • Follow-up: Regular check-ups with a healthcare professional are crucial to monitor the healing process and ensure no complications like infections or permanent deficits in tongue function.

Pediatric tongue laceration repair

Tongue lacerations in children present a unique set of challenges, given the delicate nature of pediatric care and the anxiety often associated with medical procedures in young patients. Pediatric tongue laceration repair is a specialised area of emergency medicine, ensuring that the child’s tongue heals correctly without causing undue distress or harm to the child or their caregivers.

  • Assessment: Before any repair, a thorough assessment of the laceration is crucial. The depth, location, and nature of the wound on the child’s tongue determine the best approach for treatment.
  • Pain Management: Children are particularly sensitive to pain. Administering a local anesthetic, such as a lingual nerve block, can numb the area, making the repair process less distressing for the child.
  • Suturing: Depending on the depth and size of the laceration, sutures might be required. In pediatric cases, absorbable sutures are often preferred, eliminating the need for a potentially traumatic suture removal session later.
  • Antibiotics: Given the risk of infection, especially in deeper wounds, prophylactic antibiotics might be prescribed as a precautionary measure.
  • Comfort Measures: Using a clean cloth or gauze pad to apply gentle pressure can help stop the bleeding. Moreover, offering a cold compress post-procedure can reduce swelling and provide comfort.
  • Post-Procedure Care: Parents or caregivers should be advised on the importance of a soft diet for the child for a few days post-procedure. This helps in preventing further injury to the healing wound.
  • Follow-up: Regular check-ups post-procedure are essential to monitor the healing process. Any signs of infection, increased pain, or other complications should be addressed immediately.
  • Counselling for Caregivers: Given the distressing nature of injuries in children, parents or caregivers might need guidance on how to care for the child’s wound at home and what signs to watch out for that might indicate complications.


Advanced laceration management techniques

Lacerations, or cuts in the skin, can range from minor to severe, and the approach to their management has evolved significantly over the years. Advanced laceration management techniques offer more efficient, less painful, and aesthetically superior treatment outcomes than traditional methods. These advancements are particularly crucial in areas where optimal cosmetic results are desired or traditional suturing might be challenging.

  • Adhesive Agents: Modern wound adhesives, like 2-octyl cyanoacrylate (Dermabond), offer a quick and suture-less method to close lacerations. They form a strong bond, reduce the risk of infection, and negate the need for suture removal.
  • Absorbable Sutures: These are particularly beneficial for deep lacerations. Made from materials the body can break down, they negate the need for a follow-up suture removal, making them ideal for paediatric patients or internal wound closures.
  • Wound Closure Tapes: These adhesive strips can close small, superficial lacerations. They’re less invasive than sutures and can be applied quickly.
  • Lingual Nerve Block: In cases of tongue lacerations, a lingual nerve block can be administered to numb the tongue, making the repair process painless.
  • Electrocautery: This technique uses electrical energy to seal off bleeding vessels, making the wound environment cleaner and easier to work with.
  • Ultrasound-Guided Nerve Blocks: For deep or complex lacerations, ultrasound can guide the administration of local anaesthetic around major nerve structures, ensuring comprehensive pain relief.
  • Specialised Dressings: Modern dressings like hydrocolloids, alginates, and foam dressings not only protect the wound but also promote a moist environment that can accelerate healing.

Incorporating these advanced laceration management techniques ensures that patients receive the best care possible, minimising pain, reducing the risk of complications, and ensuring optimal cosmetic and functional outcomes. As medical technology continues to evolve, healthcare professionals need to stay updated and trained in these state-of-the-art methods.

How to prevent tongue laceration

Tongue lacerations, while often painful and distressing, can largely be prevented with a combination of awareness, preventive measures, and adopting safe practices. The tongue requires care to avoid injuries that can lead to complications or prolonged discomfort.

  • Mouth Guards: For those involved in contact sports or activities with a risk of oral trauma, wearing a protective mouth guard is essential. It acts as a barrier, reducing the impact and preventing the tongue from being bitten or injured.
  • Avoid Hard Foods: Being cautious while consuming hard or brittle foods can prevent accidental tongue biting. This includes items like hard candies, ice, or bones.
  • Safe Toy Practices: For children, ensuring that toys are age-appropriate and free from small detachable parts can reduce the risk of oral injuries. Supervision during playtime is also crucial.
  • Address Dental Issues: Broken teeth or dental fixtures with sharp edges can inadvertently cause tongue lacerations. Regular dental check-ups and addressing any dental anomalies promptly can prevent such injuries.
  • Avoid Multitasking While Eating: Distracted eating can lead to accidental bites. It’s advisable to focus on eating and avoid talking, laughing, or engaging in other activities simultaneously.
  • First Aid Knowledge: While prevention is key, knowing basic first aid can mitigate the severity of a tongue laceration if it occurs. This includes understanding how to stop bleeding, clean the wound, and when to seek emergency medical attention.
  • Stay Away from Harmful Habits: Activities like piercing the tongue or consuming scalding hot beverages can increase the risk of injuries. Being aware of and avoiding such practices is beneficial.
  • Educate and Supervise Children: Children, due to their curious nature, are at a higher risk of oral injuries. Educating them about the dangers of inserting foreign objects into their mouths and supervising their activities can significantly reduce the risk.


In wrapping up, managing a lacerated tongue requires prompt and expert attention to ensure optimal healing and prevent complications. With advancements in medical techniques and a deeper understanding of wound care, treating such injuries has become more efficient and effective. It’s crucial to maintain good oral hygiene and seek professional advice if you or someone you know experiences a lacerated tongue. Remember, timely intervention and the right care can make all the difference in recovery and oral health.

If you or someone you know is dealing with a lacerated tongue, don’t hesitate to seek professional care. Your oral health is paramount. Call us now at (08) 9783 9006 and let the experts at Emergency Dentist Perth provide you with the immediate attention and care you deserve. Your well-being is our top priority.


First aid and treatment for a tongue laceration


Lacerated Tongue Injury in Children – PMC


Tongue Laceration: Causes and Treatment


Complex Tongue Laceration: Overview, Indications, Contraindications


Mouth and tongue cuts | healthdirect