Mouth Wounds: How to Stop Bleeding
If emergency care is not needed, the following steps will protect the wound and protect you from exposure to another person's blood.
- Wash your hands well with soap and water, if available.
- Put on medical gloves before applying pressure to the wound.
If gloves are not available, to apply pressure you can:
- Use many layers of fabric, plastic bags, or whatever you have between your hands and the wound.
- Have the person hold their own hand over the wound, if possible, and apply pressure to the injured area.
- Use your bare hands to apply pressure only as a last resort.
- Have the person sit up and tilt their head forward with the chin down.
This will help any blood drain out of the mouth, not down the back of the throat. Swallowing blood can cause vomiting.
- Remove any visible objects that are easy to remove.
Remove chewing gum if it is present. Do not attempt to clean out the wound.
- Remove any jewelry from the general area of the wound.
- Press firmly on the wound with a clean cloth.
- If there is a skin flap, return it to its normal position. If necessary, hold the flap in place with a clean cloth or gauze.
- If you don't have a clean cloth, use the cleanest material available.
- If there is an object in the wound, apply pressure around the object, not directly over it.
- Apply steady pressure for a full 15 minutes.
Use a clock to time the 15 minutes. It can seem like a long time. Resist the urge to peek after a few minutes to see whether bleeding has stopped. If blood soaks through the cloth, apply another one without lifting the first.
- Inner lip bleeding. Press the bleeding site against the teeth or jaw or place a rolled or folded piece of gauze or clean cloth between the lip and gum. Once bleeding from inside the lip stops, don't pull the lip out again to look at it. The person should avoid yawning or laughing, which may make the bleeding begin again.
- Tongue bleeding. Squeeze or press the bleeding site with gauze or a piece of clean cloth.
- Inner cheek bleeding. Place rolled gauze or a piece of clean cloth between the wound and the teeth.
- After tooth extraction by a health professional, follow any instructions given to you by your health professional. If you do not have the instructions, bite on gauze or a piece of clean cloth to control bleeding. If pressure does not stop the bleeding, try biting down on a moistened tea bag for 10 to 15 minutes. Avoid spitting, using any form of tobacco, and using straws, which can make bleeding worse.
- If moderate to severe bleeding has not slowed or stopped, continue direct pressure while getting help.
Mild bleeding usually stops on its own or slows to an ooze or trickle after 15 minutes of pressure. It may ooze or trickle for up to 45 minutes. Do all you can to keep the wound clean and avoid further injury to the area.
- Watch the person so they do not swallow the gauze or cloth.
- Do not put a bandage across the mouth.
The person should not exercise for several days. Exercise could raise blood pressure and restart mouth bleeding.
Current as of: July 11, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.