Split Lip (ER Story)

  Split Lip (ER Story) Emily Halevy | CWK Network
“Anything like this.that’s not permanently placed on a tooth, runs the risk of aspiration.”

– Dr. Kathleen Nelson, professor of pediatrics –

  Related Information What Parents Need To Know Resources

Trey Watson was at school when he accidentally ran into a pole and split his lip. “Now I understand that you not only cut the outside of your lip, but you cut the inside of your lip,” says Dr. Kathleen Nelson, professor of pediatrics at University of Alabama, Birmingham, ”and what did you cut the inside of your lip on?” It was a removable gold cap on his tooth.

“It really could have been worse,” Dr. Nelson explains, “with an injury like this it could have been in his mouth and it could have been aspirated or he could have breathed it in or choked on it.” Trey didn’t choke on it, he lost it, and now he’ll need stitches.

Trey has saran wrap on his lip, “and I think why they’ve got that saran wrap on your lip for is to basically deaden the area, they’ve got some medicine on there to make it not hurt when they sew it up,” explains Dr. Nelson.

“The main reason we stitched his outer lip was that it was a fairly gaping wound and if it healed without stitches, you would see a pretty good scar,” says the doctor, “So that not only do the stitches decrease the scar, but it would also stop any bleeding.”

The stitches will dissolve away in four to five days, and when Trey goes back to school, if he happens to find the cap he lost, “I think I wouldn’t wear that gold appliance even if you find it again, okay,” says Dr. Nelson. And his mom agrees, “He just wanted to go with the trend, and I advised against it, but he’s learned a lesson from it.”

For kids, the doctor says, removable caps can be a hazard, “Anything like this…that’s not permanently placed on a tooth, runs the risk of aspiration.”

By Larry Eldridge
CWK Network, Inc.

It’s almost inevitable that children will get minor cuts, wounds and lacerations to the mouth and lips while playing, climbing or participating in sports. Most of these injuries can be handled at home with simple first-aid treatment. Parents need to keep in mind that the gums, tongue and lips have a rich blood supply, and when cuts occur, a great deal of bleeding can occur.

Experts at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital cite the following common traumas to the mouth:

  • Cuts of the tongue or inside of the cheeks (due to accidentally biting them during eating) are the most common mouth injury.
  • Cuts and bruises of the upper lip are usually due to falls. A tear of the piece of tissue connecting the upper lip to the gum (upper labial frenulum) is very common and always heals without sutures.
  • Cuts of the lower lip are usually caused by catching it between the upper and lower teeth during a fall. Most of these cuts do not connect (don’t go through the lip).
  • Potentially serious mouth injuries are those to the tonsil, soft palate or back of the throat, such as from falling with a pencil in the mouth.
If the wound is on the outside of the mouth or on the lips, wash it well with soap and water. Experts at Children’s Hospital Boston recommend removing any dirt particles from the area and letting the water from a faucet run over it for several minutes. A dirty cut or scrape that is not well cleansed can cause scarring.
By Larry Eldridge
CWK Network, Inc.

For mild mouth injuries, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital offers the following home-care advice:

  • Stop any bleeding – For bleeding of the inner lip or tissue that connects it to the gum, press the bleeding site against the teeth or jaw for 10 minutes. Once bleeding from inside the lip stops, don’t pull the lip out again to look at it (the bleeding will start up again). For bleeding from the tongue, squeeze or press the bleeding site with a sterile gauze or piece of clean cloth for 10 minutes.
  • Local cold – Put a piece of ice (wrapped in cloth) on the injured area for 20 minutes.
  • Pain medicine – If there is pain, give acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
  • Soft diet – Offer a soft diet. Avoid any salty or citrus foods that might sting. Rinse the wound with warm water immediately after meals.
  • Expected course – Small cuts and scrapes inside the mouth heal in three or four days. Infections resulting from mouth injuries are rare.

Call your doctor immediately (night or day) if you observe one of the following problems:

  • A serious injury
  • Minor bleeding that won’t stop after 10 minutes of direct pressure
  • A deep or gaping cut that may need stitches
  • A cut through the border of lip where it meets the skin
  • Severe pain
  • An inability to swallow or new onset of drooling
  • Injury that was caused by a pencil or other long object placed in the mouth
  • Mouth looks infected – fever, spreading redness, increasing pain or swelling after 48 hours (keep in mind, any healing wound in the mouth is normally white for several days)
How can you prevent mouth injuries? Experts at Children’s Hospital Boston suggest teaching your child never to walk or run while holding an object in his/her mouth; urging your child not to suck or chew on hard, sharp or pointed objects such as pencils, and require your child to wear a mouth guard for sports activities that could cause injury.

Children’s Hospital Boston
Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital